Le Moyne honored for its commitment to service
Le Moyne was recently named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the 5th consecutive year the college has received this recognition.
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes colleges and universities that exhibit exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. The program was initially inspired by the college students who worked supporting relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
There are several levels of distinction, and with its status as part of the honor roll, Le Moyne is recognized alongside other New York colleges including Fordham University, Skidmore College, Ithaca College and SUNY at Binghamton. “This distinction recognizes the college’s involvement with civic engagement and service,” said Gloria Heffernan, director of service learning, “It really shows that service is an institutional priority.”
In the 2010-2011 academic year, over 2,400 students were engaged in some sort of service and the college logged about 45 thousand hours of service.
“These numbers are just one way to measure the college’s commitment though,” Heffernan said. For the college, the number of hours isn’t the most important measurement, “it’s the impact the college has on the community, both the local community and the communities that are served over alternative break trips.”
Nineteen Le Moyne classes this year offered service learning components, a method of teaching that combines academic curriculum with meaningful service. The projects have ranged from creating educational materials for local refugee and immigrant programs, to transcribing Veterans’ oral histories, to supporting the family and friends of residents at Francis House, an organization which provides a home, medical care and support to people with terminal illnesses.
Junior Casey Plummer is taking two classes with service learning components this semester, Death and Dying, taught by professor Susan Behuniak, and Native American Religions, taught by professor Mary MacDonald.
“It’s a better way to learn about something than just sitting in class,” said Plummer, who has worked with local organizations like Hope for Bereaved and the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation.
“I knew it would be real life experience, and I really like volunteer work,” she said.
Professor Diane Zigo believes that the service learning component in her class, Literacy Development in the Content Area, helps her students move beyond mere tutoring.
“To be able to teach English language learners effectively, for instance, our students need to understand the political, cultural, and economic issues that shape an immigrant’s experience, beyond just having a repertoire of teaching strategies,” she said.
Le Moyne’s emphasis on service learning is a major part of the college’s recognition, but Heffernan noted that the college’s commitment to service is holistic.
“It’s not just through [the service learning] office, but also through campus ministry, through student clubs and organizations, and through athletic teams,” she explained. “It’s not even limited to students, there are administrative and faculty forums that do important service too. The college takes a very integrated approach.”
According to Heffernan, service is especially vital to Le Moyne because of its Jesuit philosophy; it’s part of the college wide commitment to create “men and women for others.”
“I think our dedication to service is a reflection of who we are as an institution, who we’ve always been, and who we will be in the future,” Heffernan said.