March 07, 2011

Student volunteerism nationally recognized

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — For the second consecutive year, Saluki volunteerism captured a spot for Southern Illinois University Carbondale on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

"Students, staff and faculty should be as proud of this achievement as we are of them," said Larry H. Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs. "This achievement also helps the University meet the goal of enhanced community service and outreach programs, which are priorities at SIUC and SIU. Students who value community service should consider SIUC's ranking as they make their decision about which college to choose.

"We are very proud of the service that SIUC students have provided, the leadership of the Student Development Office, and particularly Mythili Rundblad who coordinates this program," Dietz added. "We're likewise proud of the cooperation of the academic units and particularly Dr. Jim Allen, who has been a collaborator and supporter of community service and service-learning efforts. Last year, we were the recipient of the Carter Award, which recognized the best community service program in the state, for SIUC's cooperative efforts with the Women's Center in Carbondale. This year, we have again been recognized by being included in the President's Honor Roll."

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes American college and university students for their hard work, dedication, commitment and efforts to solve problems throughout the country.

"This recognizes student initiatives from the highest level," said Rundblad, coordinator of Student Development at SIUC. "The goal of the honor roll is to recognize how much happens on college campuses and show support for it. Higher education does much more than many people are aware of. In my job, I meet every day with students who want to get involved in volunteerism. Many students come in with ideas for helping and others ask for my guidance. For me to see the enthusiasm, the commitment and the energy to do something is very rewarding."

Through Saluki Volunteer Corps and Land of Lincoln AmeriCorps, thousands of SIUC students each semester give countless hours of their time and labor to benefit the entire region. From tutoring and mentoring young students to assisting dozens of charitable organizations and community improvement efforts, University students are right there lending a hand.

"It's terrific that once again SIUC is nationally recognized for its work in service learning," said James S. Allen, director of the University Core Curriculum and professor of history and women's studies. "After the Carter Award for our students' work at the Women's Center, we now have our place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This recognition puts us in very good company in the national Campus Compact."

Rundblad was quick to credit the student volunteers for their efforts and Dietz for his longstanding support of Saluki Volunteer Corps and AmeriCorps, including his efforts to acquire grant funding enabling them to secure the expertise to construct a detailed volunteerism database. She also expressed appreciation to the community organizations for allowing the students to learn the value of volunteerism.

"My parents always taught my siblings and me the importance of a purposeful life and to be civic-minded," Rundblad said. "Now, hopefully, I motivate the students and guide them in some way as they see that. Learning through volunteerism is powerful. It's valuable because they learn in such a different way. Unlike concepts, theories and statistics, which are all important, understanding how to be an engaged citizen comes only through being an involved citizen and experiencing it."

SIUC was among 528 universities and colleges recognized for their students giving to others and the community in 2007. Created in 2006, the President's Honor Roll recognizes institutes of higher learning "that support innovative, effective and exemplary community service programs," according to the announcement during the recent annual meeting of the American Council on Education. The Corporation for National and Community Service handles the Honor Roll program, with sponsorship from the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation, the USA Freedom Corps and the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development. SIUC has earned spots on the list both years it's been in existence, Rundblad notes proudly.