May 25, 2011

SIUC earns national honor for volunteerism

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s commitment to volunteerism has drawn national recognition.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced this month that SIUC earned a spot on the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The Honor Roll premiered in 2006 and SIUC has been on the list every year since 2007. The CNCS collaborates with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and The American Council on Education to sponsor the Honor Roll Program, recognizing colleges and universities demonstrating a commitment to volunteerism, service-learning and civic engagement.

“The members of our University community are very deserving of this honor,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “Giving back to our communities is a time-honored tradition, both because we have a responsibility to help our friends and neighbors and because service-learning is such a valuable component of our students’ education.”

The recognition covers the 12-month period from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010. During that time span, more than 3,100 SIUC students donated more than 50,840 hours of their time and energy through a wide variety of Saluki Volunteer Corp projects and initiatives, according to Mythili Rundblad, coordinator of service learning and volunteerism. She said the students also raised more than $62,000 to aid non-for-profit organizations.

Students provided assistance to between 60 and 70 non-profit organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Carbondale Boys and Girls Club, American Cancer Society, Giant City State Park, Carbondale Public Library, American Red Cross and a variety of environmental organizations including Keep Carbondale Beautiful, she said.

In addition, the 10 students in the Land of Lincoln AmeriCorps program at SIUC invested more than 8,000 hours mentoring and tutoring more than 300 children in four school districts, according to Rundblad.

Rundblad said the honor roll recognition is simply the latest proof that Saluki volunteerism is growing and thriving.

“We provide programs that guide and encourage students to learn how to be aware, engaged citizens and develop as citizen-scholars,” she said.

SIUC was among 20 institutions of higher learning in Illinois included on the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

“This honor is a reflection of real and intentional efforts that the University has advanced in promoting service learning and volunteerism. By tying classroom learning to real, out-of-class experiences and rewarding activities outside the classroom that enhance our service to the community, SIU Carbondale is sending a clear message that our graduates are not only well-trained in their specific academic and professional disciplines, but their education has prepared them to be fully engaged global citizens,” said Peter Gitau, associate vice chancellor and dean of students.

Honor roll selection criteria include 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.”