GV gets presidential recognition for 2M community service hours

GVL / Andrea Baker

Andrea Baker

GVL / Andrea Baker

Sarah Hillenbrand

Grand Valley State University received recognition on March 19 for its community service in the area through the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the fourth consecutive year.

Students are actively participating in community service, with 38,486 examples of student engagement in community service and more than 2 million hours of service being performed during the 2010-2011 academic school year.

“It really speaks to both what students are doing through their academic coursework, and also what they do in their external time as well,” said Jeff Mutch, coordinator of the Community Service Learning Center. “A lot of students are using their time to volunteer and do service work in the community.”

Any college or university across the country can fill out an application to receive this recognition, which is awarded based on the number of service hours students, faculty and staff have completed, the outcomes of the service performed and how that service has impacted the community, said Nancy Giardina, assistant president for academic and student affairs.

“It’s very honorable to have the university recognized for the contributions of our students, faculty, staff and administration,” Giardina said.

Part of the application process included submitting stories about community service being done. Students have participated in a wide variety of projects such as working with Lakota Sioux Native Americans in South Dakota, building a bubble tower for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and creating a program to teach students in Grand Rapids schools about healthy eating habits and exercise.

“It really shows Grand Valley’s commitment to the community,” said Valerie Jones, assistant director of Student Life, who also oversees service and leadership initiatives.

A number of GVSU faculty have community service learning tied to academic coursework, which contributes to the university’s positive impact in the community, Jones said. “(The recognition) affirms what we know our students do and what our faculty are interested in doing,” she said. “It gives us the ability to publicly declare this commitment and this value and let it be known.”

Mutch said GVSU also looks for opportunities to grow relationships and partnerships with different nonprofit organizations and other outside partners. “We try to find creative ways to help address community issues and needs and at the same time provide a beneficial experience for students while at Grand Valley,” he said.

Jones said the Community Service Learning Center is always looking for more students to get involved in volunteer work. To help volunteers record their service hours and projects, the center has added a new tool on its website called a service tracker that helps individual students, faculty and staff keep track of their service. It also helps GVSU collect data and information to use for reports in the future. “ We welcome more students, faculty and staff to come utilize our center to get connected to opportunities,” Jones said.

Giardina said GVSU’s reception of this award is very uplifting and reflects positively on the university. “I would like to say a special thanks to all the students, faculty, and staff that provide community service all over the area, state, country and world,” she said.

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