College Wins Two National Service Awards

community serviceIn an affirmation of Saint Mary’s deep commitment to community service, the College has been named for the eighth year in a row to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll—and for the second time, With Distinction. Also, Saint Mary’s was one of 98 colleges and universities, and one of just two Bay Area schools, to make the Oval Office’s Honor Roll for Interfaith Community Service, a new category just added this year to recognize schools that include interfaith engagement as part of community service. The College has been recognized on the Honor Roll each year since its inception in 2006, receiving the With Distinction honor in 2009 and 2014 and our highest designation, Finalist, in 2010.

Saint Mary’s was acknowledged for the more than 47,000 hours of community service that students performed with Bay Area organizations, such as through the eight-week immersion living/learning Micah Summer Fellowship, and for participating in international service-learning courses like traveling to the Brazilian Amazon rainforest to work on community development projects. Launched in 2006, the President’s Honor Roll annually highlights the nation’s leading higher education institutions and their students, faculty and staff for their commitment to improving their communities through service.

“These distinctions showcase our commitment to and achievement in creating educational experiences that benefit not only students, but the communities that they serve,” said Provost Bethami Dobkin. “Few universities can claim this level of excellence in helping students find their vocation.”

Professor Barbara A. McGraw, director of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism, which has promoted interreligious understanding and religiously inclusive policies and practices since 2008 said, “Saint Mary’s College recognizes that, as a Catholic institution, we have a special responsibility to engage religiously diverse people and groups in dialogue and in service to foster peaceful relations at home and around the world. By championing cooperation across boundaries of religious, spiritual and non-faith differences, we serve the common good.”

The College was also one of 361 campuses to receive the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s 2015 Community Engagement Classification, which honors college and universities with an institutional focus on community service. Saint Mary’s community service has been recognized by Carnegie since 2008.

“These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference to communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions,” said John Saltmarsh, director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. Saint Mary’s includes community engagement as one of 12 learning goals in the core curriculum for undergraduates. The College partners with local nonprofits for volunteer and internship opportunities for students, plus offers community engagement experiences as part of January Term.

“The Saint Mary’s community has always espoused service and community engagement as key part of the Lasallian mission. Receiving the Carnegie recognition affirms and validates that community engagement is deeply embedded within the DNA of Saint Mary’s College,” said Marshall Welch, director of the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Social Action, which collaborates with faculty members on academic courses with community-based service-learning. “Students and faculty work with community partners to integrate the head, heart and hands in ways that enhance the academic experience within the Lasallian mission to empower and serve others.”