February 9, 2009
St. Mary’s University prides itself on graduating citizens of the world,” said Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D., president of St. Mary’s University. “With more than 70 percent of our students participating in community service and giving more than 70,000 service hours, our students know what it means to give back to the global community.”
Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.
Each semester hundreds of St. Mary’s students participate in the 10 year tradition of “Continuing the Heritage.” The day of service is done on a Saturday and through the help of the St. Mary’s Service Learning Center and the Marianist Leadership Program the students are able to assist local community organizations. Last month for the spring semster’s “Continuing the Heritage” day, between 300-400 students participated putting in more than 1,500 service hours for that one day doing things like cleaning up graffiti to planting in a community garden.
During tax season, more than students also volunteer for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. So far the St. Mary’s VITA program has resulted in returning more than three-quarters of a million dollars in income tax refunds to the neighborhoods adjacent to the St. Mary’s campus in the spring of 2008. This year, more than 200 volunteers (students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members) have signed up to assist with the program.
These are just some of the many community service projects St. Mary’s students get involved in. Accordingly, this is the third year in a row that St. Mary’s has been recognized by the President of the United States’ Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
“In this time of economic distress, we need volunteers more than ever. College students represent an enormous pool of idealism and energy to help tackle some of our toughest challenges,” said Stephen Goldsmith, vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Honor Roll. “We salute St. Mary’s University for making community service a campus priority, and thank the millions of college students who are helping to renew America through service to others.”
Overall, the Corporation honored 546 schools as Honor Roll members. A full list is available at www.nationalservice.gov/honorroll.
The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation, in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is presented during the annual conference of the American Council on Education.
“I offer heartfelt congratulations to those institutions named to the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. College and university students across the country are making a difference in the lives of others every day – as are the institutions that encourage their students to serve others,” said American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad.
Recent studies have underlined the importance of service-learning and volunteering to college students. In 2006, 2.8 million college students gave more than 297 million hours of volunteer service, according to the Corporation’s Volunteering in America 2007 study. Expanding campus incentives for service is part of a larger initiative to spur higher levels of volunteering by America’s college students. The Corporation is working with a coalition of federal agencies, higher education and student associations, and nonprofit organizations to achieve this goal.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. The Corporation administers Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America, a program that supports service-learning in schools, institutions of higher education and community-based organizations. For more information, go to www.nationalservice.gov.