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University of the Cumberlands named to President’s Honor Roll for second year


WILLIAMSBURG, Ky.—University of the Cumberlands has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. This is the second year that Cumberlands has received this honor.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award, recognized more than 700 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice. On campuses across the country, thousands of students joined their faculty to develop innovative programs and projects to meet local needs using the skills gained in their classrooms. Business students served as consultants to budget-strapped nonprofits and businesses, law students volunteered at legal clinics, and dozens of others organized anti-hunger campaigns.

“Congratulations to University of the Cumberlands and its students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities,” said Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Our nation’s students are a critical part of the equation and vital to our efforts to tackle the most persistent challenges we face. They have achieved impactful results and demonstrated the value of putting knowledge into practice to help renew America through service.”

Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

“University of the Cumberlands is honored to be named to the Presidential Honor Roll for the second year in a row, said Dr. Jim Taylor, the school’s president. “One of Cumberlands’ goals is to educate individuals for lives of responsible service and leadership, so we are pleased to receive this national recognition for our students’ exceptional efforts.”

University of the Cumberlands has developed a special service and leadership program that requires a first-semester freshman orientation class called Insights, as well as a class in leadership during the junior year. Each UC student must also complete 40, documented, community service hours in order graduate, and an optional, 160, additional service hours allow graduates to be named Hutton Scholars at Commencement. To fulfill these requirements, students participate in a variety of activities, from volunteering at the local nursing home to helping preserve the environment, as they work to improve the lives of Cumberlands’ neighbors.

Cumberlands is also home to Mountain Outreach a student-led service organization, which, in the last 26 years, has completed a total of 132 homes for area families and individuals, who for financial or health reasons have been unable to provide safe, comfortable, basic housing for themselves. The group also has built wheelchair ramps and provided badly needed home repairs and simple renovations for hundreds of local residents. During recent years, some Insights instructors have integrated their classes into Mountain Outreach’s fall renovation projects. According to Dr. Christopher Leskiw, “I can think of no better way to expose students to UC’s mission than to have them participate in Mountain Outreach and actually model and carry out the mission of serving people in our area.”

Mountain Outreach also conducts two annual Gift Days, which help many families celebrate Christmas, by providing gifts, household and personal necessities, clothing and food. In 2008, more than 100 UC student volunteers, along with other volunteer groups who came to help, participated in the two Gift Day programs.

College students make a significant contribution to the national volunteer sector. In 2009, 3.16 million students performed more than 300 million hours of service, according to the Volunteering in America study released by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Each year, the Corporation invests more than $150 million in fostering a culture of service on college campuses through grants awarded by its programs; the education awards that AmeriCorps members receive at the conclusion of their term of service to pay for college; and through support of training, research, recognition, and other initiatives to spur college service.

The Corporation oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.