Oxy Named to Honor Roll
Occidental College has been named to the first-ever President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a new federal effort to recognize colleges that have provided outstanding service to their communities.
Occidental was one of 99 colleges and universities honored “with distinction” by the Corporation for National and Community Service for their outreach efforts over the past year, including service to areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. More than 500 institutions of higher education applied for the honor.
From July 2005 through June 2006, some 1,200 Occidental students – almost two-thirds of the entire student body -- participated in a wide variety of community service projects, many of them focused on local schools in Northeast Los Angeles. Of that number, approximately 800 contributed more than 20 hours per semester.
“Occidental has a long tradition of service to the community, and I’m delighted that our students are receiving national recognition for their work,” said Occidental President Susan W. Prager. “What really makes Occidental stand out is the way our faculty has worked to integrate the challenges and opportunities of our region into our curriculum. Thanks to their commitment and the work of our Center for Community Based Learning, students’ involvement with the community is directly related to what they are learning in the classroom.”
Examples of community-based learning at Occidental include:
- Individual initiatives by students such as Leslie Mahley ’06, who played a role in framing an important regional policy debate by working with community-based organizations, health scientists and researchers to address the movement of goods into and out of local ports as a major source of air pollution.
- A new collaborative venture between the mathematics departments at Occidental and nearby Franklin High School that involves using Occidental students to explore ways to increase the number of Franklin students who pass algebra – one of the keys to increasing high school graduation rates.
- Spanish classes whose students provide tutoring to pupils in local elementary and middle schools, many of whom come from Spanish-speaking households. The children benefit from the tutoring, and Occidental students get an excellent opportunity to hone their verbal language skills in a real-life setting.
Improving access to college has long been a focus of Occidental’s outreach efforts. The college’s Upward Bound program celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. One of California’s largest and most successful programs, it serves more than 200 low-income first generation college-bound students each year. Last year, Occidental’s GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District served more than 1,500 low-income middle and high school students from three local schools. Both Upward Bound and GEAR UP utilize the services of dozens of Occidental students.
According to a newly released report from the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteering by college students increased 20 percent from 2003 to 2005. More than 3.3 million college students volunteered in 2005, the report found.
The honor roll is sponsored by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, the USA Freedom Corps, the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, and Campus Compact, the nonprofit association dedicated to building community and civic work into campus life. Occidental is a member of Campus Compact.