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About us

Our mission

The Eckerd College St. Pete Center for Civic Engagement and Social Impact enriches student learning by bridging campus and community to address real-time problems facing the greater Tampa Bay area. Through community-based research, teaching and service, the Center prepares students to be action-oriented change agents in an evolving world.

Our founding

For more than half a century, Eckerd College students, faculty and staff have lived, learned, worked and thrived in the Tampa Bay area. Founded in September 2022 under former President Damián J. Fernández, Ph.D., from the strategic plan Onward: Strategy in Action, Eckerd College, 2021–26, the St. Pete Center connects faculty and students with local organizations to support and advance learning by doing, help our community address real needs, and leverage opportunities for growth and innovation.

The College is grateful to former Vice President for Strategy and Chief Operating Officer Kanika Tomalin, LP.D.; Associate Vice President for Strategy and Center Director David Gliem, Ph.D.; former Program Coordinator Jenny Fessler; and especially the Center’s founding, now former, co-directors Associate Professor of Management Jennifer Knippen, Ph.D., and Associate Dean of Faculty Jessica Thonen, MFA, for their vision and leadership in bringing the Center to fruition.

Opportunities for engagement

Here are several ways individuals and organizations contribute to the ECSPC mission:

  • Faculty Fellows—Eckerd College Faculty Fellows have been identified for their vision toward solving a problem in the community. These Faculty Fellows will collaborate with Eckerd students and the St. Petersburg community to create a course, research project or service initiative that addresses one of the Center’s areas of community impact.
  • Community Affiliate Program—Local organizations may propose a social problem, create engagement goals, host Eckerd student volunteers or interns and gain access to Eckerd’s campus space for project-related events and gatherings.
  • Service-Based Outreach—Targeted service opportunities catered to generating change in the Tampa Bay area in our four key categories are created, curated and completed by the Eckerd community in a partnership that supports multigenerational learning.


David E. Gliem, M.A., Ph.D.

ECSPC Director, Associate Vice President for Strategy, and Professor of Art History

With over 25 years of experience in higher education, David is a proud liberal arts graduate and passionate advocate for experiential, interdisciplinary, place- and problem-based teaching and learning. He seeks to put the liberal arts in action, as a catalyst for both individual and community transformation. Prior to directing the Center, David taught art history at the College, rising through the faculty ranks to professor, and served as chair of the Creative Arts Collegium. An art historian with specialties in European and American modernism, he has published and lectured on Japonisme, the French painter and printmaker Pierre Bonnard, 19th-century artistic reform movements, and visual rhetoric. And he has organized regional, national and international art exhibitions. His grant-funded work on experiential learning supported faculty development initiatives at Eckerd and at liberal arts colleges across the country.

Tanna A. Mancini ’06, M.A.

ECSPC Program Manager

Tanna is a proud 2006 graduate of Eckerd College, where she earned a B.A. in humanities. She received her M.A. in American studies at the University of South Florida before beginning her career teaching at-risk students in Pinellas County Schools. She later became an academic advisor at St. Petersburg College, where she served as the success coach and champion advisor for the College’s first-year experience program, Neighborhood for Success. In addition to her work experience, Tanna volunteered within the community as a tutor at the Pinellas Refugee Education Center and a board member for the Pinellas County ACLU. She enjoys engaging with Eckerd’s neighboring community through the St. Pete Center for Civic Engagement and Social Impact.