Campus & Community

University community exceeds service goals in sesquicentennial challenge

The University of Denver’s 1864 Service Challenge came to a close in March 2015 with nearly 400,000 hours of community service from the DU community — more than double the original goal.

One of many facets of the University’s 150th anniversary celebration throughout 2014, the initiative urged 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. It ended with a whopping 385,832 hours logged for the year, including more than 10,000 hours contributed by individual alumni and alumni teams. Projects included a DU Global Brigades service trip to rural Nicaragua, University Advancement’s cleanup and painting day at the Washington Street Community Center, and alumni service to organizations including Habitat for Humanity and Food Bank of the Rockies.

“The 1864 Service Challenge exemplifies one of the most enduring expressions of our vision to serve the public good: the dedication to community service by our students, faculty, staff, trustees and alumni,” says Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. “Our community embodies DU’s vision through the work and scholarship that contribute to the greater good. Serving the public good will always be a part of who we are at the University of Denver.”

Cathy Grieve, DU’s executive director of conferences, events and special community programs, conceived of the challenge in 2013. Grieve says she is impressed by the number of hours logged by the DU community — but notes that a similar effort is made each and every year.

“I think what it says is there’s a commitment to the public good here,” Grieve says. “What the 1864 Service Challenge did was to give us a framework by which we can see the contributions of the entire University community — from the Board of Trustees to alumni and everybody in between.”

One of the students who tracked his hours for the challenge is Brian Ketterman, now a junior biology and psychology major. He joined his fellow members in DU’s Pioneer Leadership Program (PLP) to create a class that teaches parents in a low-income Denver neighborhood the importance of reading to their children.

This year, Ketterman is volunteering at Swedish Hospital near DU; he also tutors kids once a week at a local elementary school. It’s all a continuation, he says, of the PLP’s focus on community service, which starts with a required service project in a student’s first year on campus.

“At first it’s required and everybody [in PLP] has to do it,” he says. “It’s just something you have to do — a hoop you have to jump though. But it’s cool to see everybody who stuck with it. We are definitely at a point where we don’t have to keep doing what we’re doing, but lots of people I know from the first year are still at the same place, just because they like it so much. I think a lot of people realize how important it is to give back a little bit.”

Grieve agrees, adding that the sentiment extends to staff, faculty and alumni.

“It’s a wide spectrum,” she says, “and it really paints a picture of the University community as a whole committing itself to the public good.”





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