Service projects put NKU on honor roll

Recently at the American Council on Education’s 95th Annual Meeting Leading Change, NKU was, for the sixth time, named one of the recipients of The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The Community Service Honor Roll, which began in 2006, highlights the active roll colleges and universities play in community service and public engagement.

“Receiving the honor this many times speaks that we don’t just do this [public engagement] as a fad, we do this as a commitment,” said Mark Neikirk, director of Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement.

NKU applied for the honor using three key projects.

One was professor Willie Elliott’s dual-credit philanthropy course at nearby Dixie Heights High School. In this project, students receiving both high school and college credit were given the task of awarding $2,000 to an agency that was in need.

The students themselves conducted interviews with various agencies, and once they decided on the agencies, the students presented the checks directly to the representatives from those agencies, explained Elliott. They ultimately awarded $1,000 to Green Dot, which teaches kids how to respond to violence, and $1,000 to the Brighton Center in Newport, Ky., which funded a summer camp for kids.

“It really extends our reach into the community,” Elliott said.

The second project highlighted was NKU’s tornado relief project. After devastating tornadoes tore through our region in March 2012, various campus partners collected food and personal items, raised money and even participated in cleanup for those affected by the storms.

“This was a great collaboration that wasn’t for any credit, and proved great teamwork due to it being an unplanned and unexpected event,” Neikirk said.

The final project was the Northern Kentucky Research Collaborative, which showed a partnership between NKU nursing students and local area hospitals. While assisting others it also provided valuable “learn by doing” skills, Neikirk explained.

This year’s recognition means a lot to the university and especially to individuals involved in the projects.

“At this stage in my career it’s about what can I do for others, not just for me. Recognition just helps further the proof that Northern has always been committed to the community,” Elliot said.

Neikirk sees not only the benefits to the community but the benefits to NKU as well.

Recognition of the work and continued public engagement helps both student and faculty retention. The ability to help others can impact students deciding where to attend and faculty, like Elliott, who wish to assist the community and are interested in schools for their active public engagement.

Neikirk is proud of this year’s projects and confident that in the years to come, NKU will vigorously continue their commitment to public engagement and be named to this honor roll yet again.

“We’d do it even if there wasn’t an award,” Neikirk said.