Six Colleges and Universities Receive Presidential Recognition for Service Programs

Jan 19, 2009

635 Colleges Named to Third Annual Higher Ed Honor Roll

Washington, DC - Six colleges and universities are receiving top honors among 635 institutions of higher learning that were named today to the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The six will be recognized during the American Council on Education Annual Conference in Washington, February 8-9.

“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 Nicola Goren, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Honor Roll. “We salute these universities for making community service a campus priority, and thank the millions of college students who are helping to renew America through service to others.”

“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 Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education.

The Honor Roll, launched in 2006, recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs. The Honor Roll's Presidential Award, given each year to only a handful of institutions, is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.

The colleges and universities were honored in two categories. Three institutions were recognized for the general community service category, which considers the breadth and quality of an institution’s community service, service learning and civic engagement programs.

  • California State University, Fresno: The university’s service activities involved 10,520 students, nearly half of those enrolled, during the 2008 Honor Roll period. The type of service ranged from the Bulldog Pantry, an emergency food pantry organized and operated by Fresno State students, to an international service-learning project where students taught English to over 250 children in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
  • Emory University, Georgia: One of the first schools to receive the Carnegie Foundation's "Engaged Institution" designation, Emory has made major investments in recent years to prepare students to be engaged scholars with the critical thinking skills, hands-on experience and ethical leadership development to make a difference in the world. In 2008, students completed nearly 150,000 hours of service with more than 200 community partners on projects related to poverty, homelessness, distribution of medical services and supplies, chronic disease and environmental conservation throughout Atlanta and beyond.
  • Michigan State University: Begun in 1968 as the Office of Volunteers, MSU’s Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement is the oldest continuously operating service-learning center in the country. Since 2001, the number of students engaging in community service through the center has tripled, reaching 14,551 in 2007-08. More than 360 community nonprofits request and engage with MSU students on an ongoing, annual basis. U.S. News and World Report has recognized the center as a top national program.

Three institutions were selected for their leadership in this year’s special focus area, which was helping youth from disadvantaged circumstances through service programs that lower school dropout rates and prepare students for college.

  • Brookhaven College, Texas: This Hispanic–serving community college works with 26 elementary and middle schools through its Brookhaven Counts and Brookhaven Reads programs, which target students in grades K-9. The majority of these schools have Hispanic populations of over 70%. As a result of this seven year partnership, Brookhaven students have devoted more than 33,000 service hours to improving the reading and math skills of students at the partner schools.
  • Duke University, North Carolina: Duke created an office of Durham and Regional affairs that is committed to a seamless continuum of programming for Durham at-risk youth from pre-K through high school. Duke students act as mentors and tutors and provide academic counseling, as well as everyday advice and companionship. The participating high schools report that 80% of program high school participants graduate and are admitted into a post-secondary institution.
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City: Founded as an urban-serving institution, UMKC provides students with the opportunity to become immersed in community activities, services and programs that directly support the university’s surrounding community. Community services and programming for this year’s Honor Roll application are a representative fraction of programs connecting UMKC to the community in the areas of: community revitalization, health, career exploration, and life-long learning.

For a complete list of colleges and universities named to the third annual honor roll, visit 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. Using Independent Sector’s estimates of the value of volunteer time, college student volunteering was worth more than $5.6 billion last year.

Expanding campus incentives for service is part of a larger initiative to spur higher levels of volunteering by America’s college students. In 2006, the Corporation set a national goal of engaging 5 million college students in service annually by the year 2010 as part of its five-year strategic plan. The agency is working with a coalition of federal agencies, higher education and student associations, and nonprofit organizations to achieve this goal. Each year, the Corporation invests more than $150 million in fostering a culture of service on college campuses through grants awarded by its main programs; the education awards that AmeriCorps members receive at the conclusion of their term of service to pay for college; and through support of training, research, recognition, and other initiatives to spur college service.

The Corporation’s Learn and Serve America program, in particular, is a catalyst for service-learning programs nationwide that connect community service with academic curriculum. Through these programs, in class and in extracurricular activities, college students serve others in their communities while strengthening their academic and civic skills. In addition, service-learning fosters partnerships between colleges and their communities that strengthens communities and meets immediate community needs.

The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and is sponsored by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation and the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.

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