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University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus

University of Colorado Denver, Newsroom

News Release

Experiential Learning Center director honored by national society

Photo of Lissa Gallagher, director of UC Denver's Experiential Learning Center

For the past 10 years the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) has been recognizing individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the emerging field of “experiential education”—a teaching method that results in a direct, hands-on learning experience for students. This year, Lissa Gallagher, director of the University of Colorado Denver’s Experiential Learning Center has been selected for NSEE’S Rising Leader Award for 2009.

The NSEE advocates the importance of direct learning experience as a means of building community, leadership and professional growth. Learning through experience enhances intellectual development, cross-cultural and global awareness, civic and social responsibility, ethical development, career exploration and personal growth.

In nomination for this award colleagues stated: “Lissa has developed our Experiential Education Center to include not only internships and co-ops, but has also worked diligently to build a service-learning, community engagement aspect. She has also advanced our institutional goals by working on committees to get Experiential Education as one of the signature assets offered by the University of Colorado Denver.”

Gallagher’s contributions to this effort include many years of service in career services and higher education, including 16 years of service as director of UC Denver’s Career Center. As the founding director of the Experiential Learning Center on the downtown campus, she also serves as the Western Regional Chair for the NSEE. Gallagher’s active leadership with NSEE combined with expertise and commitment towards mentoring others in experiential learning has earned her this award.

“It’s through experienced-based learning that one is better prepared to enter the professional market with a strong foundation based on real world context,” said Gallagher.

UC Denver’s Experiential Learning Center is committed to the development of the academic experience through a multi-faceted program that includes service learning, community engagement, undergraduate research, internships and co-ops. According to Gallagher there are plenty of internship opportunities currently available, even in this tough economy. 

“National studies of employers show that two-thirds of graduates have had internship experience and 30 percent have had co-op experience,” said Gallagher. “Employers are looking for graduates who have relevant experience prior to graduation. Students put themselves at a great disadvantage if they don’t pursue opportunities for experience early on. Employers definitely seek individuals who are civic minded and willing to serve their community.”

Gallagher will accept her award at the NSEE Conference in Dallas on Oct. 30.

The University of Colorado Denver is located in Denver on the Downtown Campus and on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo. UC Denver offers more than 120 degrees and programs in 13 schools and colleges and serves more than 28,000 students. For more information, visit the UC Denver Newsroom.


Contact: Tonya Ewers-Maikish, 303.315.6374,