MACON — Mercer University has earned the highest federal recognition for community engagement, the Corporation for National and Community Service announced today. For the University's exemplary service efforts and service to the community, CNCS named Mercer to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for 2013. Mercer was one of only 113 higher education institutions nationwide named to the President's Honor Roll with Distinction. Mercer and Emory University were the only two institutions in Georgia on the Honor Roll with Distinction.
"Community service has been embedded in Mercer's DNA since the University's founding in 1833. It is a vital part of our mission," said Mercer President William D. Underwood. "It is gratifying to see our students, faculty and staff earn recognition from the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for their work in the communities across Georgia where Mercer has a presence."
Nationwide, only 690 higher education institutions were named to the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Honorees for the award were chosen based on a series of selection factors including 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. Mercer was named to the inaugural honor roll in 2006 for its commitment to community engagement and again in 2008.
"At many institutions, service and service-learning are confined to discrete pockets of activity or departments. Mercer is unusual in that service to communities—locally or globally—infuses all eleven of our colleges and schools," said Dr. Mary-Alice Morgan, senior vice-provost for service-learning. "Service is part of our ethos and identity."
The University's commitment to community engagement is deeply embedded in all aspects and all campuses of the University, including service-learning, volunteering and University-community partnerships. During the 2011-12 academic year, more than half of the University's student body contributed 224,572 hours of community service through service-learning and volunteer activities.
"The President's Honor Roll is an important initiative not just for encouraging volunteerism and service-learning among college students, but for giving students practice in civic engagement — practice that we hope they will take with them past graduation throughout their lives," Dr. Morgan said. "Research in higher education tells us that serving in communities reinforces deep learning, engaged learning in the classroom and helps students learn how to translate their knowledge in ways that are useful and meaningful to the community. In the process, students discover just how much of an impact they can make. They grow, personally and civically."
Mercer's mission to serve the community goes from individual students up through every part of the institution, from the chartering of the School of Medicine to train physicians to serve in rural and underserved areas, to the Law School's Law and Public Service Program. In Macon, the University's Mercer Service Scholars develop as servant leaders through an undergraduate service and leadership program and, sparking movements such as Local Engagement Against Poverty. The university serves the global, as well as local, community. Internationally, the University has become known for the award-winning international service-learning program, Mercer On Mission, as well as Service First, a post baccalaureate program that matches recent graduates with service programs worldwide following graduation.The Honor Roll was inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. CNCS has administered the award since 2006. The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. Through the agency's Segal AmeriCorps Education Award Matching Program, CNCS gives education institutions access to tens of thousands of AmeriCorps alumni with millions of dollars in Segal Education Awards for tuitions and fees. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.