The Commission on Public Purpose in Higher Education contributes to the fields of community engagement and social innovation through collaboration with students, faculty, community partners, institutions of higher education and networks for community engagement and social innovation.

Our Team

Dr. Mathew Johnson began his tenure as the 17th president of Albion College on July 1, 2020. A global leader in higher education, he leads the development of Carnegie Foundation Elective Classifications, the Elective Classification for Community Engagement, and a multi-year international Carnegie Community Engagement Classification project, involving 26 institutions of higher education across the world. Dr. Johnson co-founded and co-directs the National Assessment of Service and Community Engagement. He also sits on the editorial board for Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement, and has been recognized as an Ashoka Change Leader by the Ashoka Foundation. Dr. Johnson serves as a Carnegie Visiting Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and is a fellow at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University. He consults for universities globally and has led projects in Ghana, Bolivia, India and elsewhere. 

Prior to his tenure at Albion College, Dr. Johnson served as Associate Dean of the College for Engaged Scholarship, as well as Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service, at Brown University. Dr. Johnson led the development of a transformational strategic plan and oversaw the growth and development of curricular and co-curricular programs, including Brown in Washington, the Engaged Scholars Program, the Bonner Community Fellowship, the Brown University AmeriCorps VISTA Fellowship, Community Corps and the Royce Fellowship. He also guided new approaches to Faculty Fellowships and Community Practitioners in Residence. Under his leadership, the Swearer Center made significant curricular contributions to Brown, including guidance to departments endorsed by the College Curriculum Committee for capstones, for credit-related to experiential learning, and for the creation of a new curricular category for “community-based learning and research” courses.

Dr. Marisol Morales serves as the Vice President for the Commission on Public Purpose in Higher Education. In this role, Morales provides conceptual leadership and operational oversight to the Commission’s work. This includes the collaborative development of and responsibility for all initiatives, oversight and facilitation of relevant national and international advisory committees, conceptualizing and implementing extensive data archives as well as developing and enacting a shared vision regarding access to and use of the knowledge produced by the Commission to beneficially guide research, policy, and practice.

Prior to this role, she was the Vice President for Network Leadership at Campus Compact, from 2018-2022. Morales was the founding Director of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement at the University of La Verne from 2013-2018 and the Associate Director of the Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning and Community Service Studies at DePaul University from 2005-2013.  In 2020, she was appointed as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Community-Engaged Scholarship at University of Central Florida and also serves as an adjunct faculty in the ENLACE Higher Education Master’s program at Northeastern Illinois University.

Morales sits on the editorial board of the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, on the editorial advisory board of Liberal Education, a publication of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and on the board of the International Association for Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE). Dr. Morales holds a BA in Latin American/Latino Studies and a MS/MS in International Public Service Management both from DePaul University. She earned her Ed.D in Organizational Leadership at the University of La Verne in 2020. Her dissertation focused on the community engagement experiences of Latinx students at a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Dr. John Saltmarsh is Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Leadership in Education in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He has published widely on community-engaged teaching, learning and research, and organizational change in higher education, including, the co-edited book with Mathew Johnson, “The Elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification: Constructing a Successful Application for First-Time and Re-Classification Applicants” (2017), the co-edited book “Publicly Engaged Scholars: Next-Generation Engagement and the Future of Higher Education” (2016) the edited volume with Matthew Hartley, “‘To Serve a Larger Purpose:’ Engagement for Democracy and the Transformation of Higher Education” (2011) and with Edward Zlotkowski, “Higher Education and Democracy: Essays on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement” (2011). 

He is the co-author of the “Democratic Engagement White Paper” (NERCHE, 2009) and “Full Participation: Building the Architecture for Diversity and Public Engagement in Higher Education” (Columbia University Law School: Center for Institutional and Social Change, 2011). He was a Distinguished Engaged Scholar at the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University between 2017-2020, where he led the project in which the Swearer Center serves as the administrative partner with the Carnegie Foundation for elective Community Engagement Classification. He is also a Visiting Scholar with College Unbound in Providence, Rhode Island.

From 2005-2016 he served as the Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE). From 1998-2005 he was the director of the national program on Integrating Service with Academic Study at Campus Compact.

Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen is the Associate Director of the Commission on Public Purpose in Higher Education. Lauren has completed a BA in German from Hendrix College, MA in German Studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and is currently enrolled in the MS in Experiential Education at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her professional background includes experiential education and international study program management, national fellowship advising, and enrollment management. She received multiple study grants to Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands, including a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany in 2010-11.