Ever since the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll was established in 2006, Mary Baldwin University has been among the colleges and universities singled out for their commitment to bettering their communities through community service and service learning.

This year is no different.

honor roll logo

Once again, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the U.S. Department of Education have named Mary Baldwin among the nation’s leading institutions of higher learning for service.

In 2010–11, Mary Baldwin students performed more than 18,000 hours of service in local and international communities. Community engagement efforts such as the social work internship program in Honduras, efforts to bring awareness to local poverty and hunger issues, and student involvement with the City of Staunton in the “Rain It In” campaign helped earn the college a spot on the honor roll.

“Perhaps the most compelling reflection of our institutional commitment to service is the way the entire campus is infused with a focus on service,” said Mary Baldwin Director of Civic Engagement Steve Grande, noting Mary Baldwin “Changemaker” interns who work within the community; students, faculty, and staff who participate in apple gleaning each fall for food banks; and the graduate students who bring Shakespeare to area correctional facilities.

Last spring, Mary Baldwin students in Honduras organized a community celebration, career fair, health fair, and youth mentoring program and carried out a research diagnostic with a community built for people displaced by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Closer to home, students were able to translate a new immersion class on hunger and poverty issues into a full-scale community initiative on addressing food insecurity. And in a partnership with the City of Staunton, students from a range of disciplines helped develop a strategy to reduce storm water pollution in Lewis Creek through the Rain It In campaign, which is scheduled for a public debut in April.

Spencer Center initiative 2012

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. Although Mary Baldwin’s roots in community involvement are deep, establishment of the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement in 2007 bolstered the college’s service commitment.

“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 honor roll was inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.

Nationwide, 642 schools were named to the honor roll. Virginia schools recognized this year included Bridgewater College, The College of William and Mary, University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Tech, among others.