RICHMOND – First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe invited college and university presidents across Virginia to gather at the Governor’s mansion to celebrate the Commonwealth’s commitment to service years in higher education. The event recognized the over 50 higher education institutions, including all Virginia public colleges and community colleges, that have signed on to Virginia’s “Compact on National Service” — making Virginia the first state in the nation where the higher education community has come together to commit to integrating service years on their campuses.
Each of these institutions has committed to adopting at least one of the tactics outlined in Service Year Alliance’s “Service Year + Higher Education Engagement Opportunities Toolkit.” Commitments include creating service year opportunities for undergraduate or graduate students, linking service years to academic credit, and valuing and encouraging service years through admissions, financial aid, careers services, or designations on diplomas or graduation certificates.
“We are proud that the Commonwealth is leading the way by making a service year part of what it means to participate in higher education in Virginia,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, while addressing the college presidents. “We are honored to be the first state in the nation to become an Employer of National Service, and it’s no surprise that our first-rate educational institutions are continuing to lead by making a commitment to support service year opportunities.”
Mrs. McAuliffe was joined by Dr. Tiffany Franks of Averett University, Dr. Cheryl Thompson-Stacy of Lord Fairfax Community College, and Jonathan R. Alger of James Madison University — leaders at the forefront of this effort to embrace initiatives on their campuses and across Virginia that instill a service ethic in their cultures and support service year opportunities for their students.
“We have come together today to support the idea that Virginia institutions of higher education can help prepare students for a service year,” said Dr. Tiffany Franks of Averett University who will host Virginia’s upcoming summit on Service Years and Higher Education on October 7, 2016. “Our Commonwealth has a responsibility to promote learning communities where long-lasting relationships among diverse individuals can be established, and we strongly believe that the service year experience can bring students together to develop valuable skills, solve local problems, and foster lifelong habits of civic participation.”
Averett University, along with Virginia Tech, were finalists at Service Year Alliance’s “Service Year +Higher Ed Innovation Challenge” in April. Both universities were invited to participate in a Challenge Day at The Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., pitch their innovative idea for incorporating a service year on their campuses, and compete for $70,000 in prizes.
"Colleges and universities in Virginia are setting the pace for the nation in engaging higher education in national service. More students will now have opportunities to serve their communities, reduce the costs of college, and link learning to life," said John Bridgeland, Vice Chair of Service Year Alliance and former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
Service Year Alliance is a bipartisan organization committed to making a year of full-time service — a service year — a common expectation and opportunity for young Americans of all backgrounds. For more information about Service Year Alliance’s efforts to engage higher education institutions around service year opportunities please visit www.ServiceYR.org or contact Dr. Jenna Dell: firstname.lastname@example.org.