USD honored nationally for community service, service-learning

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota received presidential recognition for extraordinary community service contributions in the second annual 2007 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

At the annual meeting of the American Council on Education last month, it was announced that USD was one of 528 colleges and universities nationwide recognized for instituting an exemplary service-learning program on campus. The U’s Center for Academic Engagement says the honor is a reflection of the hard work and dedication put forth by the students and faculty who have made this a success at The U.

Each academic year, more than 800 students participate in service-learning activities through academic classes, including the Interdisciplinary Education and Action (IdEA) Program, the First-Year Experience and individual courses, and through programs such as the Alternative Week of Off-campus Learning (AWOL) alternative spring break program. An additional 400 students participate in community service activities through SERVE or other campus organizations. All together, USD students are contributing more than 25,000 hours of service to community engagement projects annually.

"This recognition is well deserved by the students, faculty and staff who have committed to providing valuable service to the local communities through campus organization involvement and also by developing community connections through academic courses," stated Lynn Rognstad, associate vice president for academic affairs. "To be recognized nationally is a great honor for our institution."

Launched in 2006, the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs. The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, through the organization’s Learn and Serve America program, and is sponsored by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, the USA Freedom Corps, and the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development.

"There is no question that the universities and colleges who have made an effort to participate and win the Honor Roll award are themselves being rewarded," said David Ward, president of the American Council on Education. "Earning this distinction is not easy. But now each of these schools will be able to wear this award like a badge of honor."

Honorees for the various award levels were selected based on a series of factors, including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service and the extent to which the school offers service-learning courses. The complete honor roll as well as special achievement award winners from the annual meeting can be found at www.learnandserve.gov/pdf/2008_honorroll_full.pdf.