SUU Receives Presidential Community Service Award

Published: March 22, 2010 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Southern Utah University has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

As a first time honor roll recipient, the University logged nearly 42,000 hours of student service, with nearly 7,000 students engaged in community service between July 2008 and June 2009. The recognized service log included service programs, service-learning courses and a variety of co-curricular programs.

Of the recognition, SUU President Michael Benson said, “This latest recognition is yet another indicator that SUU is on a path toward greater differentiation and market excellence. We are all very proud of our students, faculty and staff who have worked diligently to secure this designation. We also hope our surrounding community takes note of the University’s commitment to making a difference in Cedar City and beyond.”

In putting together SUU’s application, Pam Branin, director of SUU’s Service and Learning Center, and Earl Mulderink, faculty coordinator of SUU Civic Engagement, could select just six programs to highlight.

Service projects that garnered particular attention in the appointment of the University to the honor roll were Bread and Soup Nite in conjunction with the HOPE Pantry, coordinated through SUU’s Service and Learning Center; the Cedar City Community Health Clinic, sponsored by the Rural Health Scholars Program at SUU; and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program that runs through SUU’s School of Business.

As one of only a handful of campus-based food pantries nation-wide, the SUU HOPE (Help Our People Eat) Pantry provides essential food and non-food items to students, serving approximately 90 students per month. Participation in the monthly Bread and Soup Nite by student and the local community keeps the pantry stocked with non-perishable food items.

A second recognized service organization is the Cedar City Community Health Clinic, a student-staffed volunteer clinic that serves low-income, uninsured members of Iron County. Here, SUU’s Pre-health students assist professional health care providers in providing medical, dental, mental health and prescription assistance to over 2000 regional residents each year.

Also recognized as an outstanding service project is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Established by the IRS and supported by SUU’s accounting program in the School of Business, VITA assists low-income families in the local community by preparing federal and state income tax returns without charge. Accounting students at the University volunteer to complete nearly 1000 tax returns each year and save the community roughly $112,000 in tax preparation fees.

Other outstanding service programs at SUU include the Hispanic Center for Academic Excellence and the Service and Learning Center Tutoring, After School Sports and Wee Swim programs.

In a congratulatory letter from the Corporation for National and Community Service, CEO Patrick Corvington explained the role the nation’s young adults play in community service: “Our nation’s students are vital to our efforts to tackle the most persistent challenges we face. They have achieved impactful results and demonstrated the value of putting knowledge into practice to help renew America through service.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award, recognizes colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice.

Additional information about the Corporation for National and Community Service and its award recipients is available online.

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