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Mielke joins Office for Civic Engagement at Widener University

Gretchen Mielke, Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement

Gretchen Mielke, Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement

Gretchen Mielke of Ridley, Pa. joined the Office of Civic Engagement at Widener University as assistant dean in July. Before taking on this role, Mielke served as manager for general education and academic learning community assessment at American University, where she also served as program coordinator for the Community-Based Research Scholars and AU Scholars programs.

Throughout her career, Mielke has always found herself working in community engagement in different capacities. Once learning of the opportunity at Widener, she was excited that it offered a chance to work directly with students, as that is where her true passion is.

“I want to work with students to help make them be extraordinary in their own right,” Mielke said. “It was obvious that Widener was a school that not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk.”

Mielke has experience with both domestic and global civic engagement, completing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea with an interest in comparing volunteerism in the United States and Korea. She also performed national campus consulting and AmeriCorps compliance as a program associate for the Bonner Foundation.

While at American University she was responsible for living learning communities that focused on community based research and worked with first year scholar students that presented in interdisciplinary teams at a symposium. She worked closely with faculty to create the structure for the new program, which included training and assessment. Mielke spent time assisting coordination for their Alternative Break programs, which focused on international travel.

She also worked as the assistant director of Academic Community Engagement and the Bonner Leaders Program at Siena College.

At Widener, Mielke is looking forward to supporting the university’s nationally recognized tradition of civic engagement and deepening campus-wide civic engagement initiatives.

“I want to be the bridge on campus,” she said. “Widener has so many best practices in place. I see a lot of potential to expand these across campus.”

Mielke hopes she can provide students with a deeper service experience that is more integrated during their time at Widener. “I want to build more strategic long-term partnerships for the students so they can make a greater impact,” she said.

Mielke earned her master’s degree in international relations from American University and her bachelor’s degree in American Studies at Dickinson College. A doctorate is next on her list of pursuits.

Off campus, the Easton, MD native enjoys spending time with her dogs, Jose and Diego, both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and her husband Chris. She is also an avid cheese lover. Mielke, who is a triplet, had a sister attend Widener Law.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,000 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free university. Visit the university website,