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Carson-Newman College Receives Highest Presidential Recognition for Community Service

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C-N Receives Highest Presidential Recognition for Community Service

Washington, D.C. – The Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education awarded Carson-Newman College with the Presidential Award in the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to bettering the community through community service and service learning.

Five higher education institutions, including Carson-Newman, received the Presidential Award, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service. The universities will be honored later today at the annual American Council on Education meeting in Los Angeles. Carson-Newman and North Carolina State University will be lauded for General Community Service, which represents both the scope and quality of an institution’s community service, service-learning, and civic engagement programs.

Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the initiative celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.

“Selfless service is a Carson-Newman value,” said Dr. J. Randall O’Brien, president of Carson-Newman College. “Our mission is to produce educated citizens and worldwide servant-leaders. With or without rankings, with or without recognition, our faculty, staff, and students quietly make a difference in our world every week. I am very proud of Carson-Newman. For the White House to call attention to our service is humbling.”

Carson-Newman’s community service footprint totaled 275,000 service hours in the 2010-2011 academic year. Issues student volunteers focus on include economic development challenges and education-related initiatives. The impact of C-N’s service programs emanate from the Jefferson City campus and reverberate across several East Tennessee counties.

The college’s long-term commitment to Appalachian Outreach, its auxiliary ministry, includes providing support and capacity through volunteers for this robust poverty relief program. Carson-Newman students and faculty helped Appalachian Outreach repair 40 homes, support 150 military families and serve 15,600 meals over the past year. C-N counseling students and faculty implemented alternative programming at a local juvenile justice center, which allowed the center to free up resources and expand the center’s capacity to serve more youth.

“Student service teaches young people how to change the world,” said O’Brien. “One might volunteer to tutor reading skills to area kids and wind up and helping to write a community grant. A weekend volunteer in home repair may become a summer project coordinator and use what she has learned as a student to lead or form an agency here or abroad. Local service is like tossing a pebble in a pool; ripples often reach distant shores.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the Honor Roll, admitted a total of 641 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth.

“Through service, Carson-Newman College is creating the next generation of leaders by challenging students to tackle tough issues and create positive impacts in the community,” said Robert Velasco, acting CEO of CNCS. “We applaud the Honor Roll schools, their faculty and students for their commitment to make service a priority in and out of the classroom. Together, service and learning increase civic engagement while fostering social innovation among students, empowering them to solve challenges within their communities.”

“The goal of the Bonner Center and all of campus is to continue to move from one-time, episodic service to relationships with the surrounding community that result in long-term connections,” said Dr. Nicole Saylor, who directs the Bonner Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement. “Such connections serve the community needs and provide our students opportunities to learn more about the community and apply what they learn in the classroom.

“We want to make C-N resources available to the community because when the community and the College join together, students learn more and serve more. The community also meets more needs and becomes stronger.”

Eduardo Ochoa, the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education was on hand to present the honors.

“Preparing students to participate in our democracy and providing them with opportunities to take on local and global issues in their course work are as central to the mission of education as boosting college completion and closing the achievement gap,” Ochoa said. “The Honor Roll schools should be proud of their work to elevate the role of service-learning on their campuses. Galvanizing their students to become involved in projects that address pressing concerns and enrich their academic experience has a lasting impact – both in the communities in which they work and on their own sense of purpose as citizens of the world. I hope we’ll see more and more colleges and universities following their lead.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a strong partner with the nation’s colleges and universities in supporting community service and service-learning. Last year, CNCS 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. CNCS is a catalyst for service-learning programs nationwide that connect community service with academic curricula. Through these programs, college students serve their communities while strengthening their academic and civic skills.

CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

Recipients of the Presidential Awards were honored in four categories: General Community Service, Early Childhood Education (Miami University, Oxford, Ohio), Promise Neighborhoods Model (Seattle University), and Summer Learning (University of Pennsylvania). A complete list of recipients and descriptions of service is available at www.NationalService.gov/HonorRoll.

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