Service Initiatives Garner Presidential AwardPosted by admin on 3/24/10 • Categorized as Spring 2010
Community service has long been integral to a Beloit education. Now, that commitment is nationally recognized. In February, Beloit College was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. This award is the highest federal recognition given for college and university volunteer efforts, service-learning projects, and civic engagement.
The award comes to Beloit from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The organization recognized more than 700 colleges, but Beloit was among 115 named to the Distinction List and one of only two honored in Wisconsin.
This recognition is well-deserved. According to Carol Wickersham, director for community-based learning and adjunct instructor of sociology, Beloit students logged 44,183 service hours from June 2008 to June 2009. These hours, which included volunteer service in Beloit and abroad, were one impetus for the award. Beloit also earned its nod for six service projects: the Duffy Community Partnerships program, which pairs students with community organizations; Writing for Citizen Advocacy, which helps non-profits with projects like grant writing; Beloit’s Habitat for Humanity Chapter; college preparation programs Upward Bound and Help Yourself; the Wright Reading Club, a tutoring program at the local Wright Elementary School; and Girls and Women in Science, a College-run science workshop for sixth-grade girls and their teachers.
The award, Wickersham says, is a reflection of the College’s long-standing ethic of service. “This award,” she observes, “recognizes that we walk our talk.”
This recognition complements another way in which Beloit walks its talk: the new Liberal Arts in Practice Center (LAPC). Open since August 2009, the LAPC houses Career Services, the on-campus Americorps VISTA office, and the Office of Community-Based Learning. Though the LAPC’s functions are various, its overall aim is to connect professors and students with community partners. It can help students find an internship, give faculty members resources for community-based learning, or serve as a touch point for organizations looking to partner with the College. In this way, the LAPC helps centralize Beloit’s already strong community efforts.
Though Beloit students practice the liberal arts across the curriculum, Wickersham says that community-based work involves particularly rich opportunities for application. “Communities provide exquisitely complex opportunities for students to practice thinking skills. Students can hone their powers of observation, examine their assumptions, navigate cultural borders, and learn to connect texts and contexts.”