Kevin Michael Days ’92, has been named executive director of the New York Campus Compact. Appointed by NYCC’s executive committee, a body composed of 10 New York university and college presidents, including Cornell President Hunter R. Rawlings III, Days becomes the first director of the young community service organization.
Following a meeting at Syracuse University in November 2000, the 10 charter universities and colleges founded NYCC in 2001, making New York the 26th state to undertake the mission of the National Campus Compact. Its purpose is to encourage institutions of higher education to develop ways for its students and faculty to become active members of the community beyond academia. Cornell was a charter member of the organization, which now consists of 51 colleges and universities in New York.
Although it was founded prior to Sept. 11, Days cited the landmark date as a stimulus for enhanced and renewed commitment to public service.
“We are re-imagining the role of higher education in American society today, and, especially in the aftermath of Sept. 11, we are seeing a commitment to community service,” Days said.
“Universities have tremendous resources that ought to be used to help solve the problems that face our society,” he added.
Days currently resides in Auburn, N.Y., but he has lived downstate as well and has attended both private and public colleges in New York, including Cornell and the State University of New York (SUNY) Plattsburgh. He feels that his range of regional and educational experiences prepares him well to head the statewide organization.
“I think I embody both the upstate-downstate distinction and the public school-private school distinction,” Days observed.
Days has engaged in public service for some time. Prior to his appointment as head of NYCC, he was the executive director of the Booker T. Washington Community Center, “a multicultural, community-based human service center,” according to an NYCC press release announcing Days’s appointment.
He is a member of the Cayuga County NAACP Board of Directors, the Human Services Coalition and the Auburn School Board, among other community activities.
Christopher C. Dahl, president of SUNY Geneseo and co-chair of NYCC, describes Days as a proven “leader of complex organizations and as a committed advocate for community development and social change.”
As executive director of NYCC, Days will be working closely with the executive committee and with NYCC co-chairs Dahl and Mark D. Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Days has been hired for a “three-year commitment.” His first-year goal is for NYCC to “provide services” to their constituents. One of these constituent groups consists of the universities whose presidents sit on the executive board and who coordinate the effort. Another constituent group is composed of “community partners,” such as local after-school programs and services for the elderly.
Another constituent group is made up of university and college faculty; Days would like to encourage a “shift in the way faculty teach students,” so that “service learning is given the credit” it deserves.
The final, and, Days noted, most important constituent group that NYCC seeks to serve, consists of students.
“We want to provide students and faculty a way of connecting with the community. Students must have a strong voice in this endeavor; they should dictate the way it goes.”
To that end, NYCC includes an advisory committee of students. The committee is planning a conference to be held at Cornell later this year.
Days has high hopes for student involvement in public service.
“This has the potential to be the dominant student movement of the 21st century.”
Archived article by Erica Gilbert-Levin