St. Mary's University
Special Focus: Promise Neighborhoods Model
St. Mary’s University | San Antonio, Texas, Charles Cotrell, PhD, president
Upholding its Catholic and Marianist traditions since 1852, St. Mary’s University has always embraced its educational mission in service to society. The university excels in developing graduates who, inspired by faith, are informed community builders who seek understanding and wisdom for the common good, and who are prepared to lead extraordinary lives.
Through the school’s Neighborhood Revitalization Project, started in 2007, volunteers have played a vital role in improving the neighborhoods around its San Antonio campus. Through their many strategic partnerships, they have improved infrastructure and streetscapes, created urban pocket-parks, built affordable housing, supported a more sustainable business community, and provided resources for residents that covered home ownership, credit counseling, and home repair assistance.
In a largely Spanish-speaking community, where more than 32 percent of the residents lack a high school diploma, St. Mary’s students participate in several college preparatory programs. One of these programs, Upward Bound, paired more than 130 young people with mentors in a year-round intensive program that achieves its goals through family-style support systems and continuous interaction with college students and professors.
Nearly 100 middle school students were mentored in preparation for their SATs through St. Mary’s Stand and Deliver program. More importantly, however, these children learned how to learn, and were mentored by college students and professors on the rigors of higher education. The mentors became their champions and believed in the abilities of these bright, motivated students.
All of these service programs reflect the deep commitment to public service on the part of the entire university community; faculty service is a cultural and institutional expectation, student service requirements are a part of the core curriculum, and students often plan and execute their service work themselves, with assistance from the staff of the offices dedicated to service-learning.