Willamette University

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll logo2009 Presidential Award
Special Focus Area: Service to Youth From Disadvantaged Circumstances

Willamette University
Salem, Oregon

Willamette University’s values of civic engagement and social responsibility extend into the classroom, across campus, throughout the community, and around the world. In 2009, Willamette students, faculty, and staff engaged in more than 66,000 service hours.

The tradition of service permeates campus culture as students build innovative, collaborative partnerships that serve important community needs while learning valuable lessons through direct experience. Service gives Willamette students valuable vocational insight and helps them recognize their responsibility in the broader world.

In the Take a Break program, students spend spring and winter breaks serving in communities across the country. They have helped New Orleans residents rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, painted houses on Native American reservations, and worked with Chicago youths living in poverty.

As part of Willamette’s partnership with the Chemawa Indian School in Salem, about 30 Willamette students work with 150 Chemawa high school students weekly to foster shared social, cultural, and educational experiences. Undergraduates also assist migrant farm workers, work in homeless shelters, and restore native habitat, among many other activities. Law students contribute thousands of hours of legal assistance to Salem residents through the Willamette Legal Clinic. MBA students assist local and regional businesses and nonprofits, and graduate education students teach children in local schools.

Students also tutor and mentor at Willamette Academy, a college access program for high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The program is designed to help students become college-bound by promoting critical thinking skills, community leadership, and a love of learning.

Faculty also contribute to more than 100 community projects, nonprofit organizations, and schools. In addition they provide critical advice and oversight for many of Willamette's service-learning programs. Willamette also continually ranks among the top small colleges and universities in the nation for producing Peace Corps volunteers; 290 alumni have served since the program's inception in 1961.

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