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UAlbany Recognized Nationally for Community Involvement and Student Engagement

Janine Jurkowski, center, associate professor in the School of Public Health, and Communities for Healthy Living co-principal investigator Kirsten Davison speak with a community member at a spring event of the Commission on Economic Opportunities, Capital District.

Albany, N.Y. (March 20, 2012) – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) named the University at Albany to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. UAlbany garnered the national recognition through efforts which included three programs addressing community issues and involving extensive student engagement: a community healthy living program; a peer-assistance counseling service; and an urban planning program.

CNCS recognized UAlbany and its students, faculty and staff for meaningful service that achieved measurable results in the community during the 2010-11 academic year. An estimated total of nearly 7,400 UAlbany students participated in community service through volunteer work, courses and internships. The three programs featured, all of which involve community partners, were:

  • Communities for Healthy Living (CHL). CHL is a community-based, participatory program involving both research and action initiated by the School of Public Health. Supported by a federal grant, it empowers families with children attending Head Start in Rensselaer County to reduce obesity and promote healthy lifestyles. In 2010-11, over 30 students, faculty and staff worked with 700 parents and children on educational activities.
Members of the Urban & Regional Planning group survey properties for improvement to Albany's South End
A group from the Urban and Regional Planning Program, joined by Roger Markovics of United Tenants of Albany (foreground) and Arlene Way of Arbor Hill Development Corporation (far left) study a tile manufacturing factory in Arbor Hill's Sheridan Hollow.

  • Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program (MEPA). Created in 1970, MEPA provides student-staffed and professionally supervised hotline services and peer education to the Albany region and beyond. In 2010-11, nearly 200 students and faculty assisted more than 870 individuals in the community with mental illness, alcohol/drug abuse and other issues. Counseling Center psychologists ensure service quality through School of Education courses.
  • Urban and Regional Planning Program in Arbor Hill and the South End. Nearly 30 years old, the program works to improve the quality of life in low-income communities through planning studios and course-based research. In 2010-11, 30 students dedicated more than 2,800 hours to two neighborhoods. They surveyed the needs of 35 businesses, and the conditions and use of 600 properties, as well as the quality/affordability of healthy foods in ten eateries.

UAlbany President George M. Philip lauded the CNCS designation. "This honor reflects the strong commitment of our students, faculty and staff as partners for improving community well-being whether, through research, teaching or service," said Philip. "It underscores the fact that student community service is an integral part of who we are as an institution."

CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education.

Nationally, 642 applicants were admitted to the 2012 Honor Roll. Honorees are chosen based on the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, a school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

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