Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. The Service Honor Roll Awardees were announced on The White House Blog on Thursday.
“Congratulations to Hobart and William Smith Colleges and their students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities,” says Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Our nation’s students are a critical part of the equation and vital to our efforts to tackle the most persistent challenges we face. They have achieved impactful results and demonstrated the value of putting knowledge into practice to help renew America through service.”
Launched in 2006 by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Honor Roll recognizes colleges and universities that support innovative, effective and exemplary community service programs. Honorees are selected based on a series of 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 service-learning courses.
“The award recognizes the institutional priority that Hobart and William Smith Colleges place on community service and civic engagement,” says President Mark D. Gearan, the former Director of the Peace Corps who serves as a member of the board of the Corporation and served as past chair of the National Campus Compact. “I am especially appreciative of the hard work and dedication of every student, staff and faculty member who makes service a regular part of their lives. Together, these efforts make a tremendous difference.”
Hobart and William Smith recognize the importance of becoming an engaged leader in the community through several programs. The Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning was established to unite students with the greater Geneva community and provides opportunities to build the skills necessary for active citizenship through a variety of on- and off-campus events throughout the school year and during breaks. In addition, many HWS faculty members build service experiences into their coursework, allowing students to use the local community as a laboratory to test the theories and ideas they’ve learned in class. During the first-year orientation, all incoming students participate in a Day of Service, working alongside fellow students and Geneva community members on a variety of community service projects throughout the local area.
Earlier this year, the Colleges ranked No. 17 in the category of ‘Small Colleges and Universities’ on the Peace Corps’ annual rankings of Peace Corps volunteer-producing schools, with 15 alumni and alumnae currently serving. Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, 183 HWS graduates have joined the Peace Corps. The Colleges also were ranked one of the top colleges in the nation for community service and civic engagement by Washington Monthly in 2009.
The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award, recognized more than 700 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice. College students make a significant contribution to the volunteer sector; in 2009, 3.16 million students performed more than 300 million hours of service, according to the Volunteering in America study released by the Corporation. Each year, the Corporation invests more than $150 million in fostering a culture of service on college campuses through grants awarded by its 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. Each year, the Corporation engages four million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America programs.
Three institutions have been selected by the Corporation to be honored for their service to youth from disadvantaged circumstances. Gearan will serve as the official representative of the Corporation during the fourth annual Presidential Awards ceremony on Monday, March 8 at the American Council on Education conference in Phoenix, Arizona. He will present Emory & Henry College, Raritan Valley Community College and Willamette University with the “Special Focus: Service to Youth from Disadvantaged Circumstances” award.
“I cannot overstate the important role that colleges and universities play in the broader national service movement. These institutions’ commitment to service can have an impact on students throughout their entire lives,” says Corvington.