College earns national recognition for Katrina relief, volunteering

blood driveThe SUNY Oswego campus community’s willingness to lend a hand has earned a round of applause through national recognition on the Presidential Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The honor roll responds to President George W. Bush’s call to service by building upon and supporting the civic engagement mission of colleges and universities across the nation, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Web site. The inaugural honor roll placed a special emphasis on service activities responding to Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the Gulf Coast in fall 2005.

In response to that national emergency, the SUNY Oswego campus community quickly took action. Students, faculty and staff mobilized to raise more than $15,000 toward relief efforts and collect many boxes of supplies for those in need. Two Mahar Hall employees and an emeritus professor went to the Gulf Coast to help. Thousands of students organized or participated in a wide variety of fundraisers.

This kind of effort not only benefits the Gulf Coast but also helps make students more aware, engaged and well-rounded individuals, said Dr. Paul Roodin, director of experience-based education at SUNY Oswego.

“I think it’s more than just volunteering,” Roodin explained. “They understand the importance of committing to serve others. I think they learn a lot from it, especially when it’s supported by the college.”

Civic engagement is an important part of the college’s mission, Roodin noted, and studies show that students who become involved have higher grades, are more likely to stay in school and develop a habit of social engagement in the future.

By rallying to support a pressing national concern, “our students recognize something much bigger than themselves,” Roodin said. “For some students, it makes their college experience and their courses much more real.”

Among the 492 colleges honored nationwide, 11 were SUNY campuses. SUNY Chancellor John R. Ryan lauded the hard work, creativity and dedication of everyone who participated.

“Whether it is SUNY students traveling to Mississippi to put up dry walls and paint remodeled homes, or SUNY campuses and surrounding counties developing fundraising partnerships with communities that were damaged by last year’s hurricanes, efforts made by these 11 campuses and others in the country to lend a hand is highly commendable,” Ryan said.

SUNY Oswego is also a founding member of the New York Campus Compact, a commitment to civic engagement, student involvement and community service. Twenty-four of the colleges and universities honored were members of the state’s Campus Compact. In all, 85 percent of those recognized for general service were members of the national Campus Compact coalition.

The honor roll is a new 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 and the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Helping others—SUNY Oswego student Amanda Gorenflo gives blood at an American Red Cross bloodmobile earlier this year, while donor specialist Lindsey Dohrer-Rardley helps. SUNY Oswego recently earned national recognition on the Presidential Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The inaugural honor roll placed a special emphasis on service activities responding to Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the Gulf Coast in 2005. Oswego campus community members raised more than $15,000 for hurricane relief, donated countless supplies and took part in special blood drives and other activities. The college places a regular emphasis on community service and civic engagement.

(Posted: Nov 15, 2006)

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