The Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic & Urban Engagement

Described by former Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher as “the model” for how universities should engage with their communities to promote economic development and ensure that generation of students are committed to civic engagement, the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic & Urban Engagement plays a vital role in addressing our community’s most significant challenges, and in preparing students for lifelong citizenship and service in their own communities.

The development of the Center, established in 2008, is the most visible manifestation of the university’s commitment to community service, civic engagement, and economic partnership with the local and regional community. The Center ties Wittenberg to the community and the community to Wittenberg through a series of student internships and projects, which offer our students a rich array of experiential learning opportunities. It also provides a single point of contact for community members who want to engage Wittenberg, and leverages the university’s intellectual asset to propel greater Springfield forward.

About Susan Hirt Hagen

I am deeply grateful to have met and come to know Susan Hirt Hagen. Surely that is partly because she endowed the Hagen Center, giving us significant resources to use to connect Wittenberg constructively and creatively to the Springfield community. Our students, faculty and staff owe her a debt of gratitude for opportunities for community service, service learning, internships and community research that have deepened their learning and developed their commitments. The people of the Springfield community have been significantly enriched by the participation of Wittenberg’s people in meeting their deepest needs by developing creative and intelligent responses to those needs. However, in the process I also got to know a woman who was not only a generous giver but also a thoughtful and committed citizen and a person with both firm beliefs and a great sense of humor. We our poorer for her leaving us but grateful to have felt her presence among us. With gratitude we accept the challenge to use the resources she had shared with us effectively and consistent with her vision for us.

Warren Copeland
Faculty Director
Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic & Urban Engagement

“Service is a cornerstone of my life,” said Ms. Hagen when she generously gave $6 million to endow The Center for Civic & Urban Engagement. “I believe that through this investment, the Center will be able to continue to connect my alma mater’s resources and expertise not only to improve the community, but also countless lives.”

For more than 40 years, Hagen has worked diligently to improve the lives of residents in her own hometown. From helping with efforts to curtail teenage pregnancy and school dropout rates to volunteering with the United Way, Ms. Hagen has earned several awards including the Alexis de Tocqueville Award and the 2010 Distinguished Citizen of the Commonwealth Award.

In May 2011, Ms. Hagen, an emerita member of the Wittenberg Board of Directors, received an honorary doctor of humane letters from Wittenberg, which followed an earlier Wittenberg Alumni Citation Award in 1982. A long-time board member of the Fortune 500 Erie Insurance Group, founded by her father, H.O. Hirt, Wittenberg class of 1911, Ms. Hagen received the highest honor for community service in Erie, the Edward C. Doll Awarded in 2009, as well as the 2010 Sustainer of the Year Award from the Junior League of Erie.

Hagen and her husband Tom are the proud parents of Sarah Hagen McWilliams, Wittenberg class of 1988, a current member of the university’s Board of Directors and son Jonathan.

Stephanie McCuistion
Administrative Director
Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic & Urban Engagement