WCU makes community service honor roll

The Corporation for National and Community Service recently named Western Carolina University to the annual President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The most recent recipients were announced Monday, March 12, at the American Council on Education’s 94th annual meeting held in Los Angeles.

“WCU is proud to be recognized for our strong commitment to join with our community partners in service and service learning,” said Beth Tyson Lofquist, interim provost. “These partnerships benefit not only our students but also the members of our community and residents of our region.”

This marks the fifth consecutive year WCU has been named to the national honor roll of institutions that reflect values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.

“Once again, the Corporation for National and Community Service has recognized WCU for our exemplary course-based service learning, co-curricular volunteer projects and interdisciplinary initiatives,” said Jennifer Cooper, interim director of service learning at WCU. “Our students are able to participate in classes like Arledge Armenaki’s ‘Directing the Documentary’ course, where students learn about documentary filmmaking while working with local nonprofit agencies; and initiatives like the Dillsboro/WCU collaboration, which allows students and faculty from many disciplines to come together and apply their skills to help with economic development in a neighboring community. These projects provide a meaningful educational experience for students while simultaneously strengthening the surrounding region.”

In the timeframe considered for the honor, 6,750 WCU students participated in community service or academic service-learning projects and completed about 52,000 hours of community service.

Cooper noted that WCU hosts course-based service-learning projects in every academic department on campus, sponsors a range of one-day volunteer events and assists with many long-term community initiatives. Highlights include the Campus Kitchen Garden, a student-run organic plot that donates produce to a local soup kitchen; an alternative break program that provides immersive service experience during semester breaks; and the Tuckaseigee River Cleanup, the nation’s largest one-day river cleanup.

In addition, 105 students and 20 staff members participating in WCU’s six-week Academic Success Program completed more than 400 hours of service packing meals at a food bank, cooking and serving dinner at a soup kitchen, painting a women’s shelter, participating in a creek cleanup with a water quality group and working with children at a tribal child care agency.

For more information, contact Cooper, interim director of service learning, at 828-227-2595 or jacooper@wcu.edu.