CSU, Chico News

University Named Again to President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

Date: 03-13-2012

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
Michael Briand
Office of Civic Engagement

For the fifth time in six years, California State University, Chico has been designated a member of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, launched in 2006, annually recognizes institutions of higher education for their commitment to and achievement in community service.

The Honor Roll publicizes the contributions that colleges and their students make to local communities and the nation as a whole. It is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service.

“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.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education, which administer the Honor Roll, identified 642 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth. Campuses named to this year's Honor Roll reported that nearly one million of their students engaged in service learning and more than 1.6 million participated in other forms of community service, volunteering a total of more than 105 million hours estimated to be worth more than $2.2 billion.

Each year, approximately 3,000 CSU, Chico students contribute more than 75,000 volunteer hours, many of those hours administered by CAVE or embedded in more than 30 academic service-learning courses. Their volunteer service has an impact on the community equivalent to more than $1.5 million.

For nearly a half-century, CSU, Chico has been a national leader in college students giving back to and participating in the life of the communities the University serves. Community service is a fundamental element of the University’s identity, and the commitment to service figures prominently in the mission statements of the University as a whole and of academic affairs in particular.

Many students come to CSU, Chico because of its emphasis on community engagement. A recent survey of incoming students found that more than 69 percent expressed a “strong interest” in courses that afford “hands-on” community involvement. Michael Briand, CSU, Chico director of Civic Engagement, said, “We want to build on and even strengthen the desire of students to include community-based experience as part of their academic studies. That kind of experience contributes substantially to preparing students for both their careers and their future community roles. It’s not surprising that research shows that students who participate in service and civic activities are more likely than other students to stay in college, perform well and graduate on time.”

Below are some examples of the way CSU, Chico’s focus on service is integrated into campus activities:

  • CSU, Chico has won repeat national collegiate championships in raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Hospital through the Up ’til Dawn event. In 2010, the University swept the major awards for outstanding fundraising event, overall program, program advisors and fundraising total. The campus has raised more than $1 million for St. Jude’s, reaching that number faster than any other college or university. Almost 2,000 students participate each year in this student-run event.
  • “Blitz Build,” the annual winter service project sponsored by the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management, brings students together with community partners to construct low-cost housing. More than 150 volunteers, most from the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management, contribute to the 100-plus hours it takes to complete the project. In 2010, the CSU, Chico student chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America was honored as the top chapter in the nation and received the National Award for Construction Service Project for building transitional housing for victims of domestic violence.
  • Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) is the chief vehicle by which the University implements its commitment to service, and CAVE is the main reason for CSU, Chico being named to the Honor Roll. Over the 44 years since its founding, CAVE has expanded to include more than 20 programs. CAVE responds both to faculty who wish to teach their students through practical, “real-world” experience and to requests for assistance from community organizations and agencies. Just as often, however, students identify situations that call for action and either take action directly or enlist the aid of others.
  • The University’s recently-approved redesign of General Education emphasizes the importance of active engagement within our various communities to encourage positive change. One of the building-blocks of the redesigned GE is a new model of civic learning, “public sphere pedagogy,” which connects students’ class work to “real-world” efforts occurring in public, places students in conversation with campus and community members around issues of public importance, and strengthens their sense of civic efficacy and personal responsibility.