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Oklahoma City University Honored for Community Service

Oklahoma City University has been named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The annual recognition program recognizes schools that show a commitment to service and volunteering.

The honor roll is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and is co-sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development.

“I am proud of our students, faculty, staff and alumni for excelling in a number of community service endeavors,” said OCU President Robert Henry. “Service learning and civic engagement are key focuses for Oklahoma City University. The organization commended us for playing a critical role in increasing the effectiveness of individuals, organizations, and communities and demonstrating that service is a crucial tool for addressing the challenges our nation faces.”

“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.”

All OCU undergraduates are required to complete at least one service-learning course. Since its inception in the Spring 2002 semester, the service-learning program has offered 204 courses through 24 departments.

One course example at OCU is an honors composition class, where students collaborate with the Oklahoma City National Bombing Memorial curators, survivors and others directly affected by the bombing to research and create digital museum exhibits. The exhibits are displayed in the “Virtual Archives” kiosk in the museum and in teaching packets distributed to elementary schools nationwide.

Applicants for the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll are evaluated in two categories — Special Focus and General Community Service. 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.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted a total of 642 schools for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth.

According to CNCS, millions of college students on colleges across the country are engaged in innovative projects to meet local needs, often using the skills learned in classrooms. In 2010, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 312 million hours of service to communities across the country, service valued at more than $6.6 billion.

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.

 “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, the 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.”