12/22/2008 - Carnegie Foundation grants service citation to Judson
By Michael J. Brooks
Judson College is one of three colleges in Alabama to be awarded a citation for "community engagement" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. .
The Carnegie Foundation announced the designation in a letter to Judson president David Potts on Dec. 12.
Judson is among 119 colleges and universities around the country to be selected for this classification. Some 217 institutions began the application process before the Sept. 1 deadline, and 119 were selected and notified this month.
Judson was classified as a "community engagement school" in both areas that Carnegie lists: "curricular engagement" and "outreach and partnerships."
According to Judson's Faith-Based Service and Learning director, Susan Jones, the college listed 15 service partnerships and projects from the most recent year in the application that brought about the citation.
"The 'curricular engagement' section basically affirms what we do in the classroom," Jones said. "This is our faculty and students planning and executing community projects. The 'outreach' designation tells of the community's willingness to partner with us."
Projects included "Food for Families," in partnership with Sowing Seeds of Hope and Volunteers of America, that provided food for local families while raising awareness of hunger needs. This project provided Thanksgiving dinner to 120 families in the community who are living in poverty and staple items to eight families who lost their homes in a tornado.
FBSL also partnered with SSH and the Berean Baptist Head Start to canvass the community and find families in need of health care available from Children's Health Insurance Registration Program. Eleven families were discovered and nine children have been enrolled in the program to date.
Judson faculty also spent time at Frances Marion High School through the "Campus Connection" program. This project gave high-schoolers experience with college-level teaching and encouraged more to apply for higher education upon their graduation.
Jones said she's observed Judson students developing a passion for serving others as they've engaged in various projects.
"Our students have seen that what they learn in the classroom can be applied in the community and make a difference in the lives of people," she said. "These are life lessons that will remain with them after they graduate."
Potts agreed with this assessment.
"The work of faith-based service learning at Judson College engages students in dialogue with the poor of the Black Belt and in meeting critical needs of children and families, thus providing a hand-up," he said.
"The beauty of these initiatives is that we are, as Shakespeare said, ‘twice blessed'--the giver and receiver are both blessed by the exchange," he said. "Students learn that the theories and subjects they study can be applied in work that can make a profound difference in the lives of people. Students and faculty alike find meaning in authentic service--living the exhortation of Christ in the 25th chapter of the gospel of Matthew."
Judson senior Keri Reeves of Hamilton participated in several FBSL projects.
"Service learning is important because it helps bring Judson students and the people of Perry County together," she said. "Projects throughout the year allowed me to have face-to-face contact with many of Marion's families which would not have happened otherwise."
Senior Susan Guider of Utica, Miss. said, "Service learning has helped open my eyes and my heart to the needs of others. It has helped define the purpose of my life."
Jones said in addition to teaching students the value of service, the Carnegie designation may be helpful in other ways.
"One is in additional funding," she said. "This will help us as we apply for more grants to engage in future projects. And the other boost we hope to see is in recruitment. Some students look for community engagement as they shop for colleges. This designation tells them that service is a vital part of what we do at Judson."
Judson's FBSL initiative is funded by a grant from the Christ Is Our Salvation Foundation of Waco, Texas.
"Our college has been engaged in service and learning for a long time," Potts said. "It was this history and the compelling needs of people in the region that drew the interest of the CIOS Foundation. Their support helped us staff the FBSL office and accelerate our involvement in these programs."
The list of the recently-designated "community engagement" institutions can be viewed at the Carnegie Foundation website, www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications.
* Article courtesy of the Judson College Public Relations Department.