College presidents declare commitment for a service year
SUMMARY: Virginia universities have been a dedicated partner in this movement and have an essential role to play in the creation of service opportunities and the incentivizing of service with academic credits and potential financial aid.
“Service is a part of your DNA,” First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe remarked as she welcomed guests to the President’s Summit for the Service Year at James Madison University on Feb. 9. In reading aloud the mission statements of many of Virginia’s higher education institutions, she noted that the majority sought to mold enlightened citizens who are engaged with the world. She then asserted that a service year would formalize the application of these ideals and visions.
The Service Year Alliance has three goals: create one million service year positions, incentivize young people to participate in service, and make national service a rite of passage and an expectation. Public service, they believe, will connect people to something bigger than themselves and develop true citizenship.
Virginia universities have been a dedicated partner in this movement and have an essential role to play in the creation of service opportunities and the incentivizing of service with academic credits and potential financial aid. The summit culminated with the signing of a compact formally declaring commitment to the service year by presidents and provosts from James Madison University, College of William and Mary, Averett University, Eastern Mennonite University and Blue Ridge Community College. Other college presidents will be invited to sign the compact.
The compact seeks to include public, private and community colleges and allows for a great deal of flexibility in the ways in which educational institutions use their student bodies, community partnerships and resources to construct a service year experience.
Because service is already so deeply embedded into higher education, the initiative also aims to employ advanced data collection techniques to audit existing service opportunities, identify thriving programs and measure progress towards shared goals. As Taylor Reveley of William and Mary stated, “We need a winsome gaggle of data… to tell a story about Virginia.”
As higher education leaders from across the state prepared to return to their respective campuses, Jonathan Alger of James Madison University shared his hope that all will work to “continually reflect on how service impacts our fundamental missions,” and envision the tremendous impact that a service year would have on the future of citizenship.
Virginia has also taken the lead as the first state in the nation to be designated an Employer of National Service. Mrs. McAuliffe commented that Gov. McAuliffe would like to make Virginia a leader in the implementation of the service year, and develop a model for application that can be used by other states. To learn more about the service year, visit: www.franklinproject.org.
Published: Thursday, February 11, 2016
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 9, 2016