Northwestern gains recognition for community service projects

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Northwestern gains recognition for community service projects

Community service initiatives created by Northwestern Oklahoma State University students and employees have gained national recognition, and the university has been named to The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

While the program requests university-wide community service data, the focus is on specific projects. During the application process, Ashton Ghaemi, service learning coordinator, submitted projects in the areas of General Community Service and Special Focus. Projects submitted include The Big Event, Ranger Relief Effort and Social Action Project – Bringing Awareness to Bullying. These three projects were submitted under both categories.

The purpose of this program is to recognize higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in the communities in which it serves.

“I am extremely proud that Northwestern has been recognized nationally for its commitment to community service,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, president. “While the award recognizes the institution, it is the personal commitment of our students, faculty and staff that is being honored. They are the ones that choose to devote time and energy to improving our communities. I could not be more proud of their service.”

The commitment to community service is apparent in the University’s Core Values that state, "Northwestern will strive to create a sense of community that extends beyond campus boundaries: seek partnerships and initiatives that will improve the quality of life for area residents; promote institutional and individual service to others; and embrace our role in a global society."

“For 2011-2012, Northwestern provided 6,000 volunteer hours to the communities it serves,” Ghaemi said. “More than 700 students participated in service learning projects and civic engagement events, and more than 1,200 of the service hours were completed by faculty and staff members.”

This is the second time Northwestern has been listed on the honor roll, the first was in 2009.

In the application, Ghaemi mentioned the environmental, educational and health issues facing Northwestern’s three rural communities that are often overlooked in terms of development initiatives. Too often funding and community programs reach more populated areas, while rural populations are left to struggle.

Although a number of grant programs do support rural initiatives, they are very competitive and a need cannot always wait for grant support.

“Northwestern realizes by starting its own improvement projects for the communities it serve, we can make an immediate and lasting difference,” Ghaemi said.

“Northwestern recognizes the importance of instilling the idea of community service in its students, which is demonstrated in the number of service hours supported by faculty and staff members.”

To learn more about Northwestern’s service learning projects, contact Ghaemi at (580) 327-8134 or