Emory received the 2008 Presidential Award for General Community Service yesterday, the highest federal recognition given to colleges and universities for their commitment to community service, service-learning and civic engagement.
Emory was the only private institution among 2008’s winners.
This year’s award honored the top six institutions out of the 635 named to the third annual President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Emory — along with Michigan State University and California State University Fresno — was recognized for the “breadth and quality” of its service programs, according to the website of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Honor Roll.
Three other institutions — Duke University, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Brookhaven College — received Presidential Awards for their work in this year’s special focus area of lowering school dropout rates and preparing students for college.
Only three private institutions have ever received this award, according to Student Government Association President Maria Town, who accepted it on behalf of Emory at the American Council on Education’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. The program began in 2006.
Emory made the Honor Roll in 2006, said Sam Engle (’90C), senior associate director of the Office of University-Community Partnerships (OUCP).
By gathering information on, and writing descriptions of, 10 of Emory’s most prestigious projects for the award application, the OUCP had a crucial hand in returning Emory to the Honor Roll and elevating its status.
The 10 projects highlighted in the application included efforts from students in the College, the Candler School of Theology, the School of Law, the School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health.
“I wish we could have put in the hundreds of projects that go on [at Emory],” Engle said.
Though the application only showcased a few projects, it did include an estimate of 149,590 hours for the total amount of time Emory students devoted to service in 2008.
“There’s always that thought about the Emory bubble,” Engle said of the idea that students do not care about the outside community. “This [award] shows that this is absolutely not true.”
Several University administrators attended the conference along with Town. The Emory delegation consisted of Senior Vice Provost for Community and Diversity Ozzie Harris, Assistant Dean for Campus Life and Director of the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services Donna Wong, Director of OUCP Michael Rich, who is also an associate political science professor, and Engle, as well as Director of Admissions and Recruitment Kara Robinson and Assistant Director of International Affairs and Special Programs Kristin Unzicker, both of Rollins.
Town, who spoke at a reception at the conference, said she learned from the meeting’s discussions about how differently service is viewed and approached at other universities, and has come to appreciate the uniqueness of Emory’s programs.
Town also said that many conference attendees told her that they admired the commitment at Emory to service, particularly from students.
“I can’t tell you how proud I was to be from Emory,” Town said.
— Contact Nina Dutton.