Raritan Valley Community College President Michael J. McDonough, Ph.D., is being recognized nationally as the “Standout President” by the 2023 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
ALL IN Awards are presented in recognition of exemplary leadership in helping advance undergraduate student democratic engagement, including nonpartisan civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation, while advancing the work of ALL IN on campus.
The Nov. 14 awards celebration recognized efforts of individuals and college campuses in the 2022 elections.
McDonough was one of two recipients in the country honored as a Standout President or Chancellor of a college or university. Karrie Dixon, chancellor of Elizabeth City University, a four-year public institution that is part of the University of North Carolina System, received the Standout Chancellor Award.
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Tahesha Way, who also serves as Secretary of State, was honored with a Standout Secretary of State Award.
According to ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, the 2022 elections had the second highest youth voter turnout for a midterm election in 30 years.
More than 960 institutions enrolling 9.7 million students participated in the ALL IN Challenge, which supports colleges and universities in achieving excellence in nonpartisan student voter engagement.
“Despite nationwide attempts to undermine democracy through restrictive voting laws, college students made their voices heard during the 2022 midterm elections,” said Jen Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “The individuals we are celebrating … are leading the way on their campuses and in their communities to ensure that every student has the tools and information they need to participate in our democracy and cast their ballot.”
As part of RVCC’s voter engagement work, and with McDonough’s leadership and support, the college’s first poll worker project was developed during the November 2022 general election. The project was implemented in a timely response to a June 30, 2022 announcement by Gov. Phil Murphy, who signed a law permitting institutions of higher education to offer undergraduate credit to students who serve as poll workers during elections held in the state.
Giving academic credit to students, who could also be paid as a poll worker, was quickly enabled through RVCC’s nationally recognized Service Learning Program, which allows students to use community service as part of their academic coursework. More than 50 RVCC students served as poll workers in Somerset and Hunterdon counties as part of this initial offering.
Additionally, the poll worker project captured the attention of the Don and Penny Pray, whose gift of support through the RVCC Foundation covered the participating students’ training that is required before becoming a poll worker. It is anticipated that more RVCC students will be engaged in the poll worker project for the upcoming 2024 election, given the Prays’ donation.
RVCC’s voter engagement efforts are further supported by the 2021 signing of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Higher Education Presidents’ Commitment to Full Student Voter Participation. Through this declaration, Raritan Valley Community College joined more than 300 college presidents and chancellors across the country in supporting full student voter registration and participation in all elections.
The college’s faculty, staff, and students are committed to working together to increase electoral participation. In 2020, RVCC completed a Campus Democratic Engagement Action Plan, focusing on increasing student voting rates and encouraging students to become engaged, civic-minded citizens who are essential to a healthy democracy.
RVCC received the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge 2023 award for a Highly Established Action Plan; the 2022 inaugural ALL IN Most Engaged Campus for College Student Voting; and the 2021 Best Action Plan Award for the New Jersey Campus Voting Challenge – Community College.
The full list of ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge individual champion award winners may be viewed here.
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge (ALL IN) empowers colleges and universities to achieve excellence in nonpartisan student democratic engagement. ALL IN is an initiative of Civic Nation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Learn more here.