Oberlin College has received a $3 million gift to endow in perpetuity the operation of the Center for Service and Learning. President Nancy S. Dye established the center two years ago as part of her plan to make Oberlin College a more vital part of Lorain County. Her concept was to provide a clearing house through which community agencies, schools, and organizations could enlist the services of students, many of whom were volunteering their time under the auspices of several different programs. An anonymous gift made at that time helped to lay the groundwork for the project
Last year nearly 1000 Oberlin College students and faculty were involved in an estimated 48,000 hours of service to local schools, nonprofit organizations and government agencies, and that number will increase significantly as the center expands its outreach. Under the direction of Daniel Gardner '89, special assistant to the president for community service, Oberlin's volunteer activity has risen from an average rate of participation to a rate that ranks the school among the top 10 percent of U.S. colleges performing community service, according to an independent study. Among the recent projects undertaken through the center are:
Jane and Eric Nord, whose civic awareness and generosity have enhanced the public good in many areas of Lorain County, made the five-year pledge to the center in October. In acknowledging the donation, Dye said, "The Nords, like those of us at Oberlin, believe in the power of individuals to shape their own lives, to make their own history, and to bring about meaningful social change. Thanks to their generous gift, Oberlin students now and in the future will be able to participate fully in the life of our community and in our nation."
The Nords' five-year pledge is the largest outright gift from a living donor in the history of the College, says Young Dawkins, vice president of development and alumni affairs. The donation is one of the most thoughtful acts of philanthropy I've ever been associated with," he says. Generations of students and residents will experience a positive difference in their lives because of this kindness."
For Oberlin students, a college education has always included an education in citizenship, says Dye. Students are encouraged to offer not only their existing skills, but to develop new ones that will be of use to the community-at-large, and "to apply them in ways to bring about change, and to solve social problems--the most effective way of learning," she says.
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