Fordham University has been named to President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a national recognition program that promotes public service for American colleges and universities.
Fordham’s first-time award came “With Distinction” and placed the University among 114 other colleges nationwide to receive the recognition. The White House made the announcement on Feb. 26.
“Fordham has been doing really good work in the community, and we don’t often toot our own horn,” said Sandra Lobo-Jost (FCRH ’97, GSS ’04), director of Fordham’s Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice, the liaison organization between the University and its surrounding communities in the Bronx and Manhattan. “Social justice is at the heart of Fordham’s culture and we’re excited to receive an award that reflects the work we do as a whole.”
In New York state, Fordham was one of 12 colleges to receive the award, joined by SUNY-Binghamton, Brooklyn College, Elmira College, New York University, Syracuse University and others.
During the 2008-2009 academic year, 4,220 Fordham students engaged in general community service for a total of 954,100 service hours. Community service is defined as any activity designed to improve the quality of life of off-campus community residents, particularly low-income residents. The award reflected programs across all Fordham campuses and all Fordham schools, including the professional schools of Fordham Law, the Graduate School of Education and the Graduate School of Social Service.
Among the public service projects that Fordham students volunteered in were New York City’s HOPE Count to estimate the number of homeless New Yorkers and Urban Plunge, a program in which student volunteers work with 17 community organizations. Urban Plunge volunteers worked to combat hunger, promote affordable housing, educate youth and foster community development in various communities across New York City.
The Dorothy Day Center also connected Fordham’s student groups with at-risk youth in local middle and high schools to provide mentorship, arts and academic workshops, and to offer guidance to high school student clubs.
The award also recognized a second service component—service learning—by which Fordham faculty have utilized service to the community as a learning resource for their students in two dozen “service integrated” courses across all disciplines.
Each course has a mandatory service component and, with titles such as “Spanish and New York City,” “New York City Politics,” “Religion in Public Life” and “Global Economy,” are very popular with students, Lobo-Jost said. Students’ service placements include working with immigrants seeking asylum, in a local soup kitchen or helping to organize for a living wage, depending on the focus of the course, she said.
The presidential recognition is part of the White House’s United We Serve initiative to encourage Americans to make service a daily part of their lives.
“This award reflects the work of the entire University and its schools, and all of their service work, whether it be law clinics, grassroots volunteers, school programs, social services or anything else,” Lobo-Jost said. “Fordham continues to build many bridges to the community.”