The annual President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is out for 2012, and a number of community colleges made the list this year. This honor roll was originally created to highlight institutions of higher education that make significant contributions to their communities through the efforts of students and staff. The schools that made the grade have proven track records for giving back to the areas where they are located.
About the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll
The website for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) explains that the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll was first launched in 2006 to showcase the “role colleges and universities play in solving community problems” and to get more students started on a “lifelong path of civic engagement.” Originally inspired by the service of college students nationwide after Hurricane Katrina, the honor roll strives to recognize schools that “achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve.”
The honor roll is a collaboration between the CNCS, the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Contact, and the American Council on Education. Finalists are chosen through a series of criteria that include scope and innovation of service projects, the incorporation of service-learning into course curriculum, the commitment of the institution to long-term partnerships with community organizations and the measurable community outcomes as a result of the service projects.
This year's honor roll was announced at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting on March 12, 2012, in Los Angeles, California. The list includes five colleges named as Presidential Awardees, Honor Roll with Distinction, and the Honor Roll members. The Honor Roll consists of 642 colleges and universities, with a number of community colleges across the country included on the prestigious list. Some of these schools have made the honor roll for a number of consistent years, demonstrating their commitment to community service over the long term.
“Through service, these institutions are creating the next generation of leaders by challenging students to tackle tough issues and create positive impacts in the community,” Robert Velasco, Acting CEO of CNCS, stated in a press release on the organization’s website. “We applaud the honor roll schools, their faculty and students for their commitment to make service a priority in and out of the classroom. Together, service and learning increase civic engagement while fostering social innovation among students, empowering them to solve challenges within their communities.”
The Importance of Community Service
CNCS states that millions of students on college campuses across the country are engaging in service projects designed to improve their neighborhoods and communities. Some of the projects that have been launched include:
- Tax preparation and legal services by students in these fields of study
- Rebuilding homes after local natural disasters
- Conducting job training for those who are unemployed
- Offering a range of services to seniors in the community
- Providing meals to needy families
- Building parks in low-income neighborhoods
“Preparing students to participate in our democracy and providing them with opportunities to take on local and global issues in their course work are as central to the mission of education as boosting college completion and closing the achievement gap,” Eduardo Ochoa, the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education, stated in the press release. “The honor roll schools should be proud of their work to elevate the role of service-learning on their campuses. Galvanizing their students to become involved in projects that address pressing concerns and enrich their academic experience has a lasting impact – both in the communities in which they work and on their own sense of purpose as citizens of the world. I hope we’ll see more and more colleges and universities following their lead.”
Northampton Community College Recognized for Community Partnerships
Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania was included on this year’s honor roll due to the partnerships they have formed within their neighborhood. According to the Pocono Record, the school currently has more than 550 students and around 50 faculty members participating in community organizations, including a local soup kitchen, local blood drives and community/school initiatives. The school also organizes the Holiday Hope Chest, a campus project that collects toys for children in need.
Flathead Valley Community College “Honored” by Prestigious Recognition
Flathead Valley Community College in Montana has also been recognized by the CNCS for its commitment to volunteer work and civic engagement. The school logged more than 7,700 service hours by 429 students during the 2010-2011 school year, according to a press release on the college website. Student volunteers participated in a number of service activities, including tax assistance, a toy and food drive, and a crisis hotline. Students in Campus Corps also provided 42,000 service hours through internships, externships and student teaching.
“We are extremely honored to have received this prestigious recognition,” Jane Karas, PhD., president of Flathead Valley Community College stated in the press release. “We are very proud of our students for their commitment to serving our community and to helping those in need.”
Norwalk Community College Provides Assistance in Various Ways
Norwalk Community College is one of just two Connecticut schools to be included on the honor roll this year. Norwalk was recognized for its diverse contributions to the area, including tax preparation services, tutoring services and disaster relief projects. Volunteers from the school have also worked at shelters, food pantries Habitat for Humanity, according to a press release at the Norwalk website.
Community service is going strong at institutions of higher education across the country. The annual honor role is just one way to show those schools that their commitment and hard work do not go unnoticed by the communities they serve.