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Niagara University is recognized for service to the community

LEWISTON – For the ninth straight year, Niagara University has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The honor is in recognition of NU’s leadership in community service, service learning and civic engagement.

A Catholic and Vincentian institution, NU is the only college or university from Western New York to have made the national list every year since it was launched in 2006.

“Service and higher education go hand in hand,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which manages the award in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Housing and Urban Development. “These schools are inspiring young leaders to roll up their sleeves and work alongside community members to solve problems.”

As part of NU’s Vincentian heritage, service learning is a core component of the undergraduate curriculum.

Students participate collectively in more than 1,000 hours of community service each week during the academic year.

In September 2011, NU established the Rev. Joseph Levesque Institute for Civic Engagement as a way of centralizing its many service programs, including Learn and Serve Niagara, ReNU Niagara and Border Community SERVICE.

Niagara is currently involved in a poverty-focused social entrepreneurship competition in which students propose a sustainable and impactive way to address hunger and food access in Niagara Falls.

NU also hosts the Western New York Service Learning Coalition, a collaboration of regional colleges, universities and community-based organizations. The coalition places students in service learning with organizations and strengthens the experience by providing professional development for faculty members who integrate service learning into their core curricula.

The Rev. James J. Maher, president of NU, said the university is grateful for the recognition.

“Niagarans are utilizing their God-given talents to assist those living on the edges of society,” Maher said.

In addition to community service recognition, NU also was recognized in the category of education for its Niagara County Early Child Care Quality Improvement Project.

The program was launched in 2010 as a way to enhance the quality of care in child care centers and improve the readiness of children entering preschool and kindergarten. It was created in partnership with United Way of Greater Niagara, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Niagara Area Foundation and local business leaders.

“The importance of high-quality education from a very young age cannot be understated,” said Debra Colley, dean of NU’s College of Education. “This partnership is changing the landscape of child care delivery in Western New York.”