For the second year in a row, St. Ambrose University has been honored nationally for helping its students engage in community service projects.
The private Catholic university in Davenport was one of nearly 650 colleges and universities included on the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, commended by President Barack Obama for supporting volunteerism, service-learning and civic engagement.
This is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to community service, according to the Corporation
for National and Community Service, which has administered the honor roll since 2006.
"It's a part of our mission, and actually, it has been from the very beginning," the Rev. Chuck Adam, campus ministry director and chaplain at St. Ambrose University, said as he talked about the school's Catholic mission of teaching students about "loving God and loving neighbor."
"It's kind of a natural fit," he said.
More than 850 higher-education institutions applied to be included on the list, and about 650 were recognized. Among those included, 511 were named to the honor roll, 114 received the recognition of Honor Roll with Distinction, 11 were identified as finalists and six received the Presidential Award.
Adam said St. Ambrose has helped sponsor a wide range of service projects and activities over the past academic year.
"It's wonderful in helping students discover their own talents," he said. "We've had students decide on a major, discover their vocation and how they can be of service to others."
A release issued by the university shows student-athletes provided 7,700 hours of local community service and SAU Up 'til Dawn raised $13,000 for the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
More than 500 students - including more than 90 percent of incoming freshmen - volunteered 1,300 hours of simultaneous service across the Quad-Cities during Urban Plunge, a community service event planned for the students' first day on campus in the fall, Adam said.
Several students spent their winter semester break on the Bread Truck, a mobile soup kitchen serving meals to the poor and homeless of Chicago, while many professors incorporate volunteer hours and service to community as a part of their curriculum.
Mary Harmon, 21, a senior biology and English major at St. Ambrose, said she went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, during her fall semester break to help with flood cleanup. She spent spring break in East St. Louis to volunteer in the poor community.
And when Harmon is on campus, the Brimfield, Ill., native is involved in the music ministry, she said.
She said she wants to "give back" to the community and is glad to attend a university where so many other students feel the same and "make it a priority."
"I'm really glad it brings a positive light to things that are happening in the Quad-Cities," Harmon said. "There's so much more to be done, but it's exciting we're making progress."