Experienced Administrator is New UM Director of Community Engagement

Anthony Siracusa is first to hold position aimed at improving interaction and collaboration

Anthony Siracusa

OXFORD, Miss. – With a vision for an even more engaged campus, Anthony Siracusa has accepted the new position of director of community engagement at the University of Mississippi.

“I was both elated and honored to have been offered this position,” said Siracusa, who joined the Ole Miss administration in March. “I’m aware of the important community engagement work already being done at the University of Mississippi.

“Being the first person in this particular role, which allows me to co-create the vision for the future, is very special.”

Formerly assistant director of the Collaborative for Community Engagement at Colorado College, the Memphis native has a track record of successful strategic planning and implementation of engagement programs at higher education institutions since the late 1990s.

Siracusa’s responsibilities include building and leading a team of university employees and students in fulfilling the mission of the community engagement office, developing and administering programs and activities that increase the engagement capacity of the university, community partners, students, faculty and staff. He is also creating and administering community engagement tracking and systems that complement and build on existing university systems.

He also will collaborate with instructional faculty and staff to create, redesign or designate community-engaged learning courses. He will maintain a positive multidisciplinary environment while developing and sustaining relationships with other universities, scholars, practitioners and community partners while identifying and helping secure resources to support the office’s initiatives and growth.

“Siracusa’s greatest strengths are his optimism, accomplishments as a trusted community partner and scholar, and his ability to authentically connect with people from different walks of life,” said Cade Smith, assistant vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. “He has a two-decade track record of forming and sustaining transformative community-engaged partnerships, first as a community member, then as a student and, ultimately, as an engaged scholar.”

Beginning about two decades ago as a teenage community leader, Siracusa served as a catalyst to improve community mobility through cycling by merging community assets, grassroots activism, and city planning and governance.

His professional strengths matured as a nontraditional student at Rhodes College. As a Bonner scholar, he worked more than 300 hours a year sustaining community engagement, and as a Watson fellow, Siracusa traveled to eight countries in a year, studying bicycle cultures.

After graduation from Rhodes, Siracusa served his alma mater as community service coordinator and directed both the Kinney and Bonner scholarship programs. His efforts inspired other students, faculty, staff and community members to join the community engagement movement in Memphis.

An accomplished scholar of history with an emphasis in religion and nonviolence in the Black Freedom Movement, Siracusa earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Vanderbilt University. Recently, his first monograph, “The World as It Should Be: Religion and Nonviolence Before King,” was finalized for publication in the Justice, Power and Politics Series by University of North Carolina Press.

The administrator has begun to set short- and long-term goals for himself in the new position.

“I’m developing a three-tiered program for our students, which will allow them to participate in community engagement at low, medium and high levels of commitment,” he said. “I’m also seeking to provide a support system connecting our faculty and staff involved in community engagement with resources they can access for their work.

“Lastly, I plan on meeting with our community partners and seeing how we can help them achieve their goals while also supporting students and faculty.”

Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, said she looks forward to working with Siracusa and his staff.

“Siracusa’s calling, scholarly accomplishments and community leadership have exemplified every element of our mission,” Caldwell said. “He has not only excelled in this work, but he has created programs and infrastructures that have elevated the well-being and productivity of other engaged scholars and community members.”