In its 2012 Liberal Arts Colleges “College Guide” rankings, Washington Monthly ranked Hobart and William Smith eighth in the nation in the category of community service. The rankings consider colleges’ contributions to the public good, taking into consideration social mobility, research and service.
HWS begins each academic year with service components in the Pre-Orientation Adventure Program, this year working with Habitat for Humanity, and at sites throughout Geneva during Orientation weekend. For the past two years, Convocation speakers have addressed the HWS community about ways they can become involved in improving the lives of children. As a result of an initiative begun following KaBOOM! Founder and CEO Darell Hammond’s address in 2011, the Geneva Lakefront Community Playground was erected this fall. Assistant Professor of Psychology Julie Kingery is bringing the work of Donorschoose.org Founder and this year’s Convocation Speaker Charles Best into her classrooms by having students from two of her courses use the resource to benefit students and school programs across the country.
Beyond Convocation, students have the opportunity to participate in Days of Service, service trips for Alternative Spring Break and summer service experiences. Service-learning courses at the Colleges and Community Based Research Projects enable students to view civic engagement with a wider lense and develop their own service and advocacy initiatives. Of the 81,000 service hours students provided last year, 30,600 were part of an academic program.
“Though direct service is incredibly important, the long term planning and policy awareness and advocacy are an equally important part of the social justice puzzle,” explains Katie Flowers, director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, who notes following Hurricane Sandy, students immediately met to develop a plan to provide some form of relief to those worst impacted.
Additionally, through the Colleges’ Geneva Partnership and Geneva 2020 outreach initiatives, students work regularly with community partners to directly impact the region they call home for four years.
“Community partnerships contribute to the civic development of our students and prepare them to lead lives of consequence,” says Flowers.
Washington Monthly defines service as the institution’s encouragement to students to give something back to their country and ranks colleges in this area based on the number of alums who go on to serve in the Peace Corps and the amount of federal work-study money going to community service (versus non-community service), among other criteria. In the category of number of Peace Corps volunteers, the publication ranked the Colleges’ 44th. The Colleges’ tie to the Peace Corps is strong, with President Mark D. Gearan having served as director of the Peace Corps from 1995 through 1999.
Hobart and William Smith Colleges currently have 12 alums serving overseas as volunteers in Cameroon, Madagascar, Panama, Peru, Romania and Tanzania. They work in areas including education, environment, health and HIV/AIDS, business development and youth development. Since the agency was founded in 1961, 193 HWS alumni and alumnae have served in the Peace Corps.
In explaining their ranking system, Washington Monthly editors note, “Conventional rankings like those published by U.S. News & World Report are designed to show what colleges can do for you. Since 2005, our rankings have posed a different question: What are colleges doing for the country? Higher education, after all, isn’t just important for undergraduates. We all benefit when colleges produce groundbreaking research that drives economic growth, when they offer students from low-income families the path to a better life, and when they shape the character of future leaders.”
This is the latest recognition the Colleges have received for their commitment to civic engagement. HWS have been named in the President’s Higher Educational Community Service Honor Roll and singled out with Distinction – one of only eight colleges in New York State to be named. HWS have also received the Carnegie classification for civic engagement and, earlier this year, were named the Business of the Year by the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
Additionally, Hobart and William Smith have been included in numerous recent guides. The Colleges were listed as No. 60 in the “National Liberal Arts Colleges” category, in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 Best Colleges guidebook this fall. Since 2001, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have moved 16 spots in these rankings. The Princeton Review‘s 2012 edition of “The Best 376 Colleges,” where HWS were named among the country’s best institutions for undergraduate education, and in “The Fiske Guide to Colleges,” as part of the 2013 revised and updated edition. SmartMoney has recognized the outreach and support of its Salisbury Center for Career Services and Professional Development naming Hobart and William Smith as an exceptional investment, listing the Colleges as 10th in its ranking of private “Colleges that Help Grads Get Top Salaries.”