Northwestern College is included on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction in recognition of it strong commitment to volunteerism, service-learning and civic engagement.
Northwestern, honored for the sixth year in a row, is among 110 schools named to the Distinction list. Only four others are from Iowa, while Central College was a Presidential Award finalist.
The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award, recognized a total of 642 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to support for at-risk youth. Honorees were chosen from applicants based on a series of factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes.
According to Seth Currier, Northwestern’s director of service learning, the college’s students provided more than 63,000 hours of service during the 2010–11 academic year.
“Our students serve because they’re following the example set by Jesus,” he says. “As they wrestle with the implications of his call on their lives, they respond to the needs they see at the local, national and global level. It’s inspiring to see their passion and energy for serving others.”
Last year, 561 Northwestern students were engaged in community service, including packaging and delivering food to Orange City residents, building homes for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter; visiting prisoners in detention facilities, and coaching youth football and soccer teams. Over spring break, students taught English to Somalian immigrants, assisted with health clinics, repaired homes and performed other tasks at 13 locations around the world.
In addition, another 590 students were involved in academic service-learning, putting classroom knowledge into practice by helping area agencies and businesses. Nursing majors, for example, completed community health assessments in three counties, while students in the social work department surveyed Orange City residents age 60 and older about services for seniors.
“These opportunities give our students a way to put what they are learning, talking and reading about into action,” says Currier. “They give our students names, faces and real-life experiences that connect with things they are learning in the classroom, hearing in chapel, and discussing with their friends. It’s our hope these experiences will be a catalyst for lives of service after our students graduate.”
Northwestern employs two full-time directors to coordinate the college’s co-curricular community service and its academically based service-learning efforts. The college also hosts and supports an AmeriCorps VISTA position through its partnership with Iowa Campus Compact and has 14 student leaders who help coordinate community service opportunities.
“We applaud the Honor Roll schools, their faculty and students for their commitment to make service a priority in and out of the classroom,” says Robert Velasco, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). “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.”
According to the CNCS, in 2010, 3.1 million college students contributed more than 312 million hours of service to communities around the country—service valued at more than $6.6 billion. Last year the corporation provided more than $200 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.
The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education. More information is available at www.nationalservice.gov/honorroll.