Washington, D.C. -- As UMass Dartmouth prepares to honor nearly 2,100 students at its Commencement exercises this weekend, the University has been honored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as a leader among institutions of higher education for its support of volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.
UMass Dartmouth was admitted to the 2010 President ' s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll "with distinction" for its strong institutional commitment to service and compelling campus-community partnerships that produce measurable results for the community. UMass Dartmouth was one of 114 campuses across the country, one of 15 in New England, and one of 7 in Massachusetts receiving the " with distinction " honor. The Corporation for National and Community Service, which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted a total of 641 colleges and universities for their impact on issues ranging from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth. Six campuses received the highest honor, the Presidential Award. A total of 851 institutions applied for the 2010 Honor Roll, a nine percent increase over last year, a sign of the growing interest by colleges and universities in highlighting their efforts to engage students in making a difference in the community.
"As we prepare to honor our students at Commencement this weekend, we are honored that our campus has earned this national recognition for our engagement in the community," UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "Our students, faculty, and staff are distinguished by their willingness to invest their energy, talent and intellect for the good of the SouthCoast and Commonwealth. We strongly believe that the experiences our students have in the community are a valuable source of learning and discovery that prepares them for life beyond the University."
"As members of the class of 2011 cross the stage to pick up their diplomas, more and more will be going into the world with a commitment to public service and the knowledge that they can make a difference in their communities and their own lives through service to others, thanks to the leadership of these institutions," said Patrick A. Corvington, Chief Executive Officer of CNCS. " Congratulations to UMass Dartmouth and its students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities. We salute all the Honor Roll awardees for embracing their civic mission and providing opportunities for their students to tackle tough national challenges through service. "
In the 2009/2010 academic year, 102 faculty members offered 164 service-learning classes. Those classes resulted in 3,378 students being engaged in service-learning and serving 67,560 hours in our community that year. Campus-wide, faculty and students, performed more than 141,000 hours of community service in the surrounding community during the last full academic year, and that number is expected to rise this year. This included 1,561 students performing 74,081 hours of community service.
Projects included a design class redesigning a facility used by People Inc. in Fall River, a non-profit agency which employs gifted adults in a manufacturing operation, an engineering class re-designing traffic patterns and bus routes in New Bedford, a leadership class implementing an "adopt a shoreline" project which has resulted in miles of coastline being cleansed, a business class organizing a fundraiser for the Fall River Children ' s Museum, work study students devoting thousands of hours to tutoring children in New Bedford, and creation of food pantries and community gardens in Fall River middle schools, honors students working with elementary students to improve their reading skills and encourage them to stay in school.
The University ' s Center for Civic Engagement also manages the LEADS Program (Leadership for Educational Attainment Developed Through Service) in collaboration Fall River and New Bedford Public school systems. Funded by a Commonwealth Corp grant from the Massachusetts Governor's office, the program has University students teaching leadership skills to urban middle school students through service learning projects. Middle school students develop a service-learning project that is important to them through research of their community needs. The Center is also the lead organizer of the region's annual Civic Engagement Summit, which brings civic, business, and educational leaders together to forge partnerships to address social issues.
"Our goal is to provide a rich service learning experience for every student who attends UMass Dartmouth, '' said Center for Civic Engagement Director Matthew Roy. " We believe such experiences have highly positive transformative impacts on the students and the people they serve. "
In addition, UMass Dartmouth has invested tens of millions of dollars in major facilities in New Bedford to strengthen the socio-economic fabric of the region. These include the School for Marine Science and Technology and the College of Visual and Performing Arts in New Bedford, and the Advanced Technology Manufacturing Center, a continuing education center, and soon-to-be-built Bio-Manufacturing Center in Fall River. The University is also a major partner in the downtown New Bedford Ocean Explorium, which is designed to excite young people about science.
On campuses across the country, millions of college students are engaged in innovative projects to meet local needs, often using the skills learned in classrooms. In 2009, 3.2 million college students dedicated more than 307 million hours of service to communities across the country, service valued at more than $6.4 billion. Business and law students offer tax preparation and legal services, and college student volunteers provide meals, create parks, rebuild homes after disasters, conduct job training, run senior service programs, and much more.
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a strong partner with the nation ' s colleges and universities in supporting community service and service learning. Last year, CNCS provided more than $215 million in support to institutions of higher education, including grants to operate service programs and the Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for college tuition and student loan repayment. CNCS is a catalyst for service-learning programs nationwide that connect community service with academic curricula. Through these programs, in classes, and in extracurricular activities, college students serve their communities while strengthening their academic and civic skills.
CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school's commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service. For a full list of recipients and descriptions of their service, visit www.NationalService.gov/HonorRoll.
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 . For more information, visit NationalService.gov .