ECCLS History

The Ettling Center for Civic Leadership, established by Sister Dorothy Ettling (CCVI) in 2013, is a collaborative relationship between the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) and CHRISTUS Health (CHRISTUS) that is dedicated to building social justice leadership. This involves more than a general commitment to be a good citizen in a democracy. Sr. Dot envisioned a center that would focus on the development of student leaders, civic engagement in the community, enhancement of academic service-learning opportunities, and the development of partnerships with local and global non-profit agencies to address the needs and issues of our global society within the construct of Catholic Social Teaching.

Alexis de Tocqueville, in his Democracy in America, reminded us nearly 180 years ago of the need for civic engagement, that the “health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.” Today, democracy places even greater demands upon its citizens to be globally conscious. Moreover, we at the University of the Incarnate Word strive to build a community of persons of diverse backgrounds, in the belief that mutual respect and interaction advances the discovery of truth, mutual understanding, self-realization, and the common good. In short by developing leaders on the university campus, we hope that by collectively interacting, conversing, and communicating the UIW community we will create a more diverse, open, welcoming, understanding, and civil atmosphere.

In the Fall of 2017, Sustainability was added to the Center’s portfolio to continue to provide the leadership and maintenance of the on and off campus Community Gardens, Sustainability Scholars, and other sustainable initiatives on campus. The Ettling Center for Civic Leadership & Sustainability continues to honor its founder and legacy through the implementation of over 150 programs, services, and activities conducted in collaboration with its campus and community partners during the 2021-2022 academic year, impacting over 45,000 global community members from inner-city San Antonio to Oaxaca, Mexico to Las Piedras, Puerto Rico.