The University of Southern Mississippi 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.
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.
“Congratulations to The University of Southern Mississippi 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.”
This marks the second time that Southern Miss has earned the President’s Honor Roll distinction. 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.
“The placement of our university on the President’s Honor Roll involves the work of so many,” said Josh Duplantis, interim assistant director of the Office of Community Service Learning (OCSL) at Southern Miss. “I am excited to see the efforts of our service-learning faculty, our students and community partners recognized for their commitment to Hattiesburg and the surrounding communities.”
College students make a significant contribution to the volunteer service 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.
The Southern Miss OCSL supervised a number of volunteer projects in 2009. Among the more notable:
• As part of Martin Luther King Day activities, conducted a diversity awareness art event at the Hattiesburg Boys and Girls Club. Also started a Community Garden at the Edwards Street Fellowship Center. More than 150 students volunteered on that day.
• Helped organize the first Delta State Exchange in which 10 students traveled to the Mississippi Delta for a three-day service and cultural experience. Delta State, in turn, sent five students to Hattiesburg for service work at the Boys and Girls Club and Hattiesburg Habitat for Humanity.
• Helped recruit walking teams and volunteers as part of the American Heart Association’s Forrest/Lamar Start Heart Walk on the Southern Miss campus.
• Brought 14 students to assist in a Habitat for Humanity build that saw five houses constructed over the course of a weekend in late October.
“I think this honor speaks to the outstanding work that the Office of Community Service Learning does with our students, faculty and community agencies” said Barbara Ross, director of Union & Programs at Southern Miss. “For the past 18 years we have been developing a program that allows our students to become engaged citizens who continue to make our community a better place to live.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Service America programs and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information visit www.nationalservice.org
To see the complete President’s Honor Roll, visit www.nationalservice.gov/honorroll
To learn more about the OCSL at Southern Miss, visit www. www.usm.edu/ocsl/
University of Southern Mississippi students helped build a raised garden bed at the Edwards Street Fellowship Center in Hattiesburg as part of a community service-learning project last year. (Submitted photo)
University of Southern Mississippi students helped with construction of a Hattiesburg Habitat for Humanity home in the Celeste Place Subdivision as part of a community service-learning project last October. (Submitted photo)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.