Dr. Bryan Sokol, Director
Bryan is trained as a child development researcher, with a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. In addition to his role as the CSCE director, Bryan is a tenured, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Louis University, where he has taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students since 2007.
Bryan's intellectual hero is the American pragmatist philosopher, John Dewey. Bryan sees the CSCE's goals to connect the university to the broader community through experiential forms of learning and research partnerships as being closely aligned with Dewey's efforts to work at the intersection of several scholarly disciplines (e.g., philosophy, psychology, and education) and to live the life of a "public intellectual."
Besides his appreciation for Dewey's life and work, Bryan enjoys sharing stories, particularly about his three sons, over drinks. He is especially fond of single-malt whisky or a nice bottle of red wine. He also welcomes any opportunities to take a golf cart ride across campus.
Dr. Leah Sweetman, Assistant Director for Service-Learning
Leah has a background in urban community development, teaching, and non-profit leadership, so working in the Center for Service and Community Engagement seems like a perfect mix.
Through her work, she assists faculty with creating new service-learning courses or redesigning existing courses to integrate meaningful community service and reflection experiences into the curriculum. Leah received her Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis and Administration from Saint Louis University.
She has a research interest in how colleges and universities prepare students to serve in new and diverse settings and is working on ways to integrate those best practices into SLU's service programs.
Leah has called St. Louis home for the past 13 years but as she grew up in Wisconsin, she always enjoys talking to students about the Great Lakes, dairy farms, and Packers Football. When not at work, you will find her exploring St. Louis' many neighborhoods with her family.
Bobby Wassel, Assistant Director for Service and Outreach
Bobby Wassel currently services as the Assistant Director for Service and Outreach with the Saint Louis University Center for Service and Community Engagement. He has been working here at SLU and with the community in this capacity for almost 6 years.
Before this he spent a few years as a Campus Minister at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and also spent a year volunteering in Appalachia at a place called Nazareth Farm, working with issues of rural poverty in West Virginia. It was this profound experience of service with others that inspired him to choose a career that allows him to connect students to their own experiences of service.
He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Sociology from Indiana University ('03), and a Master's Degree in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University ('08). He currently resides in Shrewsbury with his (expecting!) wife, Kelly and daughter, Daphne. He loves movies, fantasy literature, politics, cheering on the Colts, Cubs, and Indiana Hoosiers, and spending time with his family.
James Hillis, Service and Justice Coordinator
James is the Service and Justice Coordinator, working in both the CSCE and Campus Ministry, where he oversees the Urban Plunge, Mission Trips, and various other justice-related initiatives. James completed undergraduate and graduate studies at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. A St. Louis native, he returned in 2009, joining the Saint Louis University community the same year.
In both Omaha and St. Louis, he has been fascinated by the role local universities have played in urban revitalization efforts and in building community. Guided by the university mission, he is proud to be with the CSCE team as it works to serve both the university and local community.
Besides being an avid Cardinals fan, James looks forward to spending time with family, his dog Hercules, and his ever increasing number of nieces and nephews. He is always on the lookout for an adventure, too, where service trips and work opportunities have taken him throughout South America and the Caribbean, as well as a stop in Australia.
Justin Vilbig, Program Assistant
Justin is a native of St. Louis. He grew up in a large family and spent most of his youth frolicking and fighting with his siblings. He graduated from St. Louis University High School in 2006 and went on to earn a B.S. in Anthropology and a B.S. in Political Science from Truman State University in 2010.
Beginning in high school and continuing to today, Justin grew a passion for community service. He places great value in the perspectives and friendships he earns while engaging others. This passion grew into his current position as an AmeriCorps volunteer. At the Center his responsibilities include community partner engagement and assessment, increasing student volunteerism, and reducing waste incurred at residence hall move-out.
Of his many interests, arguably the most prominent are community service (clearly), environmental justice, Mesoamerican archaeology (namely Maya), paleoanthropology, music, hot tea, bicycling, walking his dogs in Tower Grove Park, travelling, and, like Bryan, single malt scotch. Justin is always open for a discussion, so never hesitate to stop by or a drop a line to him at the Center.