Wayne State College
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Wayne State Receives National Recognition for Commitment to Service-Learning

Published Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

The Corporation for National and Community Service honored WSC as a leader among institutions of higher education for its support of volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) honored WSC as a leader among institutions of higher education for its support of volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. Wayne State was admitted to the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging its students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.

Service-learning has a long history at Wayne State. Dr. Jean Karlen, professor of sociology, and former WSC President Sheila Stearns initiated the Service-Learning program at the college in 1999. Karlen helped to form the Nebraska Consortium in 2000-2001 which later grew into the Midwest Consortium for Service-Learning in Higher Education (MCSLHE) with 28 members from three states.

In the first academic year of the program, Wayne State had eight faculty members participating; the college had an average of 22 per semester in 2011. From 2005 to 2011, Wayne State had averaged 500 students participating and 20 completed projects per year. As of 2011, 96 WSC faculty members have participated at one time or another in service-learning and one-fourth of the student organizations and clubs regularly participate. In 2011, 996 WSC students completed 11,603 hours of service work.

Wayne State has been in the top five higher education institutions in the state for Learn in Serve participation since 2005, usually coming in at third or fourth. This was the first time the college applied for the President's Honor Roll because until August 2010, the college did not have a full-time service-learning coordinator, which is a requirement for the award.

"Wayne State professors like Pearl Hansen in art, Jason Karsky in criminal justice, Barbara Engebretsen in Health, Human Performance and Sport, Marilyn Mudge and Pam Langlie in education and the community partners they work with are the reason why we have such a successful Service-Learning program," said Lisa Nelson, coordinator of the program. "In many ways, people like me and advisory committee members are the heart of the program, but the faculty and students completing the work are the soul of the program."

"Pearl, Jason and Barbara raised awareness and funds for a particular population while greatly enhancing their students' understanding of the course curriculum. Pearl worked with the Wayne Veterans, Jason with law enforcement and emergency responders and Barbara with campus and community agencies to provide funds and items to Haiti," Nelson said. "Marilyn and Pam also enhanced learning potentials but they also committed to long-standing relationships that affected change. The teachers at the schools they worked with did not have the resources to provide assessments and programming that their students very much needed. Marilyn has worked with the Wakefield school system for a decade providing assessments in literacy and math skills, which saved the school time and financial obligations. That is the kind of commitment that makes it possible to receive an award. The award is given to the institution but it is the people doing the work that earned the award."

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted a total of 641 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth. Of that total, 511 were named to the Honor Roll, 114 received the recognition of Honor Roll with distinction, 11 were identified as finalists, and six received the Presidential Award. Wayne State was one of only eight schools honored in the state of Nebraska.

"As members of the class of 2011 cross the stage to pick up their diplomas, more and more will be going into the world with a commitment to public service and the knowledge that they can make a difference in their communities and their own lives through service to others, thanks to the leadership of these institutions," said Patrick A. Corvington, chief executive officer of CNCS. "Congratulations to Wayne State College and its students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities. We salute all the Honor Roll awardees for embracing their civic mission and providing opportunities for their students to tackle tough national challenges through service."

The Wayne State College Service-Learning program promotes, mobilizes, and supports the efforts of our institution, united in strengthening our academic and co-curricular programs through service-learning in our communities, state and nation. Service-learning also plays an important role in engaging and retaining Wayne State students.

A total of 851 institutions applied for the 2010 Honor Roll, a nine percent increase over last year, a sign of the growing interest by colleges and universities in highlighting their efforts to engage students in making a difference in the community.

On campuses across the country, millions of college students are engaged in innovative projects to meet local needs, often using the skills learned in classrooms. In 2009, 3.2 million college students dedicated more than 307 million hours of service to communities across the country, service valued at more than $6.4 billion.  Business and law students offer tax preparation and legal services, and college student volunteers provide meals, create parks, rebuild homes after disasters, conduct job training, run senior service programs and much more.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a strong partner with the nation's colleges and universities in supporting community service and service-learning. In 2010, CNCS provided more than $215 million in support to institutions of higher education, including grants to operate service programs and the Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for college tuition and student loan repayment. CNCS is a catalyst for service-learning programs nationwide that connect community service with academic curricula. Through these programs, in classes, and in extracurricular activities, college students serve their communities while strengthening their academic and civic skills.

CNCS 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. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection 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 the service. For a full list of recipients and descriptions of their service, visit www.NationalService.gov/HonorRoll.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Barack Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.