With a rich history of service woven into the culture of the University and after a century of community involvement and volunteerism from past presidents, engaged faculty, and caring students, the University of Redlands opened Volunteer Office 1989.  Under the umbrella of the Student Life Division, the part-time office ran as a clearinghouse matching student outreach with local community needs.  Commissioned by the Dean of Student Life, Char Burgess, as a new administrative residence life assignment, the Office of Community Service Learning’s humble beginnings took shape in a small storage room in the Willis Center.  The small office would shape the beginnings of what was to become a broad and sweeping service-learning program.  It would help capture the relevance of service for college students and become one of a handful of universities to intentionally tie service learning into the fabric of the university’s required curriculum.

In 1990, after a year of successful food drives, awareness programs, creating the first campus recycling program, and working from standing models of service programs such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the Community Service Honor Houses, the Associate Dean of Students, Joe McGill, the ASUR President Vonda Koch, and Johnston Complex Director, Chris Fullerton took the initiative to further the scope of service outreach at Redlands by successfully capturing a Fund for the Improvement of Secondary Education (FIPSE) grant.  The grant’s purpose afforded the opening of a full-time Office of Community Service Learning. The impetus of the grant was to create work study-job placements by connecting students to non-profit agencies and schools.  


Tony Mueller was hired as the director in 1991 and the FIPSE grant marked the beginning of long and lasting partnerships with community agencies and classrooms. 


By 1993, and with the help of the Student Services Office, hundreds of work-study jobs had been created in community non-profit agencies within the region.  The concept to create positions paid by the University and the government was working.  In off-campus learning resource centers, children were being tutored every afternoon at split-cost or no-cost to the agency.  These service opportunities existed because of the FIPSE work-study initiative and set the stage for the University of Redlands soon-to-come community service activity requirement.    


Similarly, students enrolling under the 1994 catalogue would begin to fulfill an Interim (January) 3-unit Community Service Activity Course (CSAC) in order to receive a Redlands degree.  The name of the Community Service Office was officially changed to the Office of Community Service Learning (CSL) and the office began to report to both Academic Affairs and Student Life.  *The decision to keep the word “community” was intentional and together with the new focus on learning, spoke to the reciprocal relationship between town and gown as well as service and learning.

With the opening of the Hunsaker Center in the mid 1990’s, the CSL moved into a brand new suite of offices where it thrived.

The CSAC experience generally required 80 hours of service outreach at a non-profit agency or school and reflective and evaluation work.  The process mirrored closely the Johnston College program where students created their own learning objectives.  In CSAC, students contracted with the Office of Community Service Learning to serve a non-profit agency or school of their choice articulating learning objectives they wanted to meet.

Beginning with the pilot class of 33 students in 1993, the CSAC activity began to show just how creative Redlands students could be regarding outreach. Many of those enrolled would travel abroad to work in communities in Africa or India, while the others elected to serve in their own towns throughout the United States. The majority, however, chose to serve in the community of Redlands and throughout the Inland Empire. Students tutored children, mentored teens, served in hospitals, and delivered meals throughout their interim experiences. Faculty, too, began to create service-learning courses that built intentional service components into their curriculum. Service-learning courses such as Woodwind Instrument Repair, Social Justice Issues, Ropes Course Leadership, Animal Rescue, Adapted Education, and “Into the Woods” an environmental outreach course began to emerge throughout the 1990’s as creative service course for students to take. Similarly, travel courses picked up on the benefits of combining service-learning and travel helping to create courses in Haiti, Japan, China, Uruguay and Ecuador. These captured the benefits of serving communities while traveling abroad. Within six years, the program that had begun with a handful of service oriented students would enroll over 300 students each Interim or May Term and today enrolls 500 and 700 students annually.

1995 through 2005

The success of the Office of Community Service Learning is a direct result of a committed community of faculty, administration, and students who wanted to make a difference and who develop new ideas each year to help meet those needs. 

From 1995 to 2005, Redlands students created the following programs:

  • Peer Theatre Outreach
  • Campus Chapter of Habitat for Humanity
  • Opened the Jasper’s Corner Homework Club on-campus
  • Expanded the Big Buddies program and initiated the new Middle Buddies program for 11 to 14 year olds

*Each of these programs is designed and implemented by students.  


The LaFourcade Community Garden was developed for the enjoyment of the campus community by students, community volunteers, alumni, faculty and staff as a reflective, performance, and gathering space. The LaFourcade Community Garden began as a work-study opportunity and as a May Term community service activity course. In its beginning phase, students learned community gardening techniques from local Master Gardener, Emily Bueermann, and initially helped the Office of Community Service Learning design a garden space behind the University Administration building.

A memorial gift from the LaFourcade family was made in honor of Ronald LaFourcade, a friend to the University for many years and father of four University alumni. The gift gave the garden a new infrastructure and a beautiful wrought iron fence. Curbing and plants were donated by Mortar Board and the Will J. Reid Foundation. The garden site was dedicated in October 2006. 

