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Sarah Unruh ’12

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Bethel named to community service honor roll

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) on March 4 announced its annual honor roll of the U.S. colleges and universities, including Bethel College, whose students, faculty members and staff have demonstrated their commitment to bettering their communities through community service and service learning.

Bethel was one of six Kansas higher education institutions and one of four Kansas private colleges named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Nationwide, there were 695 colleges and universities on the list.

Bethel made the honor roll based on values and actions. One of Bethel’s core values, as stated in the college’s mission statement, is “an ethic of service that deems concern for the powerless to be intrinsic to the Christian gospel and stresses peacemaking and voluntary service.”

This value becomes concrete in annual service events that include, among others, the campus Service Day, a spring break service trip and participation in Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Harvey County and the Angel Tree project to benefit the Harvey County Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Task Force’s safe house, along with individual and group service projects that happen more spontaneously throughout the school year.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the initiative celebrates the transformative power and volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.

Bethel College has applied to the honor roll every year except one since it was initiated in 2006 and has qualified every time it applied.

“Communities are strengthened when we all come together, and we are encouraged that these institutions and their students have made service a priority,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Civic engagement should be a key component of every student’s education experience. Through reaching out to meet the needs of their neighbors, these students are deepening their impact, strengthening our democracy and ultimately preparing themselves to be successful citizens.”

College students make a significant contribution to their communities through volunteering and service, according to the most recent Volunteering and Civic Life in America report. In 2012, 3.1 million college students dedicated more than 118 million hours of service across the country – a contribution valued at $2.5 billion.

“Across the nation, in the communities in which HUD works, I’ve seen many students who have committed themselves to assisting individuals and strengthening neighborhoods,” said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. “HUD congratulates these institutions and is honored to be part of this effort that recognizes colleges and their students for putting the common good before personal gain.”

CNCS manages the program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education and Campus Compact.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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