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2013.03.05 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Communications
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: cdreed@unomaha.edu

UNO Honored Nationally for Community Engagement Efforts

Omaha - The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) continues its run as the most decorated higher-education institution in the state of Nebraska with its seventh-straight inclusion on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and third inclusion with distinction.

UNO is the only Nebraska institution to make the honor roll all seven years and is the only institution in the state to have been a “finalist” for the Higher Education Community Service President’s Award - earned in 2010. This year, UNO is only one of two Nebraska colleges or universities to make the honor roll “with distinction.” College of St. Mary is the other school honored with distinction.

To make the honor roll with distinction, a university must display strong levels of institutional commitment and provide a compelling case for partnerships that produce a measurable impact in the community.

Over the past year, UNO has showcased its commitment to local community engagement through projects like the Service Learning Academy’s P-16 Initiative, Student-Community Leadership and Service’s SummerWorks program and breaking ground on our new Community Engagement Center, which will open in March 2014.

In 2012, UNO was visited by Barbara Holland, professor at Portland State University and an international expert on community engagement. During her visit, Holland praised UNO’s commitment to building a center dedicated to bridging relationships between academia and the public.

“This is the first place I know of that’s actually building a facility explicitly meant to be a shared space for shared work,” Holland told the Omaha World-Herald. “Many other institutions will be watching to see how this goes.”

UNO has also extended its community engagement efforts globally with visits to Peru to discuss water quality and water access and partnering with Pakistan to increase the country’s service-learning efforts.

“This award is based on scope, depth and quality of UNO’s academic and co-curricular service, volunteer and civic participation activities by students, faculty and staff,” said Deborah Smith-Howell, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs. “It reflects the efforts of thousands of students and hundreds of faculty and staff in all colleges, majors and organizations.”

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service. The announcement comes just two weeks before Seven Days of Service, a week when hundreds of UNO students give up their Spring Break to give back to Omaha and Council Bluffs communities.

“This recognition is a testament to the high quality projects developed and sustained by UNO faculty, students and staff and their community partners,” explained Paul Sather, director of the UNO Service Learning Academy. “Few universities in the country have been able to maintain this exceptional level of excellence in their community engagement efforts.”

CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development as well as Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of that service.

“Communities are strengthened when we all come together, and we are encouraged that these institutions and their students have made service a priority,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement. “Civic engagement should be a key component of every student’s education experience. Through reaching out to meet the needs of their neighbors, these students are deepening their impact, strengthening our democracy and ultimately preparing themselves to be successful citizens.”

For a full list of recipients and descriptions of their service, visit http://www.nationalservice.gov/honorroll.

For more information on UNO’s community service efforts, please contact:

Paul Sather, Service Learning Academy, at psather@unomaha.edu, or by phone at 402.554.3916
Kathe Oleson Lyons, Student-Community Leadership and Service, at kathleeoleson@unomaha.edu, or by phone at 402.554.4083
Sara Woods, Community Engagement Center, at swoods@unomaha.edu, or by phone at 402.554.3914.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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© 2014 University Communications. voice: 402.554.2129, fax: 402.554.3541, unonews@unomaha.edu