Serving Our Community
USF is named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its work in the community and the region.
Special to USF News
TAMPA, Fla. (April 9, 2012) - The Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education has named the University of South Florida to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll which recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.
Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the initiative celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.
USF was admitted to the Honor Roll for its demonstrated commitment to community outreach and service work. USF Students, faculty, and staff engage in community based scholarship in almost all academic disciplines including, but not limited to, engineering, education, anthropology, urban planning; and participate in volunteer services that involve activities that address pressing community concerns.
In 2011, USF students, faculty, and staff engaged in nearly 50,000 hours of service to the community.
“At USF, we emphasize community engagement and service as an important and meaningful part of our students’ education,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “Universities are at their best when they reach beyond campus boundaries and channel the energy, creativity and knowledge of their students, faculty and staff toward helping the larger community solve its most difficult problems. I am so proud of USF for earning a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes our achievement in reaching one of university’s most important goals: serving the Tampa Bay region.”
One of many examples of service learning at USF includes a partnership between USF Anthropology and The Moses House where students worked with community children to create a youth heritage garden in a low income neighborhood. The aim of this project is to educate youth about the role of fresh nutritious foods in health and wellness, encourage environmental stewardship, and connect with community heritage. This one project generated more than 6,000 hours of community engagement.
Elizabeth Strom, director of USF’s Office of Community Engagement, said: “This recognition demonstrates the commitment of USF faculty, staff and students to our community. We are grateful as well to the many Tampa Bay area organizations who work with us on a regular basis.”
USF’s students and faculty come out en masse for Stampede of Service, which is USF’s largest day of community service. The Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement coordinates this event each year. Through Stampede of Service 2,500 students and faculty served meals to the homeless, repaired local community homes, tutored 200 children, provided repair work for local elementary schools, collected over 1,000 bags of garbage, and worked with Keep Tampa Beautiful to clean 18 local parks.
“At the University of South Florida, students take pride in being civically engaged on a global scale. Hundreds of USF students have dedicated their time during their seasonal breaks to raise awareness of various social issues that affect our world today. Through the journeys these students embark on, they bring hope for a better tomorrow,” Angel Garcia, associate director of CLCE.
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.
“Through service, these institutions are 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.”
“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,” said Eduardo Ochoa, U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education. “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.”
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.