Honoring Jim Walters

October 11, 2021

It is with great sadness that we share with you that our beloved colleague and friend Jim Walters has passed away. Jim served in many roles in our Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic (CCMA) community. Most recently, he served as the Director of Collective Impact and P20 CONNECTS. He also served as a VISTA Supervisor for many years, and walked the walk by being a CCMA VISTA member in his retirement. A never-tiring advocate for experiential education, Jim was instrumental in “putting legs on” CCMA’s P20 CONNECTS and Collective Impact initiatives, advancing equity in the Mid-Atlantic region by increasing college, career, and civic readiness.

Jim advocated incessantly that personal change happens through the experiential learning cycle. All Jim’s work stemmed from an understanding that change begins in individuals, and that connecting experience with reflection is the key to shaping individuals’ view of themselves. Reflection on experience builds our understanding of our own capacity to learn and to act – our capacity to change. In one of the last correspondences between Jim and a coworker, he included this quote to point out the importance of experiential learning: “We read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the author.” -John Keats.

In addition to his influence on CCMA’s work, Jim’s coworkers remember him for his kindness. He regularly checked on others to make sure everything was going well. He was a patient teacher for those of us who knew less than he, and readily took the extra time to explain concepts. He infused his work with experiential learning and was an outstanding collaborator. He will be deeply missed.

Funeral Arrangements

James French Walters V, born March 11, 1949 of Washington, District of Columbia, passed away on Sunday, October 3, 2021, at the age of 72.

  • A visitation for James will be held Monday, October 11, 2021 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Joseph Gawler’s Sons LLC, 5130 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016.
  • A mass of Christian burial will occur Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, 3630 Quesada St NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20015.
  • Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.josephgawlers.com for the Walters family.

Honoring Jim’s Life and Legacy

The Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic community will celebrate Jim’s life and impact virtually through a Zoom gathering, sharing our reflections and memories, on Thursday, Oct. 21st from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Please join us to reflect together on Jim’s life and the impact he had on all of us. Everyone who knew Jim is welcome to join us. Please register here for details.

To honor Jim’s contributions, CCMA will honor him publicly for his leadership and impact on our organization and network. CCMA is also establishing a fund to pay tribute and continue Jim’s legacy in perpetuity. The Walters Fund, which we will begin by setting aside a portion of our reserve funds in his name, will further the work to which Jim was dedicated: learning about learning, reflecting and experiential learning, supporting personal change, developing a growth mind-set, and furthering P20 CONNECTS and Collective Impact. The earnings from this fund will be available each year to support these aspects of our work. Please join us in honoring Jim’s life and legacy by contributing to this ongoing work which he led so passionately. 

Professional Biography

After retiring as Director of Student Life at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus of Montgomery College, Jim dedicated a year of his life to national service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic, then becoming the Director of Collective Impact and P20 CONNECTS for Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic.

Jim was a tenured faculty member in the Performing Arts Department at Montgomery College. Jim served Montgomery College with enthusiasm and dedication for 42 years as a full-time faculty member and retired from the College on June 1, 2014. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from The George Washington University in 1972 and his Master’s in theatre from The Catholic University of America in 1978.

Jim began his career at Montgomery College in 1972. During his employment, he transformed the Office of Student Activities to the Office of Student Life, created the Office of Volunteer and Service Learning, assisted in its collegewide expansion, and served as the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus adviser to the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. He directed and choreographed many shows at the College. Jim received the American College Theatre Festival Award for excellence in collegiate theatre initiatives, and was awarded grants from the National Corporation for National and Community Service. He played a major role in the opening of the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center at the Rockville Campus, where he established the College-Community Use, and managed the Professional Series of Artists, which included notable performers Marcel Marceau, Bobby Short, Stars of the Bolshoi, and the Chinese Opera.

Jim was active in numerous national and local organizations. He served as a board member on the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education, member of the Board of the Gateway-Georgia Avenue Redevelopment Corporation, member of the Silver Spring Transportation Committee, and served as president of the Silver Spring/Kensington Rotary. He also served as president of the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE), presenting, in Dubai and at many universities and colleges across the United States, on the institutionalization and assessment of learning outcomes associated with experiential education. He designed and implemented several programs for students, including the National Campaign to End Unintended Pregnancy. Through Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic, he co-created the Montgomery College/Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Collaborative, an experiential learning partnership and initiative that developed service-learning partnerships between the College and middle and high school students at six middle and high schools. Jim was a gifted mentor, supporting the many VISTA members and students he supervised.

Jim Walters will be remembered as being a dedicated teacher and dynamic educator and for his national, state, and local reputation as scholar and mentor to countless students and organizations. After retiring, Jim founded The Walters Group, providing experiential learning pedagogy and strategies to address competency-based student learning outcomes and continued his dedication to reflection, learning, and change through Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic. Jim was a graduate of St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. and relished time on his boat. He is survived by his wife, Karen, and son, James F. Walters VI.