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Walsh University Receives National Recognition for Community Service

For the third consecutive year, Walsh University has been honored as a leader among institutions of higher education for its support of volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Walsh was admitted to the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging its students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.

College students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. Over 1,860 Walsh University students have engaged in academic and community service-learning projects in 2012. Combined, the students volunteered an impressive 25,606 service hours.

In addition to the Presidential Award winners, a total of 690 higher education institutions were named to the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Of this number, 113 institutions earned the recognition of Honor Roll with Distinction.

Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, CNCS has administered the award since 2006.

Service to others has been a part of the mission of Walsh University ever since the Brothers of Christian Instruction founded the University in 1960.Service permeates student life and institutional culture with Walsh students serving the local region and neighbors as far away as Uganda. Core values – excellence, integrity, service – drive the deeply rooted mission of "educating its students to become leaders in service to others."

To prepare students to address local needs and to extend community beyond borders, every entering undergraduate student since 2005 has taken a service learning course. Internationally, students in the Masters of Counseling and Human Development Program have helped to train Ugandan counseling para-professionals in handling war-related trauma and crisis intervention. Locally, the Office of Social Outreach links students, faculty/staff and agencies for fall/spring break service trips, Harvest for Hunger, blood drives, Adopt-a-Family,mentoring programs, and nursing home outreach. Service is a mandatory part of the Walsh education from the athletic department to the classroom, and is strongly encouraged for all employees as well.

The following programs were highlighted on Walsh's 2011-12 Honor Roll application:

Commitment to Veterans: In the "Introduction to Oral History" course, textbook material comes to life and faculty help preserve history by teaching the process of conducting oral history interviews. Focusing on veterans' Vietnam War experiences, students in this course interviewed 26 from the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The recorded interviews are now available via the Walsh University library website and several are available through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. The students also produced a book about the project on a self-publishing website.

Veterans from the oral history project were invited to join another Walsh initiative — a writing and discussion group focusing on war literature and film. Formed and facilitated by an English professor and scholar of American war literature, the group has been meeting twice a month since April with 8-10 participants per session.

Commitment to Kids: Since Fall 2008, Walsh University has worked with Canton, Ohio's Belden Elementary School after-school program (96.9%economically disadvantaged students 2010-2011 School Year Report Card, Ohio Board of Education). In 2011-12, Walsh students from multiple service learning courses mentored and tutored 3rd through 6th graders. While Belden after school students self-select, the program targets those with lower math and reading test scores. The after school program focuses on advancing student achievement by offering additional instruction time with Belden teachers, homework help with tutors, and extracurricular activities to complement the students' academic programs. Walsh students help with math, reading, spelling, and other academic areas. In return, some service learning students choose education research topics based on issues or questions that arise in the course of the program and others apply sociological or theological content to the service experience.

Commitment to Environment: A faculty member's passion for botany drives significant environmental work at Walsh and in Ohio. Field Botany, a service learning course since 2008, has worked on local Stark County field studies and invasive species eradication, and partners with Camp Mowanain Mansfield, operated by Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in Ohio (LOMO) as a year-round environmental education site for youth, adults, and families.

In May 2012, nine students and two faculty members served 180 hours removing invasive species (86 bags of garlic mustard; 10 multiflora rosebushes). Students other than field botanists have also completed 200 service hours. Two students surveyed a stream and 125 flora species at Hoover Park(North Canton, OH). One surveyed two Muskingum Scout Reservation lakes and 15 students helped 400 first-third graders at Hartville Elementary (Hartville, OH) learn about local plants.

Biology majors continue service, compiling a checklist of plants in Hoover Park's 35 acres and analyzing water quality of park wetlands and stream.

Walsh University is promoted for its strong Catholic identity at TheNewmanGuide.com by The Cardinal Newman Society.

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

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