SHU Receives National Recognition For Community Service

News Story: May 1, 2011

As colleges across the country honor their graduates this commencement season, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) honored Sacred Heart University as a leader among institutions of higher education for their support of volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. Sacred Heart University was admitted to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for engaging its students, faculty and staff in meaningful service that achieves measurable results in the community.

The Corporation for National and Community Service, which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted a total of 641 colleges and universities for their impact on issues from literacy and neighborhood revitalization to supporting at-risk youth. Of that total, 511 were named to the Honor Roll, 114 received the recognition of Honor Roll with distinction, 11 were identified as finalists, and six received the Presidential Award.

"As members of the class of 2011 cross the stage to pick up their diplomas, more and more will be 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, thanks to the leadership of these institutions," said Patrick A. Corvington, Chief Executive Officer of CNCS.  “Congratulations to Sacred Heart University and its students for their dedication to service and commitment to improving their local communities.  We salute all the Honor Roll awardees for embracing their civic mission and providing opportunities for their students to tackle tough national challenges through service.”

During Community Connections 2010, from left, freshman Nicolai Samuels of Bridgeport, CT, team leader and senior Amanda Francini of Berlin, CT, and freshman Natalie Giardina of Pompton Plains, NJ, served food at the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport.

Sacred Heart University’s Office of Volunteer Programs plays host to an abundance of community programs, ranging from outreach in soup kitchens and local schools to building houses for the less fortunate.  SHU students participate widely in all the programs that are available, putting in as much as 40,000 volunteer hours per year.  Among those programs are Habitat for Humanity, as well as Community Connections for incoming freshmen and C.U.R.T.I.S. Week, named for the University’s founder, Bishop Walter W. Curtis.  Students who get involved with the Habitat for Humanity chapter on campus go out into the community, oftentimes sacrificing their spring break to work on a Habitat project out of state, to help in the building of houses for the needy.  The service-immersion programs Community Connections and C.U.R.T.I.S. Week (an acronym for Community Understanding and Reflection Through Inner-city Service,) prompt students to experience the economic and social challenges of the less-fortunate by volunteering at various organizations throughout Bridgeport, CT, a neighboring city to the University.  Students also get involved in local schools as teaching assistants, tutors and coaches, as well as participating in ‘Read-Aloud’ and mentoring programs.  Additional involvement includes hosting social events with the elderly and special needs individuals, planting in the St. Martha Community Garden on campus (the produce grown is donated to the Connecticut Food Bank through Catholic Charities’ Harvest Now) and hosting food drives for the needy, not only at holiday times, but throughout the year.

Sacred Heart University Director of Volunteer Programs Dawn Doucette said of the honor, “I am so happy to hear we received the award again this year.  I believe that our students, faculty and staff should be recognized for their commitment to following the mission of the University; being responsible for the common good of society and recognition of the dignity and worth of every human being.”

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 in highlighting their efforts to engage students in making a difference in the community.
On campuses across the country, millions of college students are engaged in innovative projects to meet local needs, often using the skills learned in classrooms.  In 2009, 3.2 million college students dedicated more than 307 million hours of service to communities across the country, service valued at more than $6.4 billion.  Business and law students offer tax preparation and legal services, and college student volunteers provide meals, create parks, rebuild homes after disasters, conduct job training, run senior service programs, and much more.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a strong partner with the nation’s colleges and universities in supporting community service and service-learning.  Last year, CNCS provided more than $215 million in support to institutions of higher education, including grants to operate service programs and the Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards for college tuition and student loan repayment.  CNCS is a catalyst for service-learning programs nationwide that connect community service with academic curricula. Through these programs, in classes, and in extracurricular activities, college students serve their communities while strengthening their academic and civic skills.

CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, 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 the service. For a full list of recipients and descriptions of their service, visit


The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Barack Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit

Sacred Heart University, the second-largest Catholic university in New England, offers more than 40 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs on its main campus in Fairfield, Connecticut, and satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland. More than 6,000 students attend the University’s four colleges: Arts & Sciences; Education & Health Professions; University College; and the AACSB-accredited John F. (Jack) Welch College of Business. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its guides “Best 373 Colleges: 2011,” “Best in the Northeast” and “Best 300 Business Schools: 2011.” U.S. News & World Report ranks SHU among the best master’s universities in the North in its annual “America’s Best Colleges” publication. As one of just 23 institutions nationally, SHU is a member of the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ (AAC&U) Core Commitments Leadership Consortium, in recognition of its core, “The Human Journey.” SHU fields 31 division I athletic teams, and has an award-winning program of community service.