'Hurst makes honor roll

If the words ‘honor roll’ take you back to images of high school and the names of overachievers printed in the local newspaper, you would probably be surprised to hear that schools themselves can make honor roll.

Mercyhurst University has achieved a place among other worthy universities on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which started in 2006.

This annual award brings attention to those colleges and universities who devote themselves to civic commitment, or in other words, making meaningful and constructive change within their communities.

But what did Mercyhurst University specifically do to earn such recognition?

“In 2011-12, there were significant service events –- both short-term and long-term activities – that took place at the university,” Director of Service Learning Colin Hurley said.
These service events occurred because of the dedication of Mercyhurst students and employees in outreach efforts toward need in communities at the local, national, and international levels. Through these events, Mercyhurst was recognized as a university that recognizes its role in shaping its community in helpful and positive ways.

According to Hurley, there is no formal set of instructions that informs a school whether it has made the list or not. There are, however, several leading criteria which help a school out.

“Schools are commended for initiatives such as major ‘Days of Service,’ a formal service-learning program,” said Hurley, “having a significant (amount) (over seven percent) of federal work study students based in the local community, maintaining basic records of volunteer hours and volunteering outcomes (and many other criteria).”
Recognitions of a university’s accomplishments naturally adds to the prestige of the university as a whole.

“It is an affirmation of the quality of our students, faculty and staff, and it also affirms the educational value of civic engagement Mercyhurst University recognizes in its role for preparing tomorrow’s leaders,” Hurley said.

Bethany Brun, AmeriCorps VISTA member within the Service Learning office and a Mercyhurst alumna, agrees with Hurley.

“I am proud to serve as the AmeriCorps VISTA at an institution that proves year after year its commitment and dedication to serving the local, national, and international communities,” Brun said.

Still, Mercyhurst’s prestige is not solely linked to awards such as the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

“However, it is surely an affirmation and an annual challenge to do more and recall the motto of Carpe Diem,” Hurley said.

A list of colleges and universities recognized on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll can be found online at NationalService.gov.