Community service RSOs see promise in new adviser

The University of Chicago Service Center has appointed its first Community Service Adviser.

By Sydney Combs

The University of Chicago Service Center (UCSC), filling a position it conceived of last spring, has appointed a new administrator to expand its involvement further in service-oriented RSOs and the communities where they work.

Crystal Pernell, formerly marketing and communications manager at the Hyde Park Art Center, became the UCSC’s first Community Service Adviser October 19. She is responsible for assisting RSOs in composing bylaws, collaborating on projects with the University and the civic community, and navigating the University’s funding allocation process.

Pernell’s appointment comes months after the UCSC selected its newest director, Amy Chan, with expectations that she improve the collaboration among service RSOs.

“With Crystal’s arrival, I have been able to focus my time and attention on overseeing the implementation of ongoing programs and exploring new initiatives for the Center,” Chan said in an e-mail.

The new position will enable Chan to focus on larger-picture objectives, since service RSOs traditionally have reported directly to the UCSC’s director.

“It’s a lot of work and it’s hard to give the RSOs the one-on-one attention that they need to feel supported by the director, because the director is doing a lot of other things,” Pernell said.

Pernell intends to facilitate communication between student groups through networking sessions and a symposium at the end of the year.

Pernell said she is focusing her attention on long-term event planning, but also trying to get a handle on the workings of the University and the different RSOs. Next quarter she will take over the Days of Service and Group Service Referral programs.

“The adviser will be the person thinking ahead for opportunities and planning larger, collaborative programs between them,” Pernell said.

Students from service RSOs say they already have noticed Pernell’s influence.

“She knows the community, is helpful, approachable, and knows a lot, especially considering she’s new,” third-year and Southside Solidarity Network member Olivia Woollam said, explaining that the new position has made it easier to secure support from the UCSC.

“ they had so many other things going on. It was difficult to get a reply in a timely manner,” she said.