Office of Community Engagement

The Office of Community Engagement serves to connect our campus in collaborative partnership with local organizations to address issues that positively impact our community. We believe that through this engagement, our students, faculty and staff become knowledgeable, involved citizens within the community we serve and will contribute meaningfully to the overall social and economic success of the region, state and nation.

Community engagement is at the core of our mission, vision and strategic plan as a university.  The Office of Community Engagement supports these institutional values by:

  • Assessing community needs
  • Developing and coordinating strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships
  • Reporting and reflecting on the impact of these collaborations to our university and the communities that we serve

Who We Are

Casey Welch, Assistant Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations  941-359-4572

Mr. Welch has held a variety of government positions at both federal and state levels. He is a graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History.  Casey enjoys being involved in the Sarasota-Manatee community through various area organizations and activities.  Within External Affairs, he oversees the Office of Community Engagement and leads the Institute for Public Policy and Leadership.

Ben Heins, Coordinator, Internships and Service-Learning  941.359.4357

Mr. Heins oversees internships and service-learning opportunity development for all majors at USFSM. Previously, Ben was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing at Stockton University and a Community Director for a national multifamily property management organization. He has a BA in professional writing, an MFA in poetry, and over 50 publication credits. Ben believes USFSM is a vital community resource and seeks to deepen its impact by building mutually beneficial relationships between students, faculty, staff, and the greater community.


Amanda Vasquez, AmeriCorps VISTA  941.359.4401

Through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Ms. Vasquez is working with USFSM to build bridges between classrooms and communities, addressing societal needs through applied civic education and engaged citizenship. A recent graduate from USF St. Petersburg, Ms. Vasquez will liaise between USFSM and a variety of community partners in conjunction with The Office of Community Engagement and The Office of Student Success.