The Morgridge Center for Public Service is thrilled to welcome José Luis Ramirez Jr. to the professional staff team as the new assistant director for civic engagement.
Ramirez comes to the Morgridge Center with over a decade and a half of experience in higher education outreach and public service work rooted in community-campus partnerships. Ramirez worked most recently at the University of Wisconsin Department of Gender & Women’s Studies as the Graduate Program Coordinator and Chair’s Assistant after moving to Madison over a year ago from California.
He previously served as the assistant director of community-based research and learning and the assistant director for community engagement throughout the eight years with the Draper Center for Community Partnerships at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
He also worked as the Manager of Student Services for the California Teach Science & Mathematics Program at UC Irvine, as well as K-12 outreach and training coordinator and mathematics, engineering and science achievement (MESA) program coordinator at UC Berkeley.
Ramirez’s ties to public service work stem back to his time as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, where he was involved in several community-engaged programs before he joined AmeriCorps as a part time member his final two years.
“I was drawn to the position at Morgridge because I just enjoy this kind of work — because it doesn’t feel like work,” he says. “It’s like a passion for me.”
Ramirez is looking forward to bringing this experience to the Morgridge Center to help build and strengthen community partnerships and programs.
He is also excited to work with students at the Red Gym. The Morgridge Center hosts over 40 student interns who assist with coordinating programs, outreach, communications and operations.
Ramirez says he believes helping students get the most out of the professional experience will be a rewarding part of the assistant director for civic engagement position.
“I think students, oftentimes, they’re learning from the professional staff, but I think we as professional staff have as much to learn from our students as well,” he says. “So for me, it’s just the type of space that I enjoy being a part of.”
Ramirez hopes to continue the Morgridge Center’s work in examining how campus members enter community spaces and assessing how to best meet the needs of community members.
As a California native, he is looking forward to learning more about Wisconsin and the Madison community in a more intimate way as he dives into working with students, campus departments and community partners across the city.
Though the cold temperatures will be a big adjustment from California heat, Ramirez says the possibilities ahead make the winter weather well worth it.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity,” he says. “I think there’s always something to learn.”