Community Service Recognized with Second Year on Honor Roll

Posted on 2/26/2010 1:14:19 PM

Indiana University of Pennsylvania has been selected, for the second consecutive year, for the 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.

“I am very pleased that IUP has been selected for the second consecutive year for this prestigious honor,” Dr. Tony Atwater, IUP president, said.

“This national recognition reflects the university’s demonstrated commitment to civic engagement, community service, and citizenship and 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.

“I also want to salute the efforts of the Center for Civic Engagement and Student Leadership, the Career Development Center, and the Office of Service Learning for the important role that these offices play in promoting civic engagement and service learning for our community.”

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.

“The continued acknowledgment of the work our students are doing in the areas of volunteerism and service learning is especially satisfying to me,” Dr. Caleb P.S. Finegan, associate professor in the History Department and director of IUP’s Citizenship and Civic Engagement Initiative, said.

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.

“Personally, I would like to recognize Vanessa Gregorakis from the Office of Service Learning, based in the Career Development Center, who did the lion’s share of the work to complete IUP’s application for this award,” Finegan said.

Finegan also directs IUP’s Alternative Spring Break program. ASB at IUP is a student-run community service organization whose mission is to promote critical thinking, social action, and continued community involvement by combining education and direct service on the local, regional, and national levels. It consists of an intensive weeklong service experience in addition to pre-break training and post-break activities.

This year, 134 students are participating in service projects organized for Alternative Spring Break—the most students involved since the program’s inception at IUP in 2002.

Seven projects are offered this year, including the following:

  • Building new hiking trails in eastern Tennessee
  • Volunteering with the Society for Recovery and Adoption in Seguin, Texas, to help rehabilitate abused or abandoned domestic and factory farm animals
  • Rebuilding homes for victims of hurricanes in the Gulf region
  • Volunteering at Karme Choling, America’s oldest meditation center, in northern Vermont
  • Participating in a cutting-edge program in Arkansas designed to help students learn about intentional leadership while living in the wilderness

The events are supervised by IUP personnel.

In 2009, 3.16 million students performed more than three-hundred-million hours of service, according to the Volunteering in America study released by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.