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Miami receives highest Presidential Award for community service

03/11/2012

Chelsea Clark, Miami '11, participated in the Urban Teaching Cohort. She is now teaching in Cincinnati Public Schools.
Miami University is one of only five recipients out of 641 eligible schools in the nation to receive the Presidential Award in the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Miami's honor recognizes service programs in the area of early childhood education.

Honorees were recognized March 12 at a special conference of the American Council on Education held in Los Angeles, Calif., for service in the July 2010-June 2011 academic year. Miami estimates 12,920 Miami students performed 387,600 hours of service in many areas in those 12 months.

The award is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. It is given by the U. S. Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency.

“Service learning combines essential elements of a strong university experience. When university students become aware that their knowledge and their experiences can be shared for the greater good, they take an important step toward becoming leaders. At Miami, our faculty are very actively engaged in broader communities, so that they naturally share their passion for making a difference with their students,” said Miami President David Hodge, “In turn, service learning provides significant innovative educational opportunities that stretch our students to think critically and innovatively.”

Miami commits staff and financial resources to support numerous community-identified initiatives. Among them, the university now offers more than 75 service learning (SL)-designated courses/sections across all academic divisions. A $50 fee paid by students enrolled in service-learning courses coordinated through the Office of Community Engagement and Service (OCES), generates another $50,000 annually to support community engagement.

Among university centers of service are the Wilks Leadership Institute housed in student affairs, The Center for Community Engagement (organized by architecture faculty in the School of Fine Arts) in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood, The Partnership Office in the School of Education, Health and Society and the Center for Social Entrepreneurship in the Farmer School of Business.

“Preparing students to participate in our democracy and providing them with opportunities to take on local and global issues in their course work are as central to the mission of education as boosting college completion and closing the achievement gap,” said Eduardo Ochoa, the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education. “The Honor Roll schools should be proud of their work to elevate the role of service-learning on their campuses.”

The OCES hosts Faculty Learning Communities, supports 41 student-led service organizations and has developed web-based faculty training for service-learning course redesign. Some service-learning opportunities are residential or globally based. Record numbers of students say they have been transformed by the work they are doing connecting community and classroom learning.

Among Miami’s large programs serving children are:
  • The Talawanda-Miami Partnership, in which 1,900 Miami students from all academic divisions gave 9,000 hours and 75 faculty gave 750 hours tutoring, mentoring, training, collaborating and providing opportunities for the arts to members of our local school district. The CNCS recognized the partnership as anchoring Miami's efforts in advancing early childhood literacy;

  • Miami Connections, an alternative school program located at Miami University, in which 130 Miami students gave 1,500 hours assisting 30 academically challenged ninth and 10th graders in their transition to high school;

  • The Urban Teaching Cohort (UTC), a community-based approach to teacher education. Miami faculty and 217 UTC students with 4,292 hours, collaborate with high-need schools and community-based organizations (CBOs) in the communities of those high-need schools to prepare teachers who are grounded in the life of the community; positively impact public school student achievement; and work with community members to advance community life.

  • The Butler County Success Program, a holistic case management program involving 23 Miami students providing 4,000 hours and two faculty giving 528 hours. The program works with liaisons based in more than 40 schools across seven school districts to remove non-cognitive barriers to learning by building bridges among home, school and community to improve school success and self-reliance. Parents gave high marks for improvements.

Other programs contributing to Miami’s selection in the Presidential Honor Roll are Opening Minds Through Art (OMA) and Sharefest.

Details on these and the other programs listed are found here.

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.

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