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ASU receives presidential recognition for community service

March 10, 2010

With more than 10,000 students engaged in community service, Arizona State University has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This is the highest federal recognition a university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service learning and civic engagement.

The award was presented March 8 at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education in Phoenix. The conference schedule also included an hour and a half “conversation” with ASU President Michael Crow on leadership, transformation of higher education, curriculum and new financing models.

Nearly 10,500 ASU students provided almost 400,000 hours of community service during the last academic year, at sites throughout the state. ASU offers 81 courses that integrate community service with academic content, and it also employs a full-time coordinator of community service to organize monthly days of service and other activities.

Some examples:

* Last year students did maintenance work at UMOM New Day Center for the homeless, distributed food and clothing at Phoenix Rescue Mission and painted homes in an inner city Phoenix neighborhood. They spent five days working on the Navajo and Hopi reservations on an alternative spring break, and they performed service at 16 different locations during an ASU Cares event in March.

* In the University Service Learning course, 255 students each spent 100 hours tutoring at-risk children in an after-school literacy program at local community centers in conjunction with Title I schools. Their goal for each child was to increase academic achievement, self-esteem, college-going success and the enjoyment of learning and literacy. ASU students also wrote extensively and applied lessons learned in the community to their coursework.

* ASU law students worked with 750 middle school students in the Junior Law program, using decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court to introduce the children to logical problem solving and law-related decisions. During classroom presentations they also discussed the benefits of goal setting and the requirements for becoming a lawyer.

“At ASU we are committed to making a positive impact in Arizona, the nation and the world,” says Kimberly de los Santos, associate vice president of university initiatives. “What we are most proud of is not only the service-learning and community service hours that earned us this honor, but the invaluable relationships we have with our community partners that enable us to make a difference. ASU is a long-term change agent in Arizona, and this presidential honor is a great motivation to do more.”

College students make a significant contribution to the volunteer sector, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award. In 2009, 3.16 million students performed more than 300 million hours of service. The Corporation recognized more than 700 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice.