Worcester State University today announced it is naming its civic engagement center, which has offices in the Student Center, after alumnus and longtime 17th Worcester District State Representative, the late John J. Binienda ’70, D.P.A., h.c. ’14, whose career was devoted to civic engagement and service.
Earlier this summer, Representative Binienda donated $100,000 to Worcester State University to support and expand its Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement’s programs. The university in turn opted to rename the center The Honorable John J. Binienda Center for Civic Engagement.
The gift will ensure that future generations of students can experience the rewards of giving back as well as develop a sense of civic responsibility – values that Representative Binienda exemplified through his life and work. Proceeds from investment of the gift will be used to annually support and expand the Binienda Center’s programming.
“We gratefully acknowledge Representative Binienda’s generosity, and have renamed our Service Learning and Civic Engagement Center in his honor: The Honorable John J. Binienda Center for Civic Engagement,” said WSU President Barry M. Maloney. “As a public university in the city, Worcester State University has always been committed to serving the community. With this gift, our students will be rewarded for community service, as well as gain experience, via internships, with organizations committed to the causes Representative Binienda championed.”
“I am grateful and humbled by this generous gift from Representative Binienda, and we welcome the opportunity to rename our center,” said Mark Wagner, Ph.D., director of the engagement center. “We are establishing a new award named in his honor, to be given to a student who exemplifies Representative Binienda’s public service commitment.”
According to Wagner, some funding will also be used to connect the Center more closely with the City of Worcester and with organizations that work to renew practices of democracy and promote civic values. The aim is to support students directly, as well as to continue and expand the Center’s work in engaging students in the causes that were dear to Representative Binienda. Those included assisting children who were born blind or with hearing loss, and aiding those facing re-entry issues following incarceration.
“Funding for internships and scholarships for students working in these areas will allow Representative Binienda’s legacy to endure,” said Wagner.
In July, Representative Binienda was made aware of the University’s intent to name the Center in his honor. He responded to the University’s announcement by stating: “I am humbled to have the Civic Engagement Center named in my honor. Worcester State University has always been high on my list of priorities and I am grateful for the wonderful education I received at WSU. I am pleased that I am able to ‘give back’ to the University and, especially, to its bright and talented student body, our next generation of leaders.”
Vice President for University Advancement Thomas McNamara noted that, consistent with his “pay it forward” approach, Representative Binienda had a long history of giving to Worcester State’s annual fund, and had been an active supporter of his alma mater in many ways.
Representative Binienda was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Public Administration by Worcester State University last May.
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