MACON – Mercer University is one of the most decorated institutions in the nation on the recently released 2015 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Mercer was named one of only four finalists nationally for the Presidential Award in one category and received Honor Roll with Distinction in two others.
The Honor Roll, compiled by the Corporation for National and Community Service, recognizes higher education institutions whose community service achieves meaningful impact in their communities. It is the highest federal recognition that colleges and universities can receive for service-learning and community service. The Honor Roll awards recipients in four categories – general community service, interfaith community service, economic opportunity, and education – and at four levels: Presidential Award (four recipients nationally), Presidential Award finalist (four recipients nationally), Honor Roll with Distinction and Honor Roll. Mercer was awarded in all three areas to which it applied.
Among Georgia institutions, Mercer was the only finalist for a Presidential Award – in the economic opportunity category – and the only to be awarded in more than two categories – in general community service, education, and economic opportunity.
“These recognitions are a testimony to the University's commitment to helping students develop skills in servant leadership and civic engagement,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “We often say that at Mercer, everyone majors in changing the world, and that slogan is borne out by the thousands of hours Mercer students give back to the community through service-learning classes and volunteerism. Our faculty and staff are to be commended for providing the leadership and inspiration that mobilizes our students to make such a huge difference in the world.”
“Service to the community has never been simply a 'nice add-on' to education at Mercer. It is part of our identity as a university to cultivate a spirit of servant leadership and civic action among our student body in all of our schools and colleges,” said Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, senior vice provost for service-learning and professor of English and women's and gender studies. “Our faculty put academic learning into action through service-learning courses, and our students go into local communities and sites in the developing world to improve lives by conducting health screenings for medically underserved residents, tutoring in low-income, Title I schools, taking on legal cases for indigent clients, and developing efficient methods for deconstructing blighted houses in neighborhoods, for instance.”
For the period under consideration for the 2015 President's Community Service Honor Roll, Mercer students contributed more than 400,000 hours of service, translating to a dollar value of nearly $10 million. Dr. Morgan projects that in 2016, Mercer will exceed 500,000 hours.
By the time they graduate, more than two-thirds of the University's students have taken a service-learning course or volunteered in the community, and half have taken two or more such courses, despite Mercer having no official graduation requirement for service-learning.
Just one example of such service is Real I.M.P.A.C.T. Center's Girl Power STEM Camp (see video above). The camp, intended to provide exercises in science, technology, mathematics and engineering for third- through eighth-grade girls in Middle Georgia, was coordinated by Dr. Sabrina Walthall, associate professor of science in Penfield College, with the help with a number of student and faculty volunteers.
For more information on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, visit www.nationalservice.gov/special-initiatives/honor-roll.