Dan Hall, UofL’s vice president for the Office of Community Engagement, joined the university in the fall of 1985 after spending seven years in Washington, DC, working on Capitol Hill with Louisville Congressman Ron Mazzoli.
His office is responsible for the facilitation, coordination, assessment and recognition of the community engagement activities of faculty, staff and students, and also directs the activities of the Signature Partnership Initiative.
In addition to serving on numerous community boards, Hall is co-founder of the Louisville Public Radio Partnership Board of Directors. The Louisville native, Central High School graduate, is also a three-time Golden Gloves Champion. He earned his undergraduate from Dartmouth College, Law degree from Harvard University and Master of the Arts in Theological Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
UofL News had the chance to talk to Hall about his career and how the concept of community engagement has changed in the past three decades.
UofL News: What made you come back to Louisville?
Dan Hall: I was approached by UofL to oversee governmental, public and community relations. I accepted the position thinking it would provide a great opportunity to reconnect with the community before resuming my law practice. Little did I know at the beginning that it would become a labor of love for 31 years. Also, my wife Sheila and I were delighted to return home to raise our three young children in a community that is so family friendly.
UofL News: In your time here, what has surprised you the most and what accomplishments have made you most proud?
Dan Hall: I was pleased to discover that very few things of significance happen in this community without the direct or indirect involvement of this wonderful university. As an anchor institution, UofL usually is involved in major new initiatives in the areas of education, healthcare, economic development, technology, social services and the arts and culture. I soon realized that UofL provided me with a wonderful platform from which to make a difference in our community.
I am particularly proud to have been the first African American appointed to a vice president position here at UofL. I’m proud that I successfully secured a prominent role for UofL during the enactment of the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997. This historic law assigned to UofL its current mission to become a premier metropolitan research university. As a part of this legislation, the General Assembly appropriated the initial funds to create the Research Challenge Trust Fund known as the “Bucks for Brains” program. This historic legislation and funding established the foundation and trajectory for UofL to become a major research university that is helping to transform and advance our community.
Of course, I’m also very proud of the nationally recognized Signature Partnership Initiative with west Louisville. Last year more than 2,000 UofL undergraduate, graduate and professional students, along with over 600 UofL faculty and staff, participated in more than 100 research or service-learning projects in collaboration with many community partners.
UofL News: How has the concept of community engagement changed during your career?
Dan Hall: In the world of higher education, community engagement is now regarded as a critically important pedagogy for teaching students, conducting research or focusing service. In years past, community engagement simply was deemed to be a one-way street with the university reaching out to community to benefit society. The academy now understands there is a mutual benefit to community engagement. Not only does the community benefit, but student learning outcomes are advanced when students leave campus and apply what they learn in the classroom or laboratory to solving or addressing real-world issues.
UofL News: What has been your favorite thing about working here? What is your favorite part of campus?
Dan Hall: Having access to good basketball and football tickets has been my favorite thing about working at UofL. The panoramic views of campus from the windows in my office on the second floor of Grawemeyer Hall overlooking the Oval are second to none.
UofL News: What are your retirement plans?
Dan Hall: My family, including five grandchildren, will now have me full-time. I look forward to staying connected with community sharing the love of God and sharing the word of God.
The university community is invited to attend a retirement reception for Hall on June 22, from 4-6 p.m. in the University Club Ballroom.
A short program will begin at 5 p.m. Additional information is available online.