A longstanding commitment to public engagement has once again landed Northern Kentucky University on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. NKU and the other 2013 Honor Roll recipients were announced at the American Council on Education’s 95th Annual Meeting Leading Change earlier this month in Washington, D.C.
Northern has been named to the Honor Roll six times since 2006. Three projects were key to NKU’s receipt of the award this year. One involved an ongoing partnership between NKU nursing students and area hospitals; another involved quick-response relief after the March 2012 tornados; and the third involved incorporating student philanthropy into a dual-credit class taught by an NKU professor at Dixie Heights High School.
“It’s a tribute to a lot of people – students, faculty and community partners – when public engagement works well, as it has in all three of these projects,” said Mark Neikirk, executive director of NKU’s Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement. “There is a direct community benefit but also a direct academic benefit for our students. ‘Win-win’ is a cliché, but it is a cliché that really applies in this case.”
The Honor Roll recognition also celebrates NKU’s overall commitment to service, including over 100 service-learning classes each academic year that partner with area nonprofits. Outside of class, NKU student organizations and students volunteer thousands of hours in the community.
The Corporation for National and Community Service manages the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education and Campus Compact. CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America programs. It also leads President Barack Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
College students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country – a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.
“Across the nation, in the communities in which HUD works, I’ve seen many students who have committed themselves to assisting individuals and strengthening neighborhoods,” said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. “HUD congratulates these institutions and is honored to be part of this effort that recognizes colleges and their students for putting the common good before personal gain.”
This year the corporation admitted 690 colleges and universities to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Here is more about the three projects specifically celebrated by the Honor Roll for 2013:
Northern Kentucky Nursing Research Collaborative
Entering its eighth year, the collaborative is now a well-established partnership between NKU nursing students and area hospitals. An initiative to educate the community about the dangers of lead launched the collaborative. It has grown to include a wider range of health topics and to speed the delivery of information from the research lab to the hospital bedside. Some 400 students have contributed over 6,000 service hours to the collaborative.
NKU tornado relief project
In March 2012, tornadoes swept through our region, causing massive damage in outlying rural communities. NKU students joined the relief effort, collecting staples in bins at the Student Center, helping clean debris from a devastated family farm and raising relief funds for nonprofits. The multi-pronged approach engaged the NKU community and especially its students in addressing a pressing and unexpected need.
Dual-credit student philanthropy
A class taught by NKU Professor Willie Elliott in the spring 2012 semester at Dixie Heights High School gave both high school and college credit to the students as part of an established dual-credit teaching approach. But this class added a component: NKU’s Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project. In these classes, students identify community needs and nonprofit agencies addressing them. With $2,000 provided by donors, the students invested in two nonprofit programs: a school readiness summer program at the Brighton Center and the Women’s Crisis Center’s Green Dot Program, which helps children learn how to handle violent situations with no threat to themselves.