Civic Engagement at UMass Dartmouth earns Top 20 National Ranking

by Jesse Goodwin, Staff Writer

For the fourth consecutive year, UMass Dartmouth has earned a national Top 20 ranking on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships.

It consists of 766 institutions of higher education selected from thousands nationwide, which are ranked by the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS).

Since 2006, CNCS has administered the award in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the American Council on Education, Campus Compact, and the Interfaith Youth Core.

UMass Dartmouth was one of four institutions to be designated as a finalist in the Economic Opportunity category, one of four award categories established by the CNCS.

UMass Dartmouth was also awarded national distinction status in the General Community Service, Education, and Interfaith Efforts categories.

“Civic engagement is integral to the teaching, learning, and research that occurs here at UMass Dartmouth,” said interim Chancellor Peyton R. Helm. “Not only do these initiatives help strengthen the economic, cultural and social fabric of the community, they create life-changing opportunities for our students to develop the skills and knowledge that every citizen needs.”

Dr. Matt Roy, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Civic Engagement on campus, added: “From harvesting crops for regional food pantries to creating marketing plans for non-profits to providing low-cost legal assistance for people at risk, our students and faculty are having an enormous impact on the quality of life beyond the campus.”

UMass Dartmouth’s civic engagement has increased significantly in recent years. Since 2009, the number of students exposed to a service learning course—a credit-bearing course where community-based service is embedded in the class—has grown from 3,378 per semester to 6,333. Likewise, the number of faculty teaching service learning courses has grown from 96 to 159. Over 80% of UMass Dartmouth graduates have at least one service-learning experience.

Today, UMass Dartmouth students annually perform more than 230,000 hours of community service, valued at nearly $7 million.

The Robert and Jeanne Leduc Center for Civic Engagement, started by UMass Dartmouth in Fall 2008, is largely responsible for the school’s commitment to civic engagement.

Its mission is: “To enrich the lives of our faculty, students, staff, and community through engaged learning, active citizenship, meaningful community service, scholarship, and mutually-beneficial partnerships.”

A sample of civic engagement activities facilitated by the Leduc Center includes regular visits to the Sharing the Harvest Community Farm in Dartmouth and the annual Leduc Center for Civic Engagement Youth Summit.

At Sharing the Harvest, the Dartmouth YMCA Farm, the Leduc Center collaborates with the Graduate Senate Student to harvest thousands of pounds of produce and send them to nearby food pantries.

The Youth Summit advises hundreds of area high school and middle school students on how to effectively engage in the community and includes an effort to distribute food to thousands of people worldwide.

Looking for volunteer opportunities? The Leduc Center is located in room 031 of the Liberal Arts building and can be reached by phone at (508) 999-8144 or by email.

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