August 04, 2009
This past year, Southern Utah University’s students spent more time in community service than they ever have before, contributing more than 37,000 hours in service to others during the fall 2008 and spring 2009 semesters. What’s more, campus officials anticipate that number will continue to rise over the next few years as service-learning is increasingly emphasized within the core curriculum for every SUU student.
According to President Michael Benson, “At SUU, we are committed to helping students become well-rounded professionals and citizens prepared to responsibly engage within their own communities.” To that end, service-learning has become a key component in the way campus leaders direct SUU’s academic and extracurricular opportunities.
As to unprecedented efforts, this year also marked a record high in employee giving at SUU. Eighty-nine percent of all of SUU’s faculty and staff members donated money back to the University, generating more than $76,000 to support student scholarships, academic programming and student services.
According to SUU Director of Annual Giving Bradley Bishop, based on employee giving, SUU's faculty and staff are some of the most generous in the state. This is just another example of the University's commitment to helping every student succeed and grow at SUU.
Clearly, when it comes to service, the SUU community works hard to broaden its impact and improve opportunity for all. And yesterday, when 32 college students from across the nation rolled into town with bicycles and knapsacks as part of the national Bike and Build program, the T-Birds quickly responded, providing food and shelter for the students as they made their way from Jacksonville, Florida to San Francisco, California.
With accommodations in SUU’s campus housing, the cyclists were most excited about the hot showers and "real beds" waiting for them when they arrived on campus. This is the second consecutive year SUU has hosted Bike and Build’s southern U.S. team, with housing provided by the University’s Housing and Residence Life and meals provided by Chartwells Catering, SUU’s campus food vendor.
By their trip’s end, slated for mid-August, the Bike and Build students will have logged more than 3700 miles and helped communities nationwide improve low-income housing opportunities by raising funds and laboring for Habitat for Humanity.
According to SUU’s Vice President for Student Services Donna Eddleman, such efforts are on-point with the kind of experiences University leaders will continue to create for SUU’s own undergraduate and graduate students.
States Eddleman, “These students represent the potentially life-changing opportunities that can come from the university experience. Though they may not be from SUU, the Bike and Build group is indicative of the kind of service-minded citizens we work to help develop in our own student body.”
And with projects that ranged from playing soccer with pre-teens, keeping local youth positively engaged after school, to spending their spring break laboring to refurbish a Mexican orphanage, SUU’s students are finding new ways to step beyond campus and impact more and more lives year after year.
With a new – and bigger – home for the University’s Service and Learning Center set to open later this month and the second annual large-scale University service project involving the entire incoming freshman class, 2009-10 is on track to once again shatter service-based records.
More importantly, this upcoming school year will see more students engaged in more communities, helping more and more people across the globe. With a mission focused on “community and social responsibility,” in addition to academic excellence and individual attention, SUU’s leaders wouldn’t have it any other way.