December

Alvernia Receives Presidential Honor for Community Service

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Alvernia University is one of only four institutions in Pennsylvania – and one of just 43 across the country - to earn the President’s Higher Education “Interfaith Community Service” Honor Roll with Distinction award for 2014. The university also received Honor Roll recognition for General Community Service and Education. One hundred percent of Alvernia graduates participate in some form of community service and last year students volunteered a combined 33,000 hours.

The President’s Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions whose community service efforts achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. This distinction is the highest federal recognition that colleges and universities can receive for community service, service-learning, and civic engagement. Other schools receiving recognition on the honor roll this year include Duke, Georgetown and Stanford universities.

Alvernia's interfaith efforts include a broad range of activities, lectures and programs that promote inter-religious and intercultural dialog, according to Alvernia President Thomas F. Flynn. "All too often, religion is used to divide not unite us. Interfaith dialogue, grounded in mutual understanding of our own faith traditions and those of others, is a process of exploring and discussing differences and shared values with respect.

"We have worked hard on Alvernia's campus to create an environment that fosters inter-cultural and inter-religious engagement among our students and in the broader Berks County community," Flynn said. "Our efforts that promote interfaith dialog reflect our Franciscan heritage and our Catholic intellectual tradition as well."

Presidential honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded into curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service. Alvernia University has received honor roll recognition every year since the award's inception in 2006.

As a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) oversees the President’s Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education, Campus Compact, and the Interfaith Youth Core.

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. The initiative celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.

“While community service is in our institutional DNA and is something that is so very important to everyone at Alvernia, the university is also very committed to civic leadership — not only through the contributions of our students, but also through our faculty, staff, alumni and trustees as well,” said Flynn.

“Service and higher education go hand in hand,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “These schools are inspiring young leaders to roll up their sleeves and work alongside community members to solve problems. By recognizing the institutions who are leading the way to achieve meaningful, measurable results for the communities they serve, we also highlight the vital role all colleges and universities play in addressing community challenges and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.”

Alvernia’s Holleran Center for Community Engagement is a leader in service, working to pair college students with community partners for meaningful projects, including several annual, large-scale Days of Service, sustainable farming and constant mentoring of inner city children through the South Reading Youth Initiative. Through activities like “Franciscan Friday” and curriculum that embraces service-learning opportunities, Alvernia students are imbedded throughout the community and learning to find a home in civic engagement.

“The Holleran Center is here to improve the quality of life in the community and to develop students into engaged citizens with a lifelong commitment to service,” said Director Jay Worrall who travelled to Washington, D.C., to accept the award. "Alvernia is very committed to service and community engagement, and could not be more pleased for our collective efforts to be recognized with such a high honor.”

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