The standout college for public service in Kansas is McPherson College – the only college in Kansas named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction.

The standout college for public service in Kansas is McPherson College – the only college in Kansas named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. After all, the concept of service is central to the college’s mission statement: “Scholarship, Participation, Service.”

The Corporation for National and Community Service names the Honor Roll members annually, and McPherson College was named as a member with distinction for 2010 – one of just 114 colleges nationwide and the only institution in Kansas to receive this high honor, compared with the 511 colleges and universities named to the honor roll, one level under “With Distinction.” This is the third consecutive year the college has been recognized for its service.

Tom Hurst, director of campus ministry, cited a number of reasons that helped lead to the recognition. In the 2009-2010 academic year, four out of every five McPherson College students participated in at least one service opportunity. More than 15 percent of students served with more than five projects or gave more than 50 hours of service or both. Overall, students, faculty and staff logged more than 7,800 hours of service, an increase of 2,300 from the previous year.

“A life well-lived is a life that focuses not only on personal happiness but a life that understands that offering a helping hand and working beside those who need assistance is the way to a balanced, joyful and fulfilling life,” Hurst said.

Other aspects of service at McPherson College are a service scholarship of up to $4,000 to student who demonstrates a commitment to service in their lives, a strong service component to the freshman and sophomore seminar classes, and a variety of service opportunities made available through the college. These include international service trips, such as a recent trip to help polio victims in Ethiopia; spring break service trips, such as recent service trips to work with a Navajo Mission in Lybrook, New Mexico and to help rebuild flooded houses in Ashland City, Tenn. (  and on-campus opportunities, such as a recent  event to pack more than 20,000 meals for people in Haiti through Numana (

“McPherson College encourages learning through doing good,” said President Michael Schneider. “When students see how a small action can make a huge positive difference for someone in need, they start to think about how they will go out and shape the world around them for the better. We’re thankful for this honor and the affirmation that we’re doing the right thing.”

Started in 2006, the Honor Roll recognizes outstanding, innovative and effective community service at colleges and universities across the nation. The Corporation for National and Community service oversees the Honor Roll, collaborating with the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honor roll recipients are selected based on the size and innovation of service, the proportion of students who participate in service, incentives given for service and the offering of academic courses on service-learning. The corporation is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Barack Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

Sarah Neher, junior, Rochester, Minn., has volunteered on the cabinet of MacPAC, which works to promote peace through advocacy and service. She has also volunteered for the Regional Youth Conference of the Church of the Brethren. Neher said she grew up volunteering and McPherson College’s emphasis on service in academics has reinforced the importance and helped her to see the value of her education.

“You get way more out of it when you volunteer than what you put in,” she said.

Melisa Grandison, senior, Quinter, Kan., received a service award and put in more than 300 hours of volunteer service in the 2010-2011 academic year as president and founder of MacPAC, CROP Walk to help fight world hunger and an oral history project that paired McPherson College students with elders in the community to help tell their story. Grandison said that the college has both provided volunteer opportunities then encouraged people to participate. In her college experience, Grandison said she has seen service go from being an important aspect of the college to being a defining characteristic.

“I think we have definitely succeeded in making it part of the essence of the college,” she said.

Tori Carder, sophomore, Eudora, Kan., also received a service award for more than 440 hours of service for 12 different projects or organizations, many of them involving working with children. The emphasis on service at McPherson College was one of the drawing points for her when she was choosing a college, and her service has helped reinforce her desire to help with youth.

“You learn a lot about yourself,” Carder said of volunteer service. “I like to think that I’ve made a difference in the lives of people, even if it’s just for a little bit of time.”