A group of Lee students last brought national prominence to our community in early June when the university’s baseball team finished second in the NAIA College World Series. It was a tremendous performance, one that was followed a few short weeks later with Cleveland First Baptist Church announcing Lee University had agreed to purchase the church’s downtown facilities for $5 million as the congregation prepares to move to its new sanctuary on Stuart Road.
Last week, the school made us proud again.
Thanks in part to its students completing 60,000 hours of volunteer service, Lee University has been named one of only a handful of Presidential Awardees in the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a recognition conveyed by President Barack Obama through the Corporation for National and Community Service. Only six schools were named to this prestigious award: Ohio Wesleyan University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Emory & Henry College (Virginia), Raritan Valley Community College (New Jersey), Willamette University (Oregon) and Lee.
This is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
Lee’s diverse student body, hundreds of whom have traveled to Cleveland to pursue their post-secondary education from far-away states and distant continents, earned this latest recognition for its projects aimed at poverty relief, food collection and distribution, and helping students with autism and other developmental disabilities. And let us not forget local students attending the downtown university. We are told the number of area high school graduates choosing Lee University over much larger schools continues to increase, year after year. Their volunteerism greatly aided in this latest award.
The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is an annual list compiled of schools nationwide, generally recognizing each college or university for its students’ service efforts.
Lee is not only a member of this 700-plus broader Honor Roll, it is also a member of an elite subgroup of 100 recognized with distinction, and, as said, is a top honoree as one of the six Presidential Awardees. Lee is also the first Tennessee campus to be named a Presidential Awardee. The six 2009 Presidential Awardee recipients were honored in two categories: General Community Service, which considers