The Corporation for National and Community Service today named St. Mary’s University one of just six colleges and universities to receive this year’s Presidential Award, recognizing St. Mary’s as a top institution in the nation for volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the annual President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. While St. Mary’s has made the Honor Roll each year since it was launched five years ago, this is the first year the University has reached the highest level of recognition. Some 640 colleges and universities were recognized: 511 were named to the Honor Roll; 114 received the recognition of Honor Roll with Distinction; 11 were identified as Finalists; and six received the Presidential Award, including St. Mary’s.
“This is a testament to the commitment of all St. Mary’s faculty, staff, students, alumni and Marianists to our mission of community service, civic engagement and academic excellence. It is through the efforts of the entire St. Mary’s community that we have received this national acclaim,” said Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D., St. Mary’s president. “This recognizes that the St. Mary’s community is dedicated to putting the St. Mary’s mission into action by coordinating and cooperating with the community around us in a way that improves our campus, our neighbors and our city.”
In its release announcing the awardees, the Corporation said, “Upholding its Catholic and Marianist traditions since 1852, St. Mary’s University has always embraced its educational mission in service to society. The university excels in developing graduates who, inspired by faith, are informed community builders who seek understanding and wisdom for the common good, and who are prepared to lead extraordinary lives.”
The award specifically noted several community service and service learning programs, including the University’s Neighborhood Revitalization Project, which started in 2007 and utilizes volunteers to assist neighborhoods around the campus. St. Mary’s was recognized for efforts to improve infrastructure and streetscapes, create urban pocket-parks, build affordable housing, support a more sustainable business community, and provide resources for residents that cover home ownership, credit counseling, and home repair assistance.
Also noted were the community outreach programs the University champions, including college preparatory programs such as Upward Bound, which pairs young people with mentors to encourage high school graduation and college success, and Stand and Deliver, which provides SAT preparation and mentorship to almost 100 middle school students.
All of these service programs reflect the deep commitment to public service on the part of the entire university community; faculty service is a cultural and institutional expectation, student service requirements are a part of the core curriculum, and students often plan and execute their service work themselves, with assistance from the staff of the offices dedicated to service-learning.