Alfred State has been named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, one of the highest honors a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. The distinction was announced March 4 at the American Council on Education’s 95th Annual Meeting Leading Change in Washington, DC.
“Congratulations to Alfred State, its faculty and students, for its commitment to service, both in and out of the classroom,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). “Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges.”
The CNCS has administered the honor to exemplary colleges and universities since 2006 and manages the program 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 and Campus Compact. CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund, and other programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll honors the nation’s leading higher education institutions and their students, faculty, and staff for their commitment to bettering their communities through service. These are institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.
“We believe in preparing our graduates to be active leaders and participants in an ever changing world,” said Alfred State’s Jonathan Hilsher, director of civic engagement. “We’re honored to receive this prestigious award – and owe much of it to the students themselves. They’re the energy driving our commitment and they’re the ones who make it all happen.”
Alfred State’s commitment to civic engagement is deeply embedded in the college’s unique approach to education through project-based learning experiences. By coupling real-world learning situations with a focus on meaningful civic engagement opportunities, Alfred State students are able to make significant contributions to communities around the world and are frequently among the first to lend their skills and knowledge to those in need, including communities devastated by Super Storm Sandy and Haitian communities recovering from the 2010 earthquake. Last year, more than 2,000 Alfred State students contributed over 46,000 hours of service, civic leadership, and workforce-ready knowledge to communities in need.
Ten freshmen Building Trades students and instructor Jack Jones returned from a week of service in Long Island Feb. 8 where they spent five days helping home owners there prepare to rebuild homes destroyed by Super Storm Sandy last fall.
“This was a rich and rewarding learning experience on many levels,” said Jones. Students worked on four homes which were identified by the New York Annual Conference (NYAC), a mission and relief organization through the United Methodist Church that coordinates volunteers to assist with recovery efforts.
“We were thrilled to have Alfred State students here to help us rebuild,” said NYAC Disaster Response Coordinator Warren Ferry. “Having volunteers who are diligent, open to taking on tough challenges, and who have the skills to use the right safety procedures is a tremendous help. We hope they come back soon!”
The students worked on homes that were between the demolition and reconstruction phase of construction. “This phase of construction is a particularly stressful time for home owners under the best of circumstances,” said Jones, “but the people we were helping had just lost everything. They were very grateful for the work we provided.”
Jones said students were able to see real-world instances of exemplary building work and how certain construction techniques and workmanship helped some structures withstand damage while other methods may have contributed to making structures vulnerable to storm damage.
“Being able to see real examples like this while also experiencing how important safety and quality to the people who live in these buildings was a meaningful experience,” added Jones.
The project was part of the Building Trades lab component and was coordinated by through Alfred State’s Center for Civic Engagement.
Project-based learning is a cornerstone of the Alfred State culture. When students tackle real-world problems, they learn how to think, not what to think. They can also engage in meaningful civic engagement developing solutions to ongoing community challenges.
A recent example took place in Apalachin, NY, from March 11-16. Mark Payne, assistant professor, Fox 40 WICZ.
Standing alone (green shirt):
Christopher Addison, Hamburg
Front, left to right:
Angel Cavanaugh, Whitesville; Cody Madigan, Bath; Kevin Nicoletti, Cochecton; Wayne Carroll, Jr., Bath; Michael Kashdin, Buffalo; and Mark Payne, associate professor, heavy equipment operations, Building Trades Department.