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Valparaiso University Receives Presidential Recognition for Community Service

Valparaiso University has once again been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, joining a group of select universities and colleges across the country that are honored for their support of volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.

A 2012 Honor Roll member, Valpo is one of only four universities in Indiana to achieve Honor Roll with Distinction status for 2013.

“This distinction in the honor roll celebrates the ongoing commitment that our students have in serving our communities and the deep ways they learn through these experiences,” said Brian Johnson, Executive Director of Campus Ministries. “This is the first time that Valparaiso University has received this level of recognition, yet it represents the long tradition of serving that our students regularly engage in.”

Sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Honor Roll annually highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement by recognizing institutions that achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve.

Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the breadth, depth, and innovation of service projects; the percentage of student participation in service activities; incentives for service; and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

Three exemplary service projects highlight Valpo’s application:

  • Northwest Indiana Lutheran Hispanic Mission Society Compass Education Program: More than 30 students dedicated nearly 1,800 hours to aid this mentoring program for international neighbors of all ages in Northwest Indiana. Valpo students worked with 80 local children who come from homes where English is not spoken, helping the children with their homework and promoting a fun learning environment. Students also worked with a retired Valpo professor who leads citizenship classes that have served immigrants from Mexico, Korea, Kenya, Vietnam and Colombia, among other countries.
  • Engineers Without Borders: Forty students and three members of Valpo faculty and staff contributed nearly 6,000 hours to improve the quality of water and agriculture for the 3,000 villagers of Masaera, Tanzania. After designing a filtration system and raising nearly $50,000, 10 students, two faculty members, one staff member and a professional advisor traveled to Tanzania for a 12-day trip to improve irrigation canals in the village and teach the Masaera inhabitants how to do maintenance on the canals to ensure sustainability of the project.
  • College Mentors for Kids: Sixty Valpo students dedicated more than 3,300 hours to work with children from local elementary schools to increase interest in higher education, cultural diversity and community improvement.

In preparing students to lead and serve in both church and society, Valpo provides opportunities for life-changing service experiences that help people and communities while deepening students’ understanding of the world and themselves. In 2012, Valpo named Elizabeth Lynn as director of the University’s Institute for Leadership and Service, located in the Office of Campus Ministries, which aims to expand and enhance opportunities for experiential learning, service, and vocational reflection throughout the University’s curriculum and in the larger community.

Through the Compass Education Program, Engineers Without Borders, College Mentors for Kids, and countless other service-learning experiences, Valpo students, faculty, and staff work tirelessly to improve the lives of others — on campus, in the greater Valparaiso community, and throughout the world.