The Center for Civic Engagement at UMass Dartmouth was established in the fall of 2009 as a part of Chancellor Jean MacCormack's plan to restructure the University's education programs to address the critical needs facing public education in the Southcoast region. The center's mission was to enhance student learning through the application of concepts, content, and skills drawn from their academic disciplines while meeting a need in a community, civic, or non-profit organization through the use of service-learning pedagogies.
On April 27, 2012, the center was renamed the Robert and Jeanne Leduc Center for Civic Engagement for the generosity of Robert, Class of ’78, and his wife, Jeanne.
Robert received his BS in Mechanical Engineering when UMass Dartmouth was still Southeastern Massachusetts University. He rose through the ranks of United Technologies Corporation and served as the president of Hamilton Sunstrand, a market leader in the design, manufacture, and service of military, commercial, and business aircraft systems, for 10 years before serving as president of Sikorsky Aircraft in 2015. Robert then served as president of Pratt & Whitney from 2016-2020.
Jeanne was born and raised in Fall River, one of eleven children of the late Russell and Theresa Roy. Jeanne is the epitome of an individual whose life is enriched by the integration of academics and personal service. From Jeanne’s professional commitment as an ER nurse for 20 years to her volunteer activities in soup kitchens; serving as a mentor and friend to disadvantaged youth in an after-school program; and her role as a founding member and supporter of the Africa Teacher Foundation, Jeanne’s selflessness in evident in all that she does.
Their gift serves as an expression of their belief in investing in the people and places that have been a part of their lives.
In January 2014, the Leduc Center received a $1.14 millions philanthropic gift from an anonymous donor to honor Reverend Dr. Robert P. Lawrence, whose work in and service to the community is the exemplar of civic engagement. The gift is invested in civic engagement-related programs.
He was Pastor Emeritus of the First Congregational Church in Fall River, MA where he served as Senior Minister for 22 years. He also served as Senior Minister of the United Congregational Church in Little Compton, RI. Beyond his church, Reverend Lawrence was a chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and founded the Pastoral Care Department at the former Union-Truesdale Hospitals, now known as the Charlton site of the South Coast Hospital Group. He served as a chaplain for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and aboard the famous grand ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mary II cruise ship.
Reverend Lawrence received an honorary degree in humanities from UMass Dartmouth in 2007 in recognition of his spiritual and civic leadership spanning more than 50 years.