Focus on Community Service Earns Mary Baldwin Spot on Honor Roll

March 4, 2010

A testament to Mary Baldwin University’s commitment to service and civic engagement, the college has been named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Cooperation for National and Community Service.

Mary Baldwin joins more than 700 colleges and universities nationwide and 16 other Virginia institutions in being recognized for achievement in community service. The honor roll was established in 2006 and helps increase public awareness about the contributions that colleges and their students make to society.

Director of Civic Engagement Steve Grande noted in the college’s application for the honor roll that service learning is a core part of Mary Baldwin’s mission and highlighted three main projects that demonstrate students’ commitment to service.

The first — Artists as Peace Practitioners — recognized the work students performed with Mary Baldwin Artist-in-Residence and peace activist Claudia Bernardi. Students traveled to Perquin, El Salvador, on a Spring Break trip in 2009 to participate in a collaborative, community-based art project where they learned about the atrocities of the 12-year civil war in that country.

“Students then spent five days working in Perquin as artists-in-residence, developing murals and other community art projects with civil war survivors, elderly individuals and children,” Grande said.

Later in the year, students and Bernardi created an on-campus peace mural as part of a May Term course.

Also highlighted was the work of students in bringing attention to an endangered Staunton watershed — Lewis Creek — reaching out to city residents and elementary and secondary education students.

Mary Baldwin’s Service Learning Speaker Series — in which community representatives meet weekly with students to speak about their experience in public service — was also instrumental in securing the college’s place on the President’s honor roll.

Not only does being named to the honor roll demonstrate the college’s commitment to strengthening the community, but it could also mean attracting more students looking for a college with a community service niche.

Students at Mary Baldwin are part of a national trend indicating an increased enthusiasm for service among college students. According to the Higher Education Research Institute, two-thirds of entering college students believed it was very important to help others, the highest percentage in 25 years.