Northwestern receives national recognition for community service efforts

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Northwestern receives national recognition for community service efforts

March 4, 2010

Northwestern Oklahoma State University has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

 The Big Event
The Big Event

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual Honor Roll award, recognized colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice. On campuses across the country, thousands of students joined their faculty and staff to develop innovative programs and projects to meet local needs using the skills gained in their classrooms.

Only seven of Oklahoma’s 25 public higher education institutions were named to the honor roll.

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

“I am extremely proud of our students, faculty and staff for their willingness to participate in projects that improve our communities,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president. “We have strived to promote social responsibility throughout our curriculum and programs and foster a culture of encouraging service to others. It’s clear our students have taken this to heart.”


Democracy Now
Democracy NOW 

Northwestern was recognized for its Democracy Now project and for The Big Event community service day organized by Conserving Our Ranger Environment (CORE).


Democracy Now, working under the umbrella of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Campus Compact grant program, was formed as a local, non-partisan service learning project organized and coordinated by a class of government students at Northwestern. The students sponsored voter registration drives and held a series of election forums on campus during the 2008 elections. Kathleen O’Halleran, an instructor in the Department of Social Sciences, applied for the grant and administered the program.


In its first year, The Big Event organized nearly 200 student, faculty and staff to provide a day of service to Northwestern’s campus communities of Alva, Enid and Woodward. Teams of participants picked up trash, planted trees, assisted with the development of low-income housing and demolished a dilapidated building. The Big Event is now an annual campus initiative. Janet Valencia, staff sponsor for CORE, and Dr. Steven Mackie, faculty sponsor, worked with students to coordinate the event. 

Dr. James Bowen, dean of the School of Professional Studies, who chairs the university’s service learning committee, submitted Northwestern’s application for the President’s Honor Roll.

College students make a significant contribution to the volunteer sector; in 2009, 3.16 million students performed more than 300 million hours of service, according to the Volunteering in America study released by the Corporation. Bowen reported in the application that approximately 318 Northwestern students engaged in some form of community service during the 2008-2009 academic year. This resulted in more than 10,000 hours of service to the community.


The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs.