For the second straight year, Union has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for exemplary service to the local community.
The awards were announced in Washington, D.C. by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The awards will be presented at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting in Phoenix in March and the National Conference of Volunteering and Service Conference in New York City in June.
Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors, including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.
In 2008-09, nearly 1,100 Union students participated in a range of community service projects, representing more than 12,000 hours of service. Volunteers at the Kenney Community Center tutored and read to local children, acted as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and participated in the state Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program (VITA). Since its launch in 2005, the VITA program at Union has secured nearly $2 million in cumulative tax refunds for local residents.
Angela Tatem, Kenney Center director, said being named to the honor roll inspired her group to introduce incoming first-year students to community service at Union as part of a pre-orientation program. For three days in early September, several dozen students helped Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County hang drywall in a new home, and pitched in with Boys and Girls Clubs of Schenectady to spruce up Camp Lovejoy, a retreat for inner city youth.
Other highlights included a new youth boxing and tutoring program called Champions, the first Children’s Health Carnival and the creation of a Habitat for Humanity club. Also, Anthropology of Poverty became a service learning class.
In addition, all sororities and fraternities do community service projects, as do athletic teams, many Theme Houses and clubs.
“Community service is an integral part of the Union experience, and we are honored for the recognition of the work done on a daily basis by our students, staff and faculty,” Tatem said.
The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, federal agency, in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.
To learn more about the award, including a list of all schools recognized, click here.
Last fall, Union was also recognized as a “good neighbor” for its positive contributions to the city of Schenectady. “Saviors of Our Cities: 2009 Survey of College and University Civic Partnerships,” ranked colleges and universities in terms of their economic, social and cultural contributions to the communities surrounding their campuses.
Union was among 100 schools named to the survey’s honor roll. Schools were selected based on 10 criteria, including the institution’s longstanding involvement with its urban community; the real dollars invested through its foundations and annual budgets; the presence felt from payroll, research and purchasing power; and faculty and student involvement in community service.