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East Central University has been named to the 2007 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its contributions to service in the community.

ECU was one of 528 schools from across the country listed on the honor roll for its community service activities during the 2006-07 academic year. The awards were announced in San Diego, Calif., at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education.

Schools had to submit at least one exemplary project as an example of general community service and one in a special focus area, which this year was "service to youth from disadvantaged circumstances."

For general community service, Dr. Pat Fountain, professor of business administration and director of ECU's Service-Learning Program, wrote about the Annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner organized by ECU students that feeds about 3,000 people.

"For something in the special focus area," Fountain said, "I wrote about a project called 'An Introduction to Careers for Elementary Students' completed by a group in the Principles of Management Class."

Launched in 2006, the President's Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support innovative, effective and exemplary community service programs. Honorees for the various award levels were selected based on a series of factors, including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service and the extent to which the school offers service-learning courses.

The U.S. Department of Education has found a growing service-learning trend, with more schools offering service-learning as part of their curriculum. Beginning this year, ECU became the only public university in Oklahoma and one of the few in the country that embeds service-learning into the academic curriculum. All beginning freshmen included in the new 30-hour requirement which can be met by taking two regular courses with a service-learning designation.

"College students are tackling the toughest problems in America, demonstrating their compassion, commitment and creativity by serving as mentors, tutors, health workers, and even engineers," said Liz Seale, chief operating officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "They represent a renewed spirit of civic engagement fostered by outstanding leadership on caring campuses."

The Honor Roll is jointly sponsored by the corporation, through its Learn and Serve America program, and the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA Freedom Corps, Campus Compact and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Recent studies have underlined the importance of service-learning and volunteering to college students. In 2006, 2.8 million college students gave more than 297 million hours of volunteer service, according to the corporation's Volunteering in America 2007 study. Using Independent Sector's estimates of the value of volunteer time, college student volunteering was worth more than $5.6 billion last year.

The corporation's Learn and Serve America program is a catalyst for service-learning programs nationwide that connect community service with academic curriculum. Through these programs, in class and in extracurricular activities, college students serve others in their communities while strengthening their academic and civic skills.

In addition, service-learning fosters partnerships between colleges and their communities that strengthens communities and meets immediate community needs.

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