Niagara University has attained the highest federal recognition colleges and universities can receive for community service, service-learning and civic engagement - again.
This marks the ninth straight year Niagara has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The Catholic and Vincentian institution is the only college or university from Western New York to have made the list every year since it was launched in 2006.
The honor roll, established by the Corporation for National and Community Service, annually highlights colleges and universities that achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve.
"We are most grateful for being recognized as an institution that, in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, engages our faculty, staff and students to serve whenever and wherever we are most needed," said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., NU president. "Both on and off campus, Niagarans are utilizing their God-given talents to assist those living on the edges of society."
In addition to being cited in the category of General Community Service, NU also was recognized in education, which highlighted its Niagara County Early Child Care Quality Improvement Project.
Started in 2010, the Niagara QIP enhances the quality of care delivered by child care centers and improves the readiness skills of children entering preschool and kindergarten. It was created in partnership with the United Way of Greater Niagara, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, the Niagara Area Foundation and local business leaders.
"Our collaborative community is honored to receive this recognition as the Niagara QIP clearly represents unprecedented partnerships between the university, business, community agencies and the foundations in our region," said Dr. Debra Colley, dean of NU's College of Education. "The importance of high-quality education from a very young age cannot be understated; this partnership is changing the landscape of child care delivery in Western New York."
Grounded in Niagara's Vincentian heritage, service learning is a core component of the university's undergraduate curriculum. NU students participate in more than 1,000 hours of community service each week during the academic year, an indication of the university's commitment to depicting a measurable impact of its teaching and service mission.
In September 2011, NU established the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. Institute for Civic Engagement as a way of centralizing its numerous service programs, which include Learn and Serve Niagara, ReNU Niagara and Border Community SERVICE.
Niagara is presently engaged in a poverty-focused social entrepreneurship competition that engages students to propose sustainable and impactful ways of addressing hunger and food access in Niagara Falls.
NU is host to the Western New York Service Learning Coalition, a collaboration of regional colleges, universities and community-based organizations. The coalition works to facilitate the participation of area students in service-learning placements with organizations, as well as to strengthen the experience by providing professional development for faculty who integrate service-learning into their course curricula.
College students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country - a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.
CNCS manages the Community Service Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education, Campus Compact and the Interfaith Youth Corps.
"Service and higher education go hand in hand," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. "These schools are inspiring young leaders to roll up their sleeves and work alongside community members to solve problems.
"By recognizing the institutions who are leading the way to achieve meaningful, measurable results for the communities they serve, we also highlight the vital role all colleges and universities play in addressing community challenges and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement."
To view the full list of 2014 President's Honor Roll awardees, see www.nationalservice.gov/documents/main-menu/2014/general-community-service.
For more information on Niagara University's commitment to community service, visit www.niagara.edu/serving-the-community.