Dr. John Reiff has worked with civic engagement and service-learning for 35 years—first as a college teacher, then since 1996 as director of service-learning offices at two different institutions. From 1992 to 2000 he helped a small college in Tennessee, Tusculum College, focus itself on the “civic arts”—the knowledge and skills needed by citizens to work collaboratively to build solutions to community and societal problems. He oversaw the introduction of service-learning into the curriculum and created and directed the service-learning center.
Since 2000, Dr. Reiff has worked at UMass Amherst, directing what is now called UMass Civic Engagement and Service-Learning. He also oversees a Service-Learning Faculty Fellows program that has led about 150 faculty members from across the campus to develop service-learning courses, and he works with community organizations to leverage university resources for community goals. He has taught a range of service-learning courses at UMass, including courses on leadership, public policy, organizing, and mentoring. He consults with colleges and universities across the region to help them develop service-learning. In 2013 he was named the first Annual Higher Education Community Service Champion by the Massachusetts Service Alliance.
In 2012-2013, Dr. Reiff participated in a Study Group on Civic Learning and Engagement whose report formed the basis for the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education’s policy on civic learning adopted in 2014. In May, 2015, Dr. Reiff was appointed Director of Civic Learning and Engagement for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to help all public colleges and universities in Massachusetts make civic learning part of the experience of all of their students.