AMHERST, Mass. - The Corporation for National and Community Service has named the University of Massachusetts Amherst to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, recognizing the campus’s commitment to volunteering, service learning and civic engagement. UMass Amherst has achieved the recognition every year since the honor roll was established in 2007.
The Corporation for National and Community Service, which administers the annual honor roll award, recognizes colleges and universities for their impact on issues from poverty and homelessness to environmental justice.
The corporation oversees the honor roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of factors, including 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.
John Reiff, director of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning at UMass Amherst, says the award highlights the efforts of students and faculty to make a difference in communities in Western Massachusetts, across the Commonwealth and around the world.
"We are continuing to develop new opportunities for our students to integrate community service learning and engagement into their academic studies," he says. "We have more than 40 partnerships with community organizations and schools in Holyoke, Springfield, Amherst and area towns that host service-learning placements connected to UMass courses."
In addition, UMass Amherst recently launched a new Civic Engagement and Public Service certificate program for students, and the bachelor’s degree with individual concentration program added a track called CivX, which allows students to design their own major that incorporates civic engagement requirements.
Through a fellowship program, UMass Amherst faculty are encouraged to develop courses that include service-learning and a new system has been introduced that makes it easier for students to identify civic engagement and service-learning courses when they register for classes.
Four years ago, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named UMass Amherst a Community-Engaged University under a rigorous classification process developed to document community engagement in the college curriculum, and separately in external outreach and partnerships. The foundation, an independent policy and research center dedicated to the improvement of teaching and learning, recognized UMass Amherst for its engagement initiatives in both areas - the curriculum and community partnerships.