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University receives award for service

Carolina Wilson | Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Corporation for National and Community Service honored Notre Dame with a place on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. 

Jay Caponigro, director of community engagement, said this honor is a reflection of the University’s mission to promote the common good. 

“Community engagement is a constitutive element of Notre Dame’s mission and day-to-day functioning,” Caponigro said. 

Caponigro said University President Fr. John Jenkins encourages the campus community to engage in service, providing many resources for the University to foster this engagement. “In his inaugural address, Fr. John Jenkins renewed the commitment of the University’s founder, Fr. Edward Sorin, stating that ‘this college will be one of the most powerful means for doing good in this country,'” Caponigro said. 

The University provides a large amount of resources to provide security in the community. The Center for Social Concerns (CSC) facilitates community-based learning and has 30 full-time staff members. Its annual budget is over $3.5 million. In addition to CSC, the Robinson Community Learning Center also serves thousands in nearby communities.

Both organizations offer students the opportunity to participate in service learning projects. Junior Denise Azores-Gococo decided to participate in the CSC’s International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP) this.summer.

He will volunteer his time in El Salvador and will be working to bring healthcare to mothers and young children in rural areas of the country

“The Notre Dame community and environment has motivated me and sparked my interest in doing things in which I can give of myself to others,” Azores-Gococo said.  

Caponigrotsaid Notre Dame’s commitment to service is engrained in students even after they graduate.

“Over 80 percent of Notre Dame students annually report participation in service learning or service,” Caponigro said.  The ethos of service continues after graduation: approximately 10 percent of each year’s class spends a year or more in full-time volunteer service after graduation.

Caponigro said the distinction of being named o  the President’s Honor Roll increases the public’s awareness of the contributions Notre Dame faculty, staff and students make to local communities and the nation at large. Caponigro said he hopes this recognition will inspire others universities to become engaged in community service. 

“I think that recognition promotes additional [community service] engagement, and holds universities more accountable to achieve meaningful impact, in collaboration with our communities,” Caponigro said. ” We need to continue to support this engagement at all levels, and measure the impact(on students and community partners whenever possible.”