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March 21, 2012

Blinn College earns national recognition for community service

Blinn the only Texas community college named to President’s Honor Roll

Blinn College was one of just 23 colleges and universities in the state of Texas – and the only community college – to be named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The President's Honor Roll is the highest accolade an educational institution can receive from the federal government for its commitment to service and civic engagement. This marks the fifth time in the last six years that Blinn has been named to the President’s Honor Roll, a program begun by President George W. Bush and continued by President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Blinn College’s inclusion in this distinctive group is a testament to our mission to offer individual and community enhancement through educational excellence,” said Blinn College President Harold Nolte. “Our commitment to community engagement can be found in our curricular and co-curricular activities and in the diversity of courses we offer that are structured around community engagement.”

Blinn’s community service outreach programs are spearheaded by its Service Learning program, which combines community service with classroom instruction or student club activities, focusing on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility to engage students. Service Learning involves students in activities that address local needs while developing their academic or professional skills and commitment to their community.

Service Learning currently has projects within 19 communities across Blinn’s 13-county service area, and at the end of the  Fall 2011 semester Blinn students had documented more than 252,000 hours of community service, valued at more than $5 million by the Points of Light Foundation. Through the Service Learning program, Blinn students are currently partnering with local organizations, including Brenham Heritage Museum; Goodfellows of Washington County; HOSTS (Helping One Student to Succeed); United Way; Texas Parks and Wildlife; several cities’ chambers of commerce; the Brenham Animal Shelter; area schools; the Democratic and Republican parties of Austin, Brazos and Washington counties; the Star of the Republic Museum; the George W. Bush Presidential Library; Brazos County Juvenile Services and school districts from across Blinn’s service area.

In addition to being named to the President’s Honor Roll, Blinn received Carnegie Classification in January 2011 from the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching. That honor places Blinn among the top five percent of colleges and universities in the nation in terms of documented public service.

“Every year we are being compared against the very best the nation has to offer, and to come out this year as the only community college from Texas to be named to the President’s Community Service Honor Roll is a real feather in our cap,” said Dr. Greg Phillips, the director of Blinn’s Service Learning program. “It’s national recognition of the amount of effort and service that our faculty and students are giving back to the nation and their community.”
Blinn’s Service Learning program, which began in 2004, currently includes 57 projects, enterprises which are just as varied as Blinn’s curriculum. Blinn Spanish students participate in local elementary schools’ English as a Second Language programs, mentoring students who are learning English as a second language.

“Our students benefit and hone their Spanish skills while acting as role models for those elementary students making the transition to English,” said Phillips. “It’s a win for both our students and theirs.”

In Brazos County, Blinn’s dental hygiene students have a program called “Give a Kid a Smile,” which offers free teeth cleanings, while in Brenham the natural science classes are producing  biodiesel, demonstrating the process to local middle school science classes and then donating the fuel to the school district for its buses. The government classes on the Sealy campus are working with the local political parties, and in  Schulenburg English classes have worked closely with their Chamber of Commerce to publish a pictorial book highlighting the town.  
Blinn’s Service Learning projects also include annual events such as the Adopt-a-Beach program, in which Blinn students clean a stretch of Texas coastline, and the Blinn Blitz, a day devoted to service by Blinn’s Service Learning classes and many on-campus organizations.

The Blitz will be held on April 20 this year.

This semester, Blinn has 1,574 students enrolled in Service Learning courses on all four of its campuses.

“We are very proud of our faculty and our students for going the extra mile to make the communities they live in better,” said Dr. Ted Raspiller, the president of Blinn’s Brazos County campuses. “It’s a reflection of the leadership and character of our faculty and of the students who call Blinn College home.”