For the fifth consecutive year since its inception, the Corporation for National and Community Service has named Cal State San Marcos to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, recognizing the nation's leading institutions of higher education for their exemplary, innovative and impactful community service programs.

“We are delighted to find ourselves on the Honor Roll again this year,” said Dr. Darci Strother, director of the CSUSM Office of Community Service Learning. “It is a tribute to CSUSM's students from all disciplines across our campus, who through their coursework, clubs and organizations, and self-driven initiatives, strengthen our region through their commitment to community service.”

A total of 851 institutions applied for the 2010 Honor Roll, a nine percent increase over last year, a sign of the growing interest by colleges and universities nationwide to engage students in service. From those applications, the Corporation for National and Community Service identified a total of 641 colleges and universities for their exceptional impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth. Cal State San Marcos has been recognized on the Honor Roll each year since the national program's inception in 2006.

“More and more our nation’s graduates are going into the world with a commitment to public service and the knowledge that they can make a difference in their communities and their own lives through service to others,” said Patrick A. Corvington, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “We congratulate Cal State San Marcos and its students on their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities… and for embracing their civic mission to tackle tough national challenges through service.”

On campuses across the nation, millions of college students are engaged in innovative projects to meet the local needs of their communities. In 2009, 3.2 million college students dedicated more than 307 million hours of service to communities across the country, valued at more than $6.4 billion.

“In just over two decades, we at Cal State San Marcos have built a proud and robust tradition of working with and serving our communities locally, nationally and globally,” said CSUSM President Karen Haynes. “Often the efforts of our students and faculty go unheralded yet their stories are extremely powerful and inspiring. Community engagement and service learning provide a win-win-win for our students, who are presented with new avenues for learning; for our faculty, who are able to make class topics relevant and bring them to life through hands on experience; and for the communities we serve, who are provided with the support and assistance they need from their university.”

Each year, more than 75 classes at Cal State San Marcos integrate service learning into the curriculum. Different than volunteerism, service learning brings to life the subject matter of a course by involving students in real world community service activities that directly relate to classroom teachings. Students annually log more than 160,000 hours of community service valued at over $1.2 million.

Recently, literature and writing students organized innovative literacy exercises for an afterschool program for at-risk elementary students, while teams of computer science students hosted workshops at a local library to help community members gain basic computer skills. From delivering meals to local seniors with limited mobility, to helping rehabilitate and care for sheltered animals, nearly 3,500 students at CSUSM, roughly one-third of the entire student population, participate in service learning each year.

In one project, students from Dr. Paul Stuhr’s kinesiology developed and taught physical education sessions at area middle schools. A mutually valuable partnership, the schools and their students benefit with lower student-teacher ratios and more individualized instruction.

“I was able to put into practice many of the techniques that I am taught in my physical education classes and apply them in a real world environment with actual students,” explained Chelsey Hazell, who spent 30 hours during the semester teaching tag rugby and soccer to middle school students.

By integrating service with instruction, CSUSM students deepen their understanding of course concepts and build a habit of social responsibility while serving their community.

“I truly feel that service learning should be a requirement for all students,” said communications alumna Ericka Arambula. “If anything, it gives back to the community in some way; and a person will always take something positive from such an experience, one that will stay with them well beyond college.”

“In just over two decades, we at Cal State San Marcos have built a proud and robust tradition of working with and serving our communities locally, nationally and globally,” said CSUSM President Karen Haynes.