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University of Houston selected as 2016-2017 NASPA Lead Institution

The University of Houston is proud to have been selected as a member of the 2016-2017 NASPA Lead Initiative cohort. Out of the approximately 1,200 institutions that have a membership with NASPA, under 100 institutions have been selected as a Lead Institution. This group of institutions represents a network of colleges and universities with a deep commitment to promoting Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) opportunities for the students, the campus, and the community. Selection to this cohort was based on current civic engagement work and the areas of institutional focus for the coming year.

Under the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) provides opportunities for civic engagement and leadership development at the University of Houston. As a Lead Institution member, CSI staff will have the opportunity to participate in professional development, networking, and resource sharing with other Lead Institutions. Ultimately, this involvement will support the creation of new CLDE initiatives, and enhance the effectiveness of existing programs.

“This prestigious recognition places the University of Houston as a leader in civic engagement. It will provide us access into an elite consortium of institutions positively contributing to their surrounding communities and furthering democratic conversations. As a NASPA Lead Institution, the University of Houston and the Center for Student Involvement are committed to serving and impacting our campus, the city of Houston, and beyond.”

Keith T. Kowalka, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs

An initiative for the Center for Student Involvement is to elevate the conversation around CLDE and focus on campus-wide initiatives. Over the course of the last two years, CLDE programming has grown significantly at UH, engaging more of the student population each year. For the first time, CSI offered two alternative service break trips to Dallas, Texas to serve children with medical and developmental needs and to New Orleans, Louisiana to support continued Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Each year UH engages students, faculty and staff in service-based traditions in the local community by offering a large-scale Day of Service during August as part of Weeks of Welcome, and a second Day of Service in January in collaboration with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration. During the 2015-2016 academic year the Metropolitan Volunteer Program (MVP), a student organization at UH, hosted 93 events with 3,670 student participants resulting in over 5,000 volunteer hours in the local community. UH is a proud member of the Clinton Global Initiative University network - one of only 71 institutions worldwide that affords student leaders the opportunity to create a commitment focused on developing solutions to pressing global issues. In March 2016, UH had the opportunity to bring political engagement to the campus at the national level, through hosting a Republican Debate. For the second year in a row, UH was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, an honor presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service and 23 students earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award by serving a minimum of 100 hours within a 12-month timeframe.

“We are ecstatic to receive recognition on a national scale for the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement work the Center for Student Involvement is doing year after year. With the support of NASPA, we are able to strengthen our civic engagement efforts and better support our students, staff and campus community.”

Dr. Richard Walker, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services

This year, the Center for Student Involvement is excited to begin the process of assessing existing civic engagement initiatives and creating a clear plan with common institutional goals. As UH strives to enhance the student experience and have a positive impact on the community, our status as a NASPA Lead Institution will provide us with resources that will ensure our success. In partnership with the administration, faculty, staff, students, and the Houston community, the Center for Student Involvement looks forward to further developing civic engagement at UH.

More about the Center for Student Involvement: CSI provides involvement opportunities for students at the University of Houston main campus. The University of Houston’s diverse population ensures that there is a place for everyone, and The Center for Student Involvement helps each student find it. Over 500 student organizations are registered with CSI and it is the central location for leadership programs and civic engagement opportunities. Advising staff assist fee-funded groups with the event planning of campus events and traditions. The guidance and educational experiences offered by the department cultivates skills that will be useful for a lifetime.