At Samford University, community service is not just part of the culture; it’s actually built into the curriculum.
And Samford students’ already substantial involvement in community work at home and abroad continues to grow significantly, based on the annual Community Engagement and Impact Report the university began compiling three years ago.
According to the latest report from the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, Samford undergraduate and graduate students during the 2015-16 academic year performed 927,192 hours of off-campus community engagement work in a wide range of fields. That figure represents a 29 percent increase from the previous year.
“Community engagement is simply part of the university’s DNA,” said Mann Center director Drayton Nabers. “The experiences of students when engaged in community work will stay with them for a lifetime.”
This year’s report is the most detailed yet. While continuing to quantify students’ curricular and cocurricular community work, it contains additional information from the university’s 10 schools, colleges and multiple campus units that more fully reflects the mutual benefit of community engagement for students and communities.
The total value of the students’ community work last year was $21.4 million, based on the estimated value of volunteer time according to Independent Sector. That total consisted of 608,584 academic service hours tied directly to classes and an additional 318,609 service hours through cocurricular activities. Neither Samford nor its students received any reimbursement for these services.
“We hope this year’s report will inform a common university vision and community engagement strategy,” said Allison Heidbrink Nanni, Samford’s director of community engagement.
With more than 295 courses that integrated community engagement as an academic component, Nanni said the university worked with hundreds of community partners and other nongovernment organizations around the world that span initiatives in the arts, ministry, athletics, youth services, education and legal fields, environmental justice, and the health care industry, to name a few.
“Measuring impact can be difficult,” Nanni admitted. “Our hope is that the findings drive our day-to-day decisions. We want to leverage Samford’s human and financial resources to maximize benefit both for our students and for the citizens living in the broader region and around the world.”
Examples of community engagement initiatives during 2015–16 included:
- Brock School of Business students assisted Birmingham’s Christian Service Mission to build a house in a marginalized area of Birmingham through an economics and poverty studies course.
- Interior architecture students integrated faith and scholarship to design a medical clinic in India through Design Education for World Impact.
- First-year law students donated 430 service hours in several Birmingham nonprofit agencies during orientation through the Cumberland Public Interest Project.
- Graduate students in the university’s new Doctor of Physical Therapy program served on a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic.
Samford’s overall economic impact on the region is $335 million.
Republished with permission of Alabama NewsCenter.