Washington College recently appointed Pat Nugent as its new Director of Civic Engagement. The appointment highlights the institution’s dedication to fostering strong relationships between the college, its students, and the surrounding community.
During Monday night’s meeting, Nugent introduced his new role to the town council, saying that his priority is to support students, staff, and faculty in building collaborations with community partners and striving for a healthier and more sustainable Chestertown.
Nugent believes such opportunities are win-win situations, providing real learning experiences for students and benefiting community partners. These partners include numerous non-profits, local businesses, and even the town council.
As part of his role, Nugent is open to feedback from community partners to ensure that the partnerships are not only serving the students’ learning experience but also genuinely helping the community. He hopes to work closely with the town to explore ways to make Chestertown’s democracy more robust, participatory, and inclusive.
“I love the idea of partnering with the town to enhance Chestertown’s democracy and make it more robust, participatory, and inclusive. We could collaborate on research around voting rates or any other measure that could help us gauge the robustness of a small town’s democracy. This could be a great opportunity for us to think through this question in the long run,” he said.
The director envisions partnering on research projects related to voting rights and increasing voting rates in small rural towns. He disputes the notion that Chestertown is “in the middle of nowhere,” instead arguing that the town’s size and location provide students with unique opportunities to make a real impact.
Washington College students have already found themselves in positions of influence, serving on the boards of local non-profits and working closely with town officials. Nugent’s appointment is expected to further expand these opportunities for students, making the relationship between the college and the town even stronger.
The new Director is also keen to involve faculty in these community engagement initiatives. The college already boasts strong connections between faculty and community organizations, such as collaborations with local education and sociology departments on projects like literacy education and housing surveys.