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UAlbany Celebrates Connect-to-Community Week

A student at the Community Engagement Fair shares information about the many community-engaged volunteer efforts UAlbany take part in each year.

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 15, 2013) -- The University at Albany recently concluded Connect-to-Community Week as part of its third annual Community Service Month. The initiative was designed to encourage volunteerism, advance University-community partnerships, and increase student and faculty involvement in community-based learning and research.

UAlbany students, faculty, and staff are already actively engaged in a wide range of community initiatives and this annual event serves as a spotlight for their efforts. This year, it also helped to raise awareness of President Robert J. Jones’ newly-announced goal for UAlbany to log over 2.5 million community engagement hours each year.

At the kick-off for Connect-to-Community Week, Student Association President Francis Agyemang joined President Jones in welcoming participants and remarking on the importance of community engagement at UAlbany. Jones said, “As part of my inaugural address, I stressed the importance of community engagement to achieving University goals. It is one of four key areas that will help us become the university of choice for students nationally, increase our benefit to society, and strengthen our capacity as a top-tier research institution.”

President Jones at Community Engagement event

President Jones welcomes visiting juniors and seniors from the Bronx Eagle Academy for Young Men who attended UAlbany's Community Engagement Fair to learn about volunteer and engagement opportunities.

The Community Engagement Fair, one of the signature events of the month, featured over 100 exhibitors in the Lecture Center concourse. They included faculty, staff, student organizations, and community partners, who shared information about their many community-engaged research projects as well as a wide array of volunteer opportunities for students. The fair built on the twice-annual event hosted by the Community and Public Service Program (CPSP), which offers students course credit for their long-term volunteer placements.

In addition to promoting volunteer opportunities for students, the Connect-to-Community Week calendar also featured an interactive workshop for faculty members on community-engaged research approaches. Led by a panel of UAlbany faculty experts, 30 participants had a chance to learn about ongoing projects utilizing best practices, get advice about incorporating these approaches in their own research, and network with others interested in conducting community-based work.

Student organizations also contributed to the success of Connect-to-Community Week and Community Service Month, sponsoring and coordinating a variety of service activities:

  • The Student Association organized the Pine Hills Neighborhood Clean-Up Day. More than 420 UAlbany students helped pick up litter and remove debris.
  • The World of Community Service, a living-learning community for incoming freshman, held its 3rd annual food drive for Club Zoe, bringing in more than 2,000 food items and $640 in donations.
  • Many other student organizations around campus competed to win a free trip to the Dippikill Retreat Center by organizing and documenting service activities.

Community Service Month highlights the importance of service and engagement efforts not only in October, but all year long. The hard work of UAlbany faculty, staff, and students has helped the University achieve designation on the U.S. President’s Higher Education Honor Roll for three consecutive years. Initiatives like the Volunteer UAlbany website, CPSP, and the President’s Awards for Exemplary Community Engagement emphasize the importance that community connections have within the culture of the University. Under President Jones’ leadership, UAlbany’s community engagement efforts will only continue to grow in scope and impact.

Connect-to-Community Week and Community Service Month is a joint initiative of the Office of the President, the Division of Student Success, the Division of Academic Affairs, the Community and Public Service Program, and the UAlbany Student Association, with additional sponsorship by the University Auxiliary Services and UAlbany Dining Services.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 17,500 students. An internationally recognized research university with 50 undergraduate majors and 125 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit http://www.albany.edu/. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.