College stays on national service honor roll

For the third straight year, SUNY Oswego earned national recognition on the Presidential Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Oswego’s broad approach to engaging students in community service is one of its selling points. Civic engagement is an important part of the college’s mission, a pillar of the current strategic plan “Engaging Challenge.” SUNY Oswego is also a founding member of the New York Campus Compact, a commitment to civic engagement, student involvement and community service.

SUNY Oswego Provost Susan Coultrap-McQuin praised efforts through the college’s Compass related to service learning, volunteer services and experience-based education, through leaders such as Alyssa Amyotte, Christy Huyhn and Paul Roodin. She also said actions of the Civic Engagement Coalition, spearheaded by Nola Heidlebaugh and by Thad Mantaro last year, are an important component.

“Some students get their foot in the door from academics, such as Nola Heidlebaugh’s COM 490 service learning class,” said Amyotte, coordinator of the Center for Community Service and Service Learning.

The center and other components of the Compass offer internships and academic partnerships, such as a one-credit add-on to students taking Laura Brown’s gerontology class. “By working with our Adopt-a-Grandparent program, they are applying what they learn in a local nursing home while also providing an important service,” Amyotte said.

Students also volunteer for any number of reasons, such as “getting to meet other people in the community and the satisfaction of helping other people,” Amyotte added. “A lot of students say they feel like they get more out of it than they give.”

Opportunities and initiatives are plentiful, ranging from the hundreds of students involved in a community-wide day of wellness and the day of service built into welcoming week to the Alternative Winter Break trip to Jamaica last month and regular Habitat for Humanity activities. Residents of Hart Hall and Johnson Hall have service-learning requirements, and many of the 150 student organizations engage in different types of community service.

The President’s Honor Roll was launched in 2006 to recognize higher education institutions that support innovative, effective and exemplary community service programs. For the most recent (2007-08 academic year) honor roll, 47 New York state colleges and universities were recognized, nearly half of them SUNY institutions.

Selection criteria for the honor roll include scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service and the extent to which the school offers service-learning courses.

The honor roll is a federal program co-sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA Freedom Corps, Campus Compact and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

The list of honored institutions and other information can be found online at www.learnandserve.gov/about/programs/higher_ed_honorroll.asp.

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(Posted: Feb 17, 2009)

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