The Bonner Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) grew out of the University's long, rich history of community involvement. Prior to the creation of the CCE, the University connected to the community in a variety of ways, including through:

As the University entered the 21st century, however, the desire for a more intentional, integrated cross-campus approach to community engagement grew. In August 2002, the Community Relations Task Force called for the creation of a center to coordinate campus-community engagement.

In 2003, Dr. Douglas A. Hicks, associate professor of leadership studies and religion, chaired a faculty committee charged with developing a plan for a center. This plan became reality when, with generous funding from the Bonner Foundation, the Corella and Bertram F. Bonner Center for Civic Engagement launched in August 2004 with Hicks serving as the founding director.

The CCE grew significantly in the years that followed, expanding its network to engage many more students, faculty, and community partners in meaningful civic work and thoughtful dialogue about pressing social issues. 

In fall 2010, Hicks reflected on the evolution of the CCE: "In a few short years the CCE went from an idea in some people's heads to an established part of the campus and community with a dozen full-time staff and a dozen student employees impacting about a 1,000 students in courses annually. That's what makes me proudest."