2006 - 2019

Spring Bleak Plunges begin after the devastating hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Each year students travel with CSL staff to support disaster relief efforts in the US.

2006 – New Orleans, Louisiana, Katrina (Spring Break Plunge, May Break Bulldog Football team, May term CDI trip) Hilltop Rescue

2007 – New Orleans, Louisiana, Katrina; Habitat Camp Hope and St. Bernard Project

2008 – Kiln, Mississippi, Hurricane Katrina and Wilma; Camp Coastal

2009 – Kanab, Utah Best Friends Animal Sanctuary &  Habitat for Humanity  Hawaii, Hawaiian Homeland

2010 – Galveston, Texas, Hurricane Ike

2012 – Joplin, Missouri, Tornado;  Abundant Life and Rebuild Joplin

2013 – Breezy Point, New York, Hurricane Sandy; Habitat for Humanity

2014 – Greely,  Colorado, Flash Floods; Community Collaborations International

2015 -  Cottage Grove, Oregon; InStove International

2016 - Moore, Oklahoma, Tornado Recovery; Serve Moore 

2017 - Baton Rouge, Louisiana Flooding; Community Collaborations International

2018 - Houston, Texas Hurricane Harvey; Community Collaborations International

2019 - Paradise, California - Fire Recovery; Samaritan's Purse

2023 - Hazard, Kentucky - Flood Relief; HDA Homes

2006 - 2015

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) created the Honor Roll in 2006 to identify, collect, and recognize the outstanding service taking place at higher education institutions across the nation. The Office of Community Service Learning has been recognized with distinction every year since it began.

  • 2006 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
  • 2007 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
  • Presidential Awardee for Service to Disadvantage Youth
      • 2008 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
      • 2009 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
      • 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
      • 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
      • 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
      • 2014 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
  • Categories: new in 2014
    • Education
    • General Community Service with Distinction
    • 2015 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction
    • 2016-Present - Program ceases under Trump Administration

2006 - 2025

In 2006, the University of Redlands was one of 67 schools in the United States to receive the Carnegie Foundation’s first classification in both community engagement and service learning. Re-classified in 2014, the University holds the classification as an “engaged campus” until 2025.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is committed to developing networks of ideas, individuals, and institutions to advance teaching and learning. The Carnegie Foundation joins scholars, practitioners, and designers in new ways to solve problems of educational practice. 


Since 2006 new children’s programs have been developed and existing programs have evolved to meet the changings needs of our community.  

Our College High School Mentoring Programs (CHAMPS) specifically targets high school students encouraging them to take a serious look at college or trade school. 

CSL’s partnership with Race and Ethnic Studies created the REACH Program and puts college student in classrooms at juvenile hall where mentoring relationships are encouraged.

Totally Kids Outreach (TKO) makes weekly treks to Totally Kids Specialty Healthcare where college students visit medically fragile children who are machine dependent.

Jasper’s Corner partnered with more off-campus partners to open new Jasper’s Corner sites including Mustard Seed Tutorial Center and the Redlands Community Center.

New special topics courses were created to teach team building and community coaching skills

A social justice themed residence hall was established in Fairmont called "Catalyst".

The University Humor Outreach Program (UHOP) was founded with the mission of using humor to build community and confidence as well as to provide workshops for local youth serving organizations.


Founded in 2010, the Sustainable University of Redlands Farm (SURF) is an ever-evolving campus farm that functions primarily as an outdoor classroom. The program was originally realized by a group of students at the Johnston College, an alternative education school that is part of the greater Redlands campus. It was originally installed on the far southwestern side of campus, and students involved in the project constructed a small garden patterned after a traditional Native American Zuni design. In 2010 the university began construction on a brand new studio art building, with the project slated to occupy the site of the Native American Garden. After several meetings with the university administration, the fledgling community service-learning gardening program was gifted a 2.1 acre parcel of land directly behind the upperclassmen apartments on the opposite end of campus; and managed by a cadre of work-study, CSAC , and community volunteers.


The CSL office worked with Facilities Management and Public Safety to relocate the Volunteer Center to the bottom floor of the Armacost Library to capture the "student flow," making it easier to get them engaged! 


CSL celebrated 25 years of learning through service with several former staff and friends returning for a homecoming anniversary celebration in October 2016.


CSAC became a university academic requirement as a Liberal Arts Inquiry (LAI) under Community Engagement and Reflection (CER).

The CSL Office, student gardeners as well as gardeners in residence completed the campus vineyard and saw SURF to its planned completion.  The Student Ambassador program began to take shape as an intentional way for students to recruit students for community partners.


The CSL Office celebrated 11 years of receiving the Tree Campus USA designation, open a student food pantry, and built a new tutoring outreach program for foster children. 


CSL celebrates its 30th anniversary!