Southeastern named to national honor roll for community service
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University has been named to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, nationally recognizing the institution as a leader for its support of volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which has administered the honor roll since 2006, admitted a total of 641 colleges and universities for their impact on issues ranging from literacy efforts and neighborhood vitalization to supporting at-risk youth. CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America programs.
“We are extremely proud of this national honor,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain. “The concept of service to others has long been a core value at the university. Whether it is tutoring at-risk children, providing healthcare services to citizens following Hurricane Katrina or rebuilding our damaged marshlands, Southeastern enthusiastically embraces the philosophy of giving back to our communities. It’s a value we try to instill in all our students and student organizations.”
Honorees were selected on a series of factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships and measurable community outcomes as a result of service.
“Service is incorporated into the culture at Southeastern,” said Tena Golding, director of the Center for Faculty Excellence who oversees service-learning courses and projects on campus. “Our commitment to service is strong – not only for our students, but for faculty and staff as well. In addition to providing leadership for the various service activities by students in more than 120 Greek and other student organizations, faculty and staff are often directly involved in the actual service.”
Golding emphasized that service is also incorporated into academic courses. In 2009-10, 51 service-learning activities were incorporated into courses with over 1,200 students logging more than 16,000 hours. In service-learning courses, she explained, students take lessons learned in the classroom and apply them to real-life situations in the community. She said this provides a deeper understanding of the course content and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.
“Our students are also involved in raising funds for area non-profits,” she added, “and the impact is significant. The Greek organizations alone performed10,465 service hours and raised a total of $34,239 that was donated to non-profit organizations in the 2009-10 academic year.”
In its application for the honor roll honor, Golding said Southeastern documented that more than 3,280 students provided approximately 110,330 hours of volunteer service, activities valued at more than $2.3 million to help meet various needs in the region. Faculty and staff were recognized by the United Way of the Greater New Orleans Area as having one of the largest number of employee donors. And the university’s Small Business Development Center was awarded the state’s “Big Deal Award” for its comprehensive retail study of the Hammond area that served as a critical marketing tool in recruiting major new retailers to the city.
Among the Southeastern service projects profiled in the application were:
--Project Lion Pride – After four Southeastern students were killed in a drunk-driving accident, the campus and community members formed Project Lion Pride, a program funded by the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to educate fellow students and area high school students about alcohol-related issues. A student-led task force, Peer Educators Educating Peers at Southeastern (PEEPS) provided more than 25 presentations designed to promote healthy decision making, designation of a safe driver, and alternatives to weekend drinking. The activities reached more than 9,500 students, all of whom indicated they would be less likely to drink and drive after participating in the program.
-- After School Achievement Program (ASAP) – ASAP combats the impact of poverty on low school performance by using the talents of teacher candidates enrolled in a math course to provide an after school support program for at-risk children in grades 1-6 who need assistance in math. Co-sponsored with the Tangipahoa Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council and JC Penney, the program was funded by Learn & Serve America through Kentucky and Louisiana Campus Compacts, the University of Louisiana System, the Louisiana Department of Education and JC Penney. The eight-week program, conducted in the fall and spring, has aided 127 children through the work of 92 teacher candidates.
-- Drive Safer, Text Later – Recognizing that texting while driving is equivalent to driving with an .08 blood alcohol level, senior nursing students conducted a community outreach course with an area high school to increase students’ awareness of dangers associated with texting and driving. The program included tests conducted before and after the program, which included presentations by a state trooper, the nursing students, and a personal testimonial from an individual whose niece had been killed in an accident while texting and driving. The nursing students obtained free advertising on the issue from a local billboard company and garnered considerable publicity in newspapers and area television stations.
Southeastern is one of only two institutions in the University of Louisiana System to be placed on this year’s honor roll, the other being Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Five other colleges or universities in the state also received the honor: Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, Dillard University and Tulane University in New Orleans, LSU and Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge.
The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education.