Having already started to incorporate community service into the regular coursework of its students, San Diego State University has added its name to a growing list of colleges and universities challenging all institutions of higher education to rededicate efforts to serve their respective communities.
SDSU President Stephen L. Weber has signed The Presidents' Fourth of July Declaration on the Civic Responsibility of Higher Education, written by a team of national education leaders, that admonishes institutions to "reexamine (their) public purposes and commitments to the democratic ideal . . . to become engaged, through actions and teaching, with its communities."
Governor Gray Davis recently proposed all California college and university students be required to perform community service as part of their degree requirements.
"Working harder to become an even greater resource to our region is one of the most sacred obligations we have," Weber said. "We have developed strong working relationships with many segments of our community , and we are rededicating ourselves to the effort."
Weber said SDSU has already begun to fulfill its obligation to the pact. In addition to the 1997 Economic Impact report that calculated University students, faculty and staff contribute more than 1.2 million hours per year to a wide variety of causes, he pointed to the University's Center for Community-Based Service Learning (CCBSL) as a manifestation of that commitment.
CCBSL interim coordinator Peggy Hashemipour said more than 200 faculty have already expressed interest in incorporating community service into their classes.
"We are here to assist faculty in making community service part of their class coursework, while at the same time helping individual students and student organizations identify places in the community where their good intentions can be put to work. The CCBSL will be an organizing force for existing community outreach programs on campus and facilitate collaboration between these departments."
Hashemipour is careful to point out the CCBSL is not merely a clearinghouse for those people looking to volunteer time to a worthwhile cause.
"We are working to establish partnerships, reciprocal relationships with the community," Hashemipour said. "We're teaching and we're learning, too. SDSU students involved in CCBSL classes are out in the community helping make safe, healthy and connected San Diego communities. After graduation, alumni will carry the experience with them, and apply what they've learned."
San Diego State University is the oldest and largest higher education institution in the San Diego region. Since it was founded as a teacher-training program in 1897, it has grown to offer bachelor's degrees in 76 areas, master's degrees in 58 areas and doctorates in 11. The more than 30,000 students participate in an academic curriculum distinguished by direct contact with professors and an increasing international emphasis that prepares them for a global future.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News