posted January 5, 2011

Hope Honored Nationally for Community Engagement

Hope College has received national recognition for exemplary service-learning as one of only 115 colleges and universities across the country named to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's "2010 Community Engagement Classification" on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

The college's dean of students, who coordinated Hope's application for the recognition, said that he especially appreciates the selection because it affirms the way that community engagement and service is expressed as a core value at Hope.  Even though educating students "for lives of leadership and service in a global society" is part of the college's mission statement, he noted that it happens through the efforts of hundreds of individuals--students, faculty and members of the staff - who choose to come together in multiple ways to make a difference, whether tutoring area children, raising funds for the American Cancer Society or helping provide a village in Africa with clean water.

"Hope College being the recipient of the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification is an authentic reflection of the college's commitment to service to others," said Dr. Richard Frost, vice president of student development and dean of students at Hope.

"It's a commitment that is reflected strongly in the academic community, the mission of Campus Ministries and the co-curricular energy of student organizations," he said.  "What's most heartening and unique is that this does not emanate from a place of centrality, but from our own hearts and Christian convictions that call us to serve one another."

The Carnegie Foundation's listing highlights colleges and universities that demonstrate excellent community engagement locally or beyond, showing alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.  First offered in 2006, the classification enables the foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.

"Through a classification that acknowledges significant commitment to and demonstration of community engagement, the Foundation encourages colleges and universities to become more deeply engaged, to improve teaching and learning and to generate socially responsive knowledge to benefit communities," said Carnegie President Anthony Bryk.  "We are very pleased with the movement we are seeing in this direction."

Participation in the classification is elective, based on applications submitted by the colleges and universities describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community.  Of the institutions that the foundation invited to apply this year, 305 registered to receive the application and 154 applied.  The 115 that were selected include 66 public institutions and 49 private institutions across 34 states.  Hope is one of 25 baccalaureate colleges selected this year, and one of four institutions from Michigan on the 2010 list.

The foundation has named a total of 311 institutions to the classification since the program debuted in 2006.  Additional information about the Community Engagement Classification program can be found on the Carnegie website, www.carnegiefoundation.org

Service and outreach activities originated at Hope take place across the nation and abroad as well as locally, and include initiatives connected to course-work, coordinated by Hope offices and departments, and initiated by students as volunteer efforts.  Among other examples:

° Fourth-semester Spanish students volunteer as ESL teachers working with area adults through a program coordinated with Latin Americans United for Progress, writing essays about their experience to connect their service to their own learning.

° The Center for Faithful Leadership, an academic program, involves students in coursework other activities that have included providing consulting services for area organizations and teaching leadership principles to high school students.

° The Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program and TRIO Hope College Upward Bound program work with the area schools in providing tutoring and other activities for elementary-age children and high school students, with Hope students serving as tutors.

° Hundreds of students work together to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society through the Relay for Life each fall and for Helen DeVos Children's Hospital through the Dance Marathon each spring.

° Students travel throughout the country and to Central America and the Caribbean through spring break mission trips coordinated by the Campus Ministries program.

° The college's chapter of Engineers Without Borders and faculty and students in the department of nursing have traveled to Africa multiple times for a project focused on water quality and community health in Nkuv, Cameroon.

° Individuals and student organizations find numerous other ways to serve and connect as well, from mentoring children one-on-one to cleaning area beaches.

A variety of the efforts at Hope have received recognition through the years.  The college's "Time to Serve" program - which involves freshmen in service projects early in their first semester to help introduce them to needs and opportunities in the community--received a 2001 Distinguished Service Award from Keep Michigan Beautiful Inc.  The Nkuv, Cameroon, project was named one of four finalists for Michigan's 2008 Carter Partnership Award.  This past June, CASA received the statewide "Outstanding Mentoring Program Award" in the 2010 Governor's Service Award program.  Hope's chapter of the Mortar Board college honor society consistently receives multiple "Project Excellence Awards" each year for its service projects, and in July received the national organization's highest honor for exemplifying the society's ideals of scholarship, leadership and service in the most outstanding manner.