One of five pillars in Oswego’s Sesquicentennial Plan
Oswego's emphasis on connecting learning and scholarship with the needs of the world in which the college operates marked a milestone in January 2011 when the Carnegie Foundation awarded the institution a prestigious Community Engagement Classification. The designation signifies that the college has deeply intertwined community engagement in its planning, curriculum and community partnerships.
The college's high level of engagement in the form of service was further validated a few months later. Named consistently to the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since the list's inception in 2006, SUNY Oswego earned the designation "with Distinction" inHar 2011.
From classroom learning to research to volunteering time, talent and facilities, our students and faculty members find ways to connect with those around them in meaningful ways that make a difference.
Learning that benefits
Faculty and student research and academic projects aim for results that sometimes directly benefit the local community. For example:
- Groundbreaking meteorology research into lake-effect snowstorms is helping to determine the structure of storms that often pummel the Oswego area and threaten health and safety. With the loan of a radar-equipped vehicle, professor Scott Steiger and several meteorology students witnessed never-before-seen phenomena, collected unique data and spoke about it in the community.
- Oswego biologists and their students study the endangered bog turtle and gather data that can help preserve sensitive wetland habitats across the Lake Ontario coastal plain.
- Graduate students in education tackled the topic of school bullying and shared strategies that teachers have found successful in controlling it.
- A class culminated its study of ethnocultural aspects of trauma response with a visit to Haiti to witness that society's ongoing recovery from the 2010 earthquake and to offer mental health training.
- A new course that shows English majors where words can take them puts their talents to use helping nonprofit agencies produce policy manuals, online tutorials and marketing materials.
- A computer science professor and students have helped create digital maps of Oswego's Harborfest, helping to organize one of the region's largest summer festivals.
- The 2011 Sustainability Fair, part of the college's annual Quest symposium for faculty, staff and students, brought members of the community to campus to learn about technologies and practices that can make their lives and homes greener.
Volunteering around the world
- Dozens of Oswego students working through the college's Center for Service Learning and Community Service aided Operation Southern Comfort in New Orleans and worked in rural communities in West Virginia and Jamaica during winter break in January 2011.
- A big component of being an Oswego student-athlete is serving the local community, raising funds to fight childhood cancer and other diseases, to support the United Way of Oswego County and to provide disaster aid around the world as well as undertaking local service projects.
- Students reached out to aid Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. One raised funds by making paper cranes. A recent graduate kept his agreement to begin a job teaching English there, just 10 days after the natural disaster. "It was something that I really wanted to do," Ben Hurst said. "There's such a need for support here."
- An effort spearheaded by Kamal Mohamed, a professor of biological sciences and a Sudanese native, helped fill the library at Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology in South Sudan.
- Oswego is launching the SUNY system's first multiple-major co-op program, which can place students into full-time paying jobs in their areas of interest for up to six months. Participating Oswego students will take theory into the workplace, helping regional companies such as Welch Allyn and Novelis on substantial projects.
- Campus-community-alumni interaction is crucial to Oswego's School of Business. At its 2010 alumni symposium, 10 accomplished professionals returned to campus to interact with students and faculty. Accounting students run a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program each year, and other business students partner with a local bank to offer financial literacy classes for the community. "It's that culture of engagement that is passed on from one class year of students to another," Dean Richard Skolnik said.
- Oswego is an educational leader in increasing the flow of scientific skills and innovation into the business-industry arena in New York state as coordinator of SUNY's Professional Science Master's Program.
Partnering with schools
Oswego's School of Education has myriad partnerships with schools in New York state and also with school systems in other countries, and Oswego's other academic units also reach out to counterparts in elementary and secondary education. Among many projects in 2010-11 were:
- New Visions, a partnership of SUNY Oswego and the Oswego County Board of Cooperative Educational Services, has helped scores of high school students prepare for the college world.
- A group of local and national educators shared their insights in a public discussion on using culturally relevant teaching to help students learn.
- The GENIUS Olympiad invited high school students from around the world to compete in science and art. The students prepared research projects and artwork on environmental issues, and the best shared their work during a week in Oswego.