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UMPI’s Social Work Program receives President’s Leadership Award

The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Social Work Program recently was honored by the Maine Campus Compact as the recipient of the President’s Campus Leadership Award.

The President’s Leadership Award recognizes student organizations and campus departments for their contributions to community service, service-learning and civic engagement efforts on their campuses. Founded in 1994, the Maine Campus Compact is a coalition of 17 member campuses whose purpose is to “catalyze and lead a movement to reinvigorate the public purposes and civic mission of higher education,” according to its website.

In order to receive the award, student organizations and campus departments must demonstrate: their use of service as an integral part of the college experience for students; an innovative approach to enhancing campus-based efforts to address community issues and needs; efforts to sustain their work by developing strategies to integrate into the institution’s structure; and a deep, widespread impact on the campus and the community.

Service is an important part of what students do when they participate in the Social Work Program at UMPI and its Student Organization of Social Work [SOSW], explained Shirley Rush, Associate Professor of Social Work and Bachelor of Social Work Program Director. Instructors and advisors encourage students to serve their communities through field practice, service learning and volunteering. Through their fundraising efforts, students have been able to contribute to local organizations, such as the Hope and Justice Project and the Sister Mary O’Donnell Temporary Shelter for the Homeless.

Through the Social Work Program, students also have had the opportunity to participate in international service learning activities in Guatemala and Tanzania. By working together to complete funding goals, and the organization and implementation of these trips, students have been able to enhance their deep understanding of the value of community locally and globally. Students have also developed professional confidence and the conviction to live in service of others. Rush said the students’ involvement in efforts like this has many other benefits.

“As a direct result of four years of deep and sustained fundraising and service learning activities, campus and community members are asking how they can be involved in these important learning activities,” Rush said. “The local community benefits by investing in building the leadership of the region’s future and from learning about international relationships and culture. And, certainly, the individuals and communities who are served are impacted in many positive and enduring ways.”

All of these efforts led the Maine Campus Compact to recognize UMPI’s Social Work Program with the prestigious leadership award. The Maine Campus Compact’s Awards Ceremony was held at Bates College on April 20. Rush attended the event to accept the award on the program’s behalf.

This is the second time in recent years that UMPI has received recognition from the Maine Campus Compact. In 2010, the Criminal Justice Program, led by Dr. Lisa Leduc’s efforts, received this same award.

For more information about the Maine Campus Compact or the President’s Leadership Award, visit