|Students Volunteering in the Gulf Coast Region during Spring Break 2006|
Wittenberg and 140 other institutions of higher education were recognized for distinguished service among the nearly 500 schools named to the President’s Honor Roll at the Campus Compact 20th Anniversary. Schools receiving distinguished service recognition provided exceptional community service over the past year, contributing their community members’ time, resources, energy, skills – and intellect – to serve America.
“Wittenberg has set a strong example for college-level civic engagement,” said Stephen Goldsmith, Chief Executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that works to foster a culture of volunteering and service in America. “Many people and communities have been improved because Wittenberg and its students identified some of society’s most pressing needs and got involved.”
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is co-sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA Freedom Corps, and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The recognition is presented in cooperation with Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,000 college and university presidents, and supported by all the major national higher education associations.
“Wittenberg has a long tradition of commitment to service,” Wittenberg University President Mark Erickson said. “This is simply another example of how Wittenberg students are making a real difference in the world.”
The award presentations came a day after the Corporation for National and Community Service released a comprehensive study showing college student civic engagement has risen significantly in recent years. The study, which used data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that student volunteering increased approximately 20 percent from 2002 to 2005, and that 3.3 million college students serve their communities and nation. The study showed that college students between ages 16 to 24 are more likely to volunteer than cohorts in that age group who are not enrolled.
Observers have attributed the growth in student service to several causes: the proliferation of high-school and college service-learning classes; an increase in the number of campus offices that link students to volunteer opportunities, and the lingering impact of the September 11 and Hurricane Katrina catastrophes.
“Wittenberg has actively engaged our students in community service for more than 15 years,” Wittenberg Director of Community Service Kristen Collier said. “We are proud to receive this recognition and believe it is a true reflection of the impact our students have made in serving the community.”
A total of 492 institutions – including private and public schools, four-year institutions, professional schools, and community colleges – were named to the first honor roll. Those schools chronicled a broad variety of service programs and activities that have strengthened neighborhoods around them and in the Gulf region.
As part of “What a Relief,” a national effort organized by Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), 26 Wittenberg students and five staff members joined a 1,100-volunteer contingent representing more than 60 academic institutions in the gulf coast from March 5-10, 2006. One of five universities in the state of Ohio participating in the relief effort, Wittenberg sent students to Biloxi, Miss., one of four designated work sites for the LDR relief effort in Mississippi and Alabama.
An additional 50 Wittenberg students participated in an even larger relief effort through the national organization Campus Crusade for Christ, also in March 2006. Members of the affiliated Wittenberg organization, Primetime, traveled to Pass Christian, Miss., where they joined more than 6,000 college students representing more than 100 universities.
“The 75 Witt students who traveled to the Gulf Coast region to help out over their spring break were amazing – they worked so hard and were deeply touched by the stories they heard and the people they met,” said University Pastor Rachel Tune, who spent part of her own spring break in the region. “Whether our students help out in Nicaragua, South Africa, the Gulf Coast or here in Springfield, they inspire all of us to be more engaged in the world around us.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service improves lives, strengthens communities and fosters civic engagement through service and volunteering. Each year, the corporation provides opportunities for more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America. For more information, go to http://www.nationalservice.gov.
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