Celebrating Excellence: the 2024 Campus Compact Award recipients

Learn more about the inspiring stories and meaningful work of the Campus Compact Award recipients.

By Macey Heath, social media content specialist

June 05, 2024 | 10:45 a.m.

Campus Compact

From left to right: Professor Dave Muhovich, Max Lopez '25, Jesse Phenow '14, Professor Debbie Solomon

From advocating for indigenous peoples’ rights to supporting refugee communities, this year’s Campus Compact Leadership Award recipients are recognized for their contributions to their communities, reflecting Bethel’s vision for diversity and inclusion. Among the honorees are Bethel student Max Lopez '25; Bethel faculty Professor Debbie Solomon and Professor Dave Muhovich; Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota; and alumnus Jesse Phenow '14. These awards celebrate their exceptional contributions to their communities, reflecting Bethel’s vision for diversity and inclusion.

Iowa and Minnesota Campus Compact Awards recognize special achievements on campus and in the community. The Presidents’ Awards recognize outstanding contributions in civic and community engagement by students, faculty, staff, collaborative teams, and community organizations, and the Engaged Campus Awards recognize projects, partnerships, and programs related to civic and community engagement.

“Their generosity, curiosity, desire to connect with others, and willingness to honor the human dignity of diverse peoples knows no bounds."

— Dr. Claudia May

Bethel University President Ross Allen, on the advisement of Dr. Claudia May, executive director of the Center for Community Engaged Learning, acknowledged May’s nomination of the awardees selected for recognition. May notes that these awardees share common traits of relationality, humility, and a dedication to confronting social injustices and inequities.

“They embrace learning from those whom they encounter. Their generosity, curiosity, desire to connect with others, and willingness to honor the human dignity of diverse peoples knows no bounds,” says May. Through their collaborations with others, development of courses, co-creation of communal gatherings, and production of creative works, they’ve shown a commitment to redressing social disparities. These individuals ground their approach to co-partnership initiatives in a mindset of mutual respect.”

Max Lopez '25 | Presidents’ Student Leadership Award

Bethel student Max Lopez '25 (business and reconciliation studies double major) received the Presidents’ Student Leadership Award for his impactful initiatives in confronting social injustice and raising awareness within Bethel and wider communities. This includes two summers of taking part in environmental justice work with the Urban Farm & Garden Alliance, helping to enrich the Frogtown, Rondo, and Summit-University neighborhood gardens. He also participates in advocacy for Indigenous peoples' rights, organizing events centered on important social issues such as raising awareness around missing Indigenous women and oil companies digging on Indigenous land without consent.

He honors diverse communities through his work with Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, a traditional Mexica-Nahua dance group. He also leads the way for more students of color to be acknowledged as changemakers for present and future leadership awards. “Max is the first Mexican American (ChicanX) with Indigenous ties to the Zapotec (Cloud people) from Oaxaca, and man of color, to win the Presidents’ Student Leadership Award for Bethel University,” says May. Max’s work, along with his exceptional poetry and photography, showcases the human dignity of diverse communities.

Professor Debbie Solomon and Professor Dave Muhovich | Presidents’ Civic Engagement Leadership Award

Professor Debbie Solomon, clinical associate professor of nursing and Dave Muhovich, associate professor of nursing, received the Presidents’ Civic Engagement Leadership Award for their role in advancing Bethel University’s mission of co-building meaningful partnerships. They partnered with Vietnamese Social Services (VSS), which aided in facilitating transformative learning experiences for 56 nursing students in the 2023-2024 school year, engaging in community service activities and creating public health education materials, culminating in more than 1,000 hours of service to VSS under their leadership. Their collaborative efforts not only enrich student educational outcomes but also promote a culture of engagement and compassion.

Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota | Presidents’ Community Partner Award

Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota (VSS) was awarded the Presidents’ Community Partner award. VSS strongly commits to enhancing the quality of life for refugees and immigrants in Minnesota. Through sustained, reciprocal partnerships with Bethel’s nursing and community work-study students, VSS provides Bethel students with invaluable learning experiences.

“VSS staff members equip Bethel nursing students with practical skills on how to engage with community members and help them realize their goals and aspirations. VSS went far beyond the call of duty accompanying our nursing students as they participated in activities and services, contributing to the needs of a diverse community,” says May. Through VSS and its staff, values of compassion, dignity, and hard work are instilled in students who experience the power of bringing people together in multicultural communities. “The Center for Community Engaged Learning and the Bethel community are blessed and honored to work alongside, learn from, and accompany our fellow community collaborators,” she says. 

Jesse Phenow '14 | Engaged Campus Award for Alumni Leadership

Jesse Phenow was honored as the Engaged Campus for Alumni Leadership Awardee for his outstanding efforts in honoring the presence and contributions of K’nyaw and Karenni community members while advancing the observance of civic responsibilities in higher education. As co-founder of the non-profit organization, The Urban Village, Phenow alongside Carly Miller ‘13 and other Urban Village team members, supports refugee communities, preserves cultural heritage, and empowers youth with resources for educational and personal growth.

Displaced by war, these refugees and their descendants foster a generosity of support for one another while confronting disparities in the U.S. The Urban Village’s programs offer resources for academic enrichment, individualized and collective mentoring; establishing college scholarship funds and creating camp excursions. “Jesse Phenow recognizes that the K’nyaw and Karenni communities are his teachers and embraces the significance of their traditions, history, and heritage. His humanitarianism, teachability, and humility make him a worthy award nominee,” May says.

These exceptional individuals and organizations epitomize Bethel University's vision for diversity, reconciliation, and community engagement. Their collective efforts highlight the transformative power of a Bethel education—to create positive social change and help foster inclusive, thriving communities.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion at Bethel.

Bethel University aims to embody God's reconciling work by nurturing "Beth-El," the "House of God," embracing diversity, lamenting brokenness, fostering reconciliation, and embodying shalom.

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