Indiana University of Pennsylvania has been selected for the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts to America’s communities.
The honor roll is produced by the Corporation for National Community Service in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.
“This honor reflects the university's demonstrated commitment to civic engagement, community service and citizenship,” Dr. Tony Atwater, IUP president, said. “This national recognition also demonstrates the significant involvement of IUP's students and faculty members in community service and service-learning activities throughout Indiana County and western Pennsylvania. Community service has a long and impressive history at IUP, and our university community is continuing that grand tradition.”
Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement. Institutions are chosen based on scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.
“This public acknowledgment of the work our students are doing in the areas of volunteerism and service learning is especially satisfying to me,” said Dr. Caleb P.S. Finegan, associate professor of history at IUP and director of IUP’s Citizenship and Civic Engagement Initiative. The Citizenship and Civic Engagement program is designed to promote volunteer opportunities for students, faculty and staff. IUP students offer close to 10,000 hours of community service annually.
Finegan also directs IUP’s Alternative Spring Break program. More than 100 students participate in this program, which offers on-site assistance to communities in need during the university’s spring break. The events are supervised by IUP personnel.
This year, five volunteer opportunities are offered: rebuilding the Cumberland Trail in Tennessee; helping the Southern Animal Rescue Association to rehabilitate abused or abandoned domestic and factory farm animals in Texas; helping hurricane victims to rebuild homes in Florida; renovating a meditation center in Vermont; and rebuilding homes in Texas destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Ike.
“To think, with all the additional pressures students face today—work, school and family—many still recognize the dual benefit of getting involved in civic engagement efforts,” Finegan said. “For one, they get to help others. And secondly, they are able to gain such a broader perspective on what really matters in this world. My most sincere gratitute goes to Alexa Ford, IUP’s AmeriCorps representative, for all the hard work she put into this, preparing the application which garnered this prestigious award.”
Overall, 546 schools were selected as honor roll members.
“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,” Stephen Goldsmith, vice chairman of the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, said in a prepared statement.
“We salute IUP for making community service a campus priority, and thank the millions of college students who are helping to renew America through service to others.”