Presidential Recognition Raises C-N’s Profile
Award Draws Accolades – Bonner Center Director Nicole Saylor (left) and Provost Kina Mallard accepted Carson-Newman’s Presidential Award during ceremonies in Los Angeles Monday. Eduardo Ochoa, assistant secretary for postsecondary education in the Department of Education, presented the award to Mallard.
Carson-Newman’s receipt of the President’s Award for Community Service has been noted by news outlets across the country, including organs as diverse as The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Huffington Post.
“We are of course thrilled by the national recognition that has come with winning the highest recognition on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll,” said Dr. Kina Mallard, C-N provost. “It’s a demonstration that Carson-Newman is fulfilling our mission to produce educated citizens and worldwide servant-leaders. Moreover, it demonstrates that we are fulfilling the great mission of Jesus Christ to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”
Mallard and Dr. Nicole Saylor travelled to Los Angeles to receive the award. Along with representatives from four other honored institutions, Mallard and Saylor celebrated the honor in hands-on fashion with a day of service coordinated by the University of Southern California. The C-N administrators helped package foodstuffs for a homeless shelter while others volunteered for either a Head Start literacy program or to work in a local community garden.
The provost says the presentation at the annual American Council on Education meeting in Los Angeles conference gave her an opportunity to grasp the magnitude of the recognition.
“To win the overall award with a student population of less than 2000 says a lot about Carson-Newman’s commitment to service on a per capita basis. To amass 275,000 hours of service means that many students are giving hundreds of hours of their time. There was no school represented close to us in size. Seattle University has well more than 7000 students and North Carolina State has almost 35,000. That’s great company to be in.”
Mallard said she learned that those connected with the award through the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education “were particularly impressed with the sustainability of C-N service projects.”
While many C-N students are responsible for much of the good fostered by Appalachian Outreach and its subsidiary ministries, other students invest their energies in opportunities afforded to them through Campus Ministries and other service organizations. Additionally, Carson-Newman’s Bonner Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement is central to the difference C-N makes.
In effect a hub with four spokes – the Bonner Scholars Program, BOOST, Community Connections/Service Corp, and Service Learning – the Bonner Center oversees the coordination of some 75 students, who are referred to as service members.
C-N’s Bonner Scholars Program is part of nationwide network of 75 institutions. Program participants seek to advocate for fairness and equality in social and environmental issues, participate as citizens by engaging in public policy and service, build and sustain vibrant communities, explore personal beliefs while respecting the those of others, develop international understanding while respecting diversity.
BOOST (Bonner Out of School Time Program) began in 2009 as an afterschool and summer program for elementary and middle school students to combat educational inequities by providing engaging programming to increase academic performance, enhance character development, and promote college access. The objectives are pursued through homework help, classroom learning time, and being available as a positive influence to the students. The program is offered everyday through the academic year and as an intense six week Summer Reading Program. The effort is a collaboration of C-N, the Bonner Center, and the Jefferson City Housing Authority (JCHA).
Whereas Bonner Scholars serve as liaisons to Jefferson County programs and agencies, Community Connections and Service Corps relate the campus community by mobilizing student volunteers. The result is a host of significant projects that introduce students to the opportunities and benefits of service. The Service Learning component fosters classroom instruction that goes well beyond the four walls of an academic building. SL coordinators are working to standardize such classes, of which there were 65 last year alone.
Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Dr. Eduardo Ochoa presented the award to Mallard. He said C-N, like other honored institutions, “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… I hope we’ll see more and more colleges and universities following their lead.”
Mallard said she was grateful to Saylor and her Bonner Center staff for “pulling together the data that demonstrates the seriousness of our institutional commitment.”
She added, “This sort of recognition glorifies God because we do it for His honor. That’s what Carson-Newman was founded on – to educate solid Christian citizens. And we are continuing to do just that.