At the University of Denver, community service is a way of life that starts with the University’s vision — to be a great private university dedicated to the public good — and continues through the lives of students, alumni, faculty and staff.
“Universities have choices about how they are going to connect with communities,” says Anne DePrince, director of the University’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL). “One choice is simply not to connect, and another choice is to say, ‘we have a lot of capacity on campus because of the people who are here, and getting out of your house and serving is bringing that capacity into action.’ You can contribute by doing service, and you also have this really unique opportunity to learn on the ground. Service is a way of continuing a DU education.”
As part of its sesquicentennial year celebration, the University is emphasizing service to communities via the 1864 Service Challenge, a web-centered initiative that urges Pioneers — students, alumni, faculty and staff— to join forces to shoot for a combined yearlong total of 186,400 service hours to reflect the University’s founding in 1864. Participants can log their hours—and track their individual or group totals—at the site, which is incorporated into the sesquicentennial website.
“I think one of the exciting things about the challenge would be the opportunity for somebody living far away from DU now to select a service topic that connects to something they were excited about in college, that they learned about here at DU, and then to brush up on what’s happening in that issue and take service as an opportunity to contribute to the community while continuing their DU education,” DePrince says. “Suddenly you have more than an individual in New Hampshire doing a service project; you have them connecting that to their whole DU education and extending that education far beyond the walls of campus.”