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Southwestern Recognized for Community Service

Southwestern recognized for innovative and effective community service programs.

Southwestern University is one of only three colleges and universities in Texas that have been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for 2007.

The honor roll program, which was launched in 2006, recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs. It is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the USA Freedom Corps, which was created by President Bush in 2002.

In the first year of the program, Southwestern was named to the Honor Roll along with 15 other colleges and universities in Texas. For 2007, it made the Honor Roll with Distinction, along with just two other universities in Texas - Dallas Baptist University and The University of Texas at Arlington. The new Honor Roll, which was released Feb. 11, covers the 2006-2007 academic year.

Criteria for the Honor Roll with Distinction included scope and innovativeness of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

During the 2006-07 academic year, about 50 percent of Southwestern students participated in some form of community service – significantly higher than the national rate of 30 percent reported by the Corporation for National and Community Service. These students contributed an estimated 18,000 hours of service to the community.

“I think the most persuasive section of our application was the narratives we submitted that gave living examples of student, faculty and staff civic engagement, community-based learning and activism,” said Suzy Pukys, coordinator of volunteer resources and community-based learning.

These examples included:

• The SMArT (Science & Math Achiever Teams) Program, in which Southwestern students partner with 3rd, 4th or 5th grade students at Williams Elementary School in Georgetown to conduct a math and science project;

• Operation Achievement, a mentorship program for 6th through 8th grade students in the Georgetown Independent School District;

• The Theatre for Social Justice project, in which Southwestern students worked with students from Round Rock high schools to perform a play about diversity;

• The Backpack Project, in which Southwestern collaborated with a non-profit agency and local high school students to provide backpacks and school supplies to homeless students in Georgetown; and


• A Psychology Research Methods class that conducted a study of adult attitudes on underage drinking.

Pukys said the increased attention Southwestern received for being in the first group of colleges and universities nationwide to be awarded the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification may have raised the university’s status in this area as well.

For more information on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, visit www.nationalservice.gov.