UGA VP Del Dunn Remembered through Fund for Service-learning

Wes Mayer

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

Without Del Dunn, there would be no Office of Service-Learning at the University of Georgia.

During his decades-long career at UGA, Dunn was active on many committees and task forces dedicated to strengthening and expanding learning experiences for students. One of these was the Task Force on General Education and Student Learning, which was co-chaired by Dunn, then vice president for instruction, and UGA President Jere Morehead, then vice provost for academic affairs. Recommendations from this report led Dunn and Art Dunning, former vice president for Public Service and Outreach, to forge a partnership that founded the UGA Office of Service-Learning in 2005.

Dunn passed away in 2021, and this year, his wife, Ann, created the Delmer Delano Dunn Fund for Service-Learning in his memory. This generous endowment will provide ongoing support for the Office of Service-Learning, and it will be fully matched by the University of Georgia Foundation from unrestricted funding.

“Del had a long-time interest in programs that would provide both financial and hands-on experience to students in post-secondary education and help them be successful in their careers,” Ann Dunn said. “In thinking about how I might honor Del, I could think of no better way than to support the programs and opportunities offered through the Office of Service-Learning here at the University of Georgia. I know he was extremely pleased when the programs were established, and in retirement, he continued his interest and enthusiasm in these programs.”

The Delmer Delano Dunn Fund will help the Office of Service-Learning expand its reach in the Athens-Clarke County community and provide more opportunities to UGA students through its many programs, including Experience UGA and Campus Kitchen, its AmeriCorps VISTA network, and its two new programs, the AmeriCorps Community Food Fellows and an upcoming after-school youth sports and literacy tutoring initiative. Specifically, it will assist the Office of Service-Learning in funding student support, travel expenses, new supplies and equipment, membership fees and conference registrations, and any other business- or education-related expenses.

“I am so honored that his beloved wife Ann has chosen to remember Dr. Dunn’s contributions to service-learning at UGA by helping us develop even more opportunities for students to have these experiences,” said Shannon Brooks, director of the Office of Service-Learning. “It is so wonderful to know he is still a part of our work. Dr. Dunn’s legacy and impact at UGA is extensive and was felt across campus, but the vision for and founding of the Office of Service-Learning is something I know he was personally very proud of supporting and spearheading.”

Since its inception, the Office of Service-Learning has provided thousands of UGA students with opportunities to apply what they’re learning in the classrooms to a real-world community setting. More than 500 service-learning courses were taught last year, and more than 40% of all undergraduate students take a service-learning course before they graduate. Through these courses last year alone, UGA students served more than 340,000 combined hours with community organizations throughout Georgia and beyond, providing an estimated $10 million in direct benefit to these communities.

Dunn’s legacy at UGA extends well beyond the Office of Service-Learning. He came to the university in 1967 as a political science faculty member and taught hundreds of students, wrote three books and authored dozens of chapters and journals as an educator. He was a member of the UGA Teaching Academy, an Honors Program faculty member and a Senior Teaching Fellow. In 1982, he was awarded the title of Regents’ Professor of public administration and policy in the School of Public and International Affairs.

Dunn always found it important to financially support students with resources to give them the tools to succeed. This belief began early in his career when he won a Congressional Fellowship provided by the American Political Sciences Association. From 1968 to 1969, Dunn worked in the office of Sen. Walter F. Mondale, and his primary duty was to serve on the senator’s staff in higher education with the goal of providing more federal support for post-secondary education. This effort ultimately laid the foundation for the Pell Grant.

Dunn was a leader throughout his career, and prior to serving as vice president for instruction, Dunn was the director of the Institute of Higher Education, the associate vice president for academic affairs, acting head of the political science department and director of the UGA Institute of Government. He was an inspiration to many at the university, and his dedication to provide every UGA student with opportunities to learn beyond the classroom will continue through this endowment.

“Del and I had many conversations over the years, even after he retired,” Brooks said. “He was a mentor and friend who always provided encouragement, advice, and reminders of our mission and purpose to engage students in the community as a fundamental part of their academic experience at UGA.” Those interested in celebrating the impact of the late Dr. Dunn are invited to send a charitable contribution to the University of Georgia Foundation designated for the Delmer Delano Dunn Fund for Service-Learning.