Funding allows Hanover to enhance responsible citizenship efforts

aerial campus photo with red logo

Preparing students for responsible, engaged, and effective citizenship has been an integral part of Hanover College’s mission for nearly 200 years. Yet in this sharply divided age, once-common conversations are now more highly charged, often intimidating and frequently divisive. As a result, American society needs stronger efforts to foster more respectful and empathetic dialogue.

Hanover will now be able to enhance efforts to emphasize the importance of responsible citizenship with the infusion of a $50,000 grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), a generous contribution from Barbara Oney Garvey, professor emeritus of communication, as well as matching funds from the College and other donors.

“As an institution of higher learning, Hanover has historically been associated with enquiry and dialogue,” said Professor of Communication Bill Bettler, who will serve as program director and lead the College’s initiative. “This grant gives us the opportunity to return to our strengths – the gifts that have always been at the heart of a liberal arts education: listening, research, introspection, discussion and fellowship.”

Garvey, an influential rhetorician who served Hanover’s faculty from 1977-2013, made the donation in honor of her parents, J.B. and Mary Nell Oney, and their pioneering work as advocates for social justice and vigorous political dialogue. Garvey noted, “The true history of rhetoric is citizenship. It is extremely important to make the effort to get people to be their better self and work together to make a better society.”

Hanover is among a select group of U.S. colleges and universities to receive the NetVUE program development grant, which must be expended May 1, 2022-April 30, 2024. The award, along with other contributions, will allow the College to take additional steps to develop skills and characteristics necessary for effective citizenship, and to also identify personal and societal factors that undermine the traits of effective citizenship.

During the two-year period, Hanover will cultivate a group of campus leaders, including students, employees and trustees, who value the College’s role in equipping students for the calling of citizenship. These members of the campus community will lead broader conversations that intentionally gather diverse voices. Hanover will also facilitate workshops, lead field trips and create a multi-generational, multi-perspective think tank to address and encourage dialogue on complex social, economic and political issues.

“The grant brings together multi-generational participants and creates a space where inquiry and dialogue can flower into social action,” said Bettler. “This grant is a beacon of hope, a vessel of optimism and an affirmation of our faith in the power of community over division.”

Launched in 2009, NetVUE is a nationwide association of colleges and universities formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students. The network, which currently has 272​ institutional members and eight organizational members, is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) with support from Lilly Endowment Inc.

“The high level of interest in this competitive grant program reflects the deep commitment of NetVUE member colleges and universities to deepen vocational exploration and discernment among undergraduate students,” said Marjorie Hass, CIC president. “Grant applicants proposed a wide range of demonstrably effective strategies for building their campus capacities for this important work, even in these challenging times. Hanover College was selected based on the strength of their proposal.”