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Mars Hill named to President’s Honor Roll for community service
Mars Hill College has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award, recognized more than 700 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice.
Many of the volunteer and service learning projects at Mars Hill College are coordinated through the LifeWorks Learning Partnership. Lisa Wachtman, Director of LifeWorks, said: “We are so pleased to receive this distinction for our commitment to service. Mars Hill College has a long history of connecting the classroom to the community, giving students the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge as they work with a wide range of community agencies.”
According to Wachtman, LifeWorks staff estimate that well over 200 students at Mars Hill College spent more than 20 hours per semester in ongoing service programs to the community last year. This estimate is in addition to numerous individual student service relationships. This kind of sustained connection with community partners is vital to the educational program at Mars Hill, as well as to the programming available at local agencies like My Sister’s Place, Mountin’ Hopes, and ABCCM, she said.
In addition to these ongoing service commitments, LifeWorks plans larger short-term service projects, such as the Cherokee Heritage Day of service last March. About 30 faculty, staff and students spent the day preparing a garden at Tsali Manor, a community center for native elders and working at the home of Walker Calhoun, one of their most revered elders.
Also during the 2008-09 academic year, Mars Hill introduced its first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. One Saturday in January, almost 30 students and staff from Mars Hill volunteered at Manna Food Bank, A-Hope Homeless Shelter, and Three-Streams Healthcare in Madison and Buncombe counties. This year, the MLK Day of Service at Mars Hill grew to 62 participants, making it the largest voluntary day of service in memory at the college.
“Congratulations to Mars Hill College and its students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities,” said Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “Our nation’s students are a critical part of the equation and vital to our efforts to tackle the most persistent challenges we face. They have achieved impactful results and demonstrated the value of putting knowledge into practice to help renew America through service.”
The Honor Roll includes six colleges and universities that are recognized as Presidential Awardees, with an additional 115 named to the Distinction List and 621 schools named as Honor Roll members. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the 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.
According to the Volunteering in America study released by the Corporation, college students make a significant contribution to the volunteer sector; in 2009, 3.16 million students performed more than 300 million hours of service. Each year, the Corporation invests more than $150 million in fostering a culture of service on college campuses through grants awarded by its programs; the education awards that AmeriCorps members receive at the conclusion of their term of service to pay for college; and through support of training, research, recognition, and other initiatives to spur college service.
The Corporation oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education.