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University recognized for Katrina relief efforts

by Sherry Fisher - November 6, 2006

The University of Connecticut was one of nine colleges and universities in the nation to receive a Katrina Compassion Award for excellence in hurricane relief service, placing it on the first-ever President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

UConn was the only institution in Connecticut to receive the award.

The University was also one of 141 colleges and universities nationwide named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for General Community Service.

"This is wonderful news and a great credit to all involved in the Katrina relief efforts," says Veronica Makowsky, vice provost for undergraduate education and regional campus administration.

"In addition to demonstrating the compassion and hard work of UConn students, it's an example of the kind of engaged experiential learning that we would like as an enrichment opportunity for every UConn student."

Matthew Farley, coordinator for community outreach, says, "We should be proud of the work we've done thus far. This recognition should strengthen our resolve to continue to engage in meaningful service with our local, national, and international communities."

Students, faculty, and staff from across the University came together to support victims of Hurricane Katrina.

UConn students from 20 community service, social, and academic organizations established the Hurricane Katrina Relief Student Organization to raise funds for Katrina relief.

An estimated 1,000 students participated in fund-raising projects for hurricane relief, contributing an estimated 11,000 hours of service.

Using a variety of creative techniques, including the donation of student dining hall meals, the group raised $75,000 in the fall 2005 semester alone, and filled two buses with donated relief goods that were delivered to hurricane victims.

Students who returned from a University-sponsored service trip to Mississippi in January created the UConn Relief Corps to support continued Gulf Coast direct relief work.

The group organized and led two trips to New Orleans during spring break and during the summer.

Students cleaned, painted, or gutted 19 homes, contributing a total of 3,700 service hours, and saving residents an estimated $132,000.

Using a service-learning approach, in 2005-06, the University's Community Outreach office organized a trip to Mississippi during winter break and a trip to New Orleans during spring break, in which 3,800 hours of relief service were contributed by 100 students and staff.

Those trips will take place again this year.

Six institutions received top recognition for extraordinary community service - three for aiding hurricane victims along the Gulf Coast and three for helping close neighbors.

Nine other institutions, including UConn, received the Katrina Compassion Awards for helping Gulf Coast communities recover; 10 were named finalists for general community service, and 141 were recognized for distinguished community service. In total, 492 schools were recognized on the Honor Roll.

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is co-sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the U.S. Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USA Freedom Corps, and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

The recognition is presented in cooperation with Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,000 college and university presidents, and supported by all the major national higher education associations.

The award presentations came a day after the Corporation for National and Community Service released a study showing college student civic engagement has risen significantly in recent years.

Using data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the study showed that student volunteering increased about 20 percent from 2002 to 2005, and that 3.3 million college students serve their communities and nation.

The study showed that college students between ages 16 to 24 are more likely to volunteer than others in that age group who are not enrolled in an educational institution.

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