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Rockford College named to presidential honor roll for community service

Monday, February 09, 2009  
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For immediate release – 2/9/09
Contact: Chuck Brown, Communications – 815-226-3374

The Corporation for National and Community Service honored Rockford College today with a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for exemplary service efforts and service to America’s communities.  

“This is truly an honor for Rockford College and underscores our commitment to civic engagement,” says Robert L. Head, college president. “The college has a long history of not only providing students with an outstanding education but also teaching them how to be good citizens.”   

Rockford College was in the second tier of colleges added to the honor roll with distinction, joining only 82 other colleges around the U.S. Only one other college in Illinois—DePaul University—was also included in the second tier along with Marquette University and UW-Eau Claire in Wisconsin. Six colleges were named for top honors (none in Illinois or Wisconsin), and some 546 were in the lower or third tier. 

Launched in 2006, the Community Service Honor Roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service-learning and civic engagement. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection 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 academic service-learning courses.

Among the projects submitted by the college for the award were “The Plunge,” a day-long event in which 75 students, faculty and staff did work at eight area nonprofit agencies; an ongoing outreach effort to homeless clients at the Rockford Rescue Mission and other agencies serving the homeless; and the Alan Hutchcroft Alternative Spring Break in which almost 50 students, staff, and alumni built homes for Habitat for Humanity in Starkville, Miss. Altogether, some 320 students at the 1,200-student college devoted 6,700 hours to volunteer activities on behalf of 20 non-profit agencies in 2008.  

In addition to the volunteer efforts, the college is active in making service a part of coursework. Some 50 courses have incorporated some community-based learning as part of the curriculum.  Students have been involved in everything from volunteering at a drop-in center for the mentally ill as part of a psychological disorders class to tutoring fifth graders in an economically depressed area of Rockford as part of a rhetoric class.  

“We’re obviously proud of this achievement because community involvement and civic engagement is at the heart of everything we do,” says Lindsay Kent, coordinator of the college’s Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement, which serves as a clearinghouse for campus volunteer activities.  

The Honor Roll is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is presented during the annual conference of the American Council on Education. 

“In this time of economic distress, we need volunteers more than ever,” says Stephen Goldsmith, vice chair of the board of directors of the corporation. “College students represent an enormous pool of idealism and energy to help tackle some of our toughest challenges. We salute Rockford College for making community service a campus priority, and thank the students who are helping to renew America through service to others.”

Recent studies have underlined the importance of service-learning and volunteering to college students. In 2006, 2.8 million college students gave more than 297 million hours of volunteer service, according to the corporation’s “Volunteering in America 2007” study. Expanding campus incentives for service is part of a larger initiative to spur higher levels of volunteering by America’s college students. The corporation is working with a coalition of federal agencies, higher education and student associations, and nonprofit organizations to achieve this goal.

To see a complete list of the honorees, go to www.nationalservice.gov/honorroll. For more on Rockford College, see www.rockford.edu.

       
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