A wise man once said that human beings should "widen our circle of compassion." That wise man was Albert Einstein and he was referring to a societal effort to close the gaps that divide and overcome separateness.
Western Connecticut State University supports the idea of people working together to share ideas and offer support whether to students, faculty or the community at large. That's why the university officially became a "University of Compassion" in October 2012, as an acknowledgement during the visit of the Dalai Lama.
Now the university is home of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation, which means that serves as a research hub for the local community to link people and organizations together to alleviate some societal issues. Kukk said the center could also be hub for research to help other universities and cities cultivate compassion. Not only is this a boon to the campus community, but the City of Danbury has followed Western's lead by becoming a "City of Compassion."
Students who nurtured the notion of compassion on campus and in the community hail from the WCSU Compassion and Creativity Club. The club is a grassroots effort in that "we were started from the ground up — we started with students," said Dr. Christopher Kukk, professor of political science and director of the Honors Program.
This spring the university senate committee voted to make WCSU the second university of compassion in the country which was followed by its recognition as the CCCI. Western is one of two universities in the country recognized by Compassion Action Network as a compassionate university.
At the end of June, it became official when the Board of Regents approved the Center. The Center has a governing board and an advisory board of community members, mostly area business leaders.
"This will help us to weave compassion in more meaningful ways throughout the community," Kukk said. "When we became a university of compassion, not only were we hoping to have it become a more important part of our everyday activities on campus, but it's spilled over into the community. In one way, we helped Danbury become a city of a compassion. Our students have brought compassion into the community by working on projects that have raised money for local charities."