SUU Earns Presidential Commendation for ServiceMarch 28, 2012
Author: Jennifer Burt
The Corporation for National and Community Service, together with the U.S. Department of Education, has included Southern Utah University among the nation’s leading colleges and universities for excellence in community service and service learning as a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
SUU was recognized for its outstanding service record in 2011 which boasted 90,000 hours. This marks the third consecutive year that SUU has been included on the President’s Honor Roll.
Each year, the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education and their students, faculty and staff that reflect values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful contributions in their communities.
In addition to the University's involvement with several national service organizations, some of SUU’s own original programming, such as Service Saturday, received specific acknowledgment.
The service-learning opportunities at SUU that were highlighted as enriching students’ academic experience while also enabling them to serve their communities include:
COLLEGIATE HEALTH SERVICE CORPS
Through a new service-learning program, coordinated with the Collegiate Health Service Corps, 250 students performed 10,437 hours of service, assisting low-income and under-served citizens with health screenings, prescription assistance and other health-related needs.
VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE
SUU’s participation in the annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was also recognized. Established by the IRS, the program helps low-income families in the community prepare federal and state income tax returns, free of charge. 65 SUU students logged over 2,100 hours last year, saving the community an estimated $132,000 in tax preparation fees and helping to recover $1,567,677 in refunds.
Psychology students are also using what they have learned in the classroom to serve others. Professor Steve Barney and his students work with various community agencies to help and support individuals with psychological needs. Using the information they have learned in class, each student must identify and work with someone who suffers from psychological challenges. Service hours are conducted outside of class, on the students’ personal time.
“Through service, these institutions are creating the next generation of leaders by challenging students to tackle tough issues and create positive impacts in the community,” said Robert Velasco, acting CEO of Corporation for National and Community Service. “We applaud the Honor Roll schools, their faculty and students for their commitment to make service a priority, in and out of the classroom. Together, service and learning increase civic engagement while fostering social innovation among students, empowering them to solve challenges within their communities,” Velasco said.
Eduardo Ochoa, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s postsecondary education division, is similarly encouraged by the efforts of Honor Roll schools and their students. “Preparing students to participate in our democracy and providing them with opportunities to take on local and global issues in their course work are as central to the mission of education as boosting college completion and closing the achievement gap,” said Ochoa. “The Honor Roll schools should be proud of their work to elevate the role of service-learning on their campuses.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) 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 Barack Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.