Columbus State Makes National Community Service Honor Roll

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Numerous and various service projects this past year by Columbus State University students, faculty and staff have drawn national recognition — again.

For the third straight year, Columbus State has earned a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for exemplary service efforts and service to America’s communities by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Columbus State University students, from left, Jonathan Pardal, Kristen Smith and Kater Ellerbee were among volunteers who sacrificed their recent spring break to participate in Habitat for Humanity Columbus State joins just seven other Georgia schools among several hundred colleges and universities across the nation in being recognized for their impact in 2009 on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice.

Recognition, however, is not what motivates students, faculty and staff to engage in service activity every year, said CSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Gina Sheeks. “They do so because they care about making a difference in the lives of others.”

Honor roll criteria is based on such factors as 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.

Columbus State’s Center for Career Development, which facilitates faculty, staff and student volunteerism through its annual Volunteer Opportunities Fair and its Cougar Partners at Work and Service Program, reports the university contributed more than 334,284 service hours to the surrounding community in the 2008-2009 academic year. Sixty-three percent (5,073 students) of the student body accounted for 309, 351 of those hours, while 91 percent of the university’s faculty (884 professors) logged 24,392 hours. Non-teaching staff also contributed service time.

About 20 percent of CSU’s community service hours were dedicated to projects preparing disadvantaged youth for graduation and higher education.

A major service project was coordinated with CSU President Tim Mescon’s August 2009 presidential inauguration. Faculty, staff and students participated in a first-of-its-kind CSU Day of Service. The projects involved primarily groundskeeping and landscaping. Sites included East Columbus Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, South Columbus Boys and Girls Club, Easter Seals, House of TIME, North Columbus Boys and Girls Club, Hope Harbour, Mission Columbus, Open Door Clothing Bank and YMCA.national honor roll logo

CSU also engages students in service activity through the Honors and Servant Leadership scholarship programs, Students in these programs develop leadership skills on campus while serving various needs of the off-campus community.

Moreover, the 11-year-old Servant Leadership Program incorporates leadership theory, practice, experiential learning, modeling and mentoring. Each Servant Leadership senior class engages in a major service project. The 2009 class completed interior painting and exterior landscaping at the Azaela Trace home, while taking resident oral histories and publishing them in a book.

Sheeks said it is particularly important for educators to continue to nurture this civic-minded generation. “Students today want their voices heard, and in doing so they are willing to take responsibility for the well-being of their local, national and global communities,” she said. “Students who take part in service not only make their communities stronger, they enhance their education beyond measure.”