June 15, 2004
Required Service for College Students
You may have seen the Sunday op-ed in the New York Times calling for campuses to consider a “service requirement for graduation.” It’s by the novelist Dave Eggers, author of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.” He says “some” colleges now do this.
Indeed. I’m writing just to make sure you know that a year ago Pace University was among the few major universities to make community service a full requirement for all students.
If you follow up on the trend to service requirements, or on the still-increasing trend for students to do collegiate service in general, we’ve got not only examples, but also evaluations.
Service here is linked to classes from math to media. Subject areas run from holiness to hemlock; service venues from gritty urban courts and AIDS centers to the church that wanted help with a museum about work done there by the first American-born Roman-Catholic saint, Mother Seton. Students have to analyze and reflect on the implications of what they are doing.
The requirement reflects Pace’s encouragement of participatory citizenship under President David A. Caputo, a Yale-trained political scientist who took over in July 2000. Additional impetus comes from Pace’s role as one of the 10 private colleges and universities that a year ago founded Project Pericles, a nationwide, nonprofit consortium of campuses that are increasing their students’ readiness for participatory citizenship. The project was envisioned and initially funded by the foundation set up by the industrialist and philanthropist Eugene M. Lang, creator of the “I Have a Dream” project.
Christopher T. Cory, Director of Public Information, Pace University 212-346-1117, cell 917-608-8164, email@example.com