Kent State University has been named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. Kent State has been named to the honor roll seven times since 2006.
Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the Corporation for National and Community Service has administered the award since 2006 and manages the program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education and Campus Compact.
Engaging in Community Service
Kent State received the honor for several community and experiential learning initiatives, many of which revolved around the themes “Hunger to Healthy” and “Rural Roots.” These initiatives resulted in 10,764 students performing 215,280 hours of service valued at more than $4 million.
“Congratulations to Kent State University, its faculty and students for its commitment to service, both in and out of the classroom,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges.”
“We are thrilled to receive this distinction and award,” said Ann Gosky, senior special assistant in Kent State’s Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement. “It acknowledges the university’s success in developing partnerships in our local community, region and nation. It showcases the work of faculty, staff and students and their dedication to engagement and learning beyond the classroom.”
Learning Beyond the Classroom
The university was recognized for its Campus Kitchen project that recovers food items from cafeterias and events and prepares hot meals to feed the needy in local communities, its nutrition outreach program that provides nutrition education to Portage County residents, the Rural Scholars program that prepares first-generation college-bound students from Columbiana County and neighboring areas for success at a world-class university, and the Career and Community Studies Transition Program that caters to youth with intellectual disabilities and helps them to become independent while developing and refining their career goals.
Other university initiatives that were recognized include the Alternative Spring Break program that exposes students to social justice and cultural issues through direct service, community visits, reflection and a variety of cultural activities; the ProjectGrad/Bridge to Kindergarten program that eases the transition to kindergarten for children in low-income schools; community service projects through the federally funded Upward Bound program; the experiential learning requirement for students that was instituted by the university in fall 2012; and several other community projects.
“Receiving this recognition highlights the significance of having a central office for engagement accessible to members of our university community,” said Tina Kandakai, Ph.D., director of the Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement at Kent State. “Students in particular want to understand how their presence on campus translates to the world around them. Giving them the opportunity to serve the community in meaningful ways can make an indelible mark on their psyche and can become one of the most salient highlights of their college experience.”
Partnering With Our Communities
“This honor demonstrates the importance of faculty members seeing classrooms and labs integrated in partnership with our communities,” said Jeffrey Pellegrino, Ph.D., assistant director for Kent State’s Faculty Professional Development Center. “Students and faculty members literally learn differently – biologically and socially – when engaged in this work, contributing to disciplinary development and intellectual growth.”
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve.
For more information about the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, visit www.nationalservice.gov/about/initiatives/honorroll.asp.