NORTH CANTON  Walsh University and United States 16th District Congressman Jim Renacci are establishing the James B. Renacci Forum & Center for Civic Engagement, which will serve as an epicenter for collaboration, research and civic engagement on the Walsh Campus.

Dr. Douglas Palmer, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs at Walsh University, explained how the partnership formed.

"The idea grew out of continued discussion between Renacci and Walsh University about how to engage and inspire students to be civically active," wrote Palmer via email. "Congressman Renacci has donated his own personal funds to create these unique initiatives at Walsh.

"(Congressman) Rennaci said that he identifies deeply with the mission of Walsh University to educate students through a values-based education with an international perspective in Judeo-Christian tradition. His relationship to Walsh University includes the establishment of the James B. Renacci Government Scholars Program in 2013 to provide Walsh students with an opportunity to enhance their experiences in pursuit of a career in government or community service at the state, local or federal level. The Renacci Government Scholars Program provides scholarship and internship opportunities in the field for students who are in need of financial assistance. The James B. Renacci Forum and Center for Civic Engagement will expand the mission of the Renacci Government Scholars Program by creating a place for all students to connect."

The center will be a collaborative place for government scholars, faculty, students and community. Students will be tackling issues on a regional level.

"Students will be tackling issues of hungry, poverty, education, healthcare and more," wrote Dr. Palmer. "The goal is to help guide students as they seize what they are learning in class and turn thought into action."

The Center will also be hub for the Renacci Lecture Series.

"The Renacci Senior Fellows Program participants will include senior civic and political leaders from around the world who will share insights and real-world experience with the greater Walsh community," wrote Palmer.

The Center will not just be available to students who are interested in government or politics. Palmer said it also will be utilized by all Walsh students and will serve as the campus center for collaboration, research and civic engagement across all academic programs and was specifically designed to promote interdisciplinary interaction.

"The James B. Renacci Forum and Center for Civic Engagement will be located in Walsh’s newest building, the Global Learning Center," said Palmer. "Currently under construction, this new state-of-the-art facility will include classrooms such as media lab, engineering classroom and video production lab. In addition, a spacious atrium inside the building will serve as the backdrop from lectures, public programs, exploration including the new Chapel. Professional advisors will be on hand to guide students as they look for internships in our career readiness center."

Palmer said the Renacci Center will join the university’s establishment of two new research institutes in Applied Humanities and Community Health, where faculty will work collaborative with students in research initiatives that will include a focus on service to the community. All three will provide channels for discussion, opportunities for collaboration and platforms for debate on issues that impact all Americans as those that have global implications.

By the mission of the University and its Catholic affiliation, students at Walsh are doing a number of community service activities. The center will serve as the hub to help coordinate these opportunities.

"Yes, students will tackle fundamental issues facing our Northeast Ohio communities, the solutions to which will have a ripple effect to impact not just the local community but the global community as well," said Palmer. "One of the goals is to inspire the next generation to be politically aware and civically engaged as community leaders. But, taking an active role in the community doesn’t necessarily mean you have to run for office. It’s about being involved and making sure your voice is heard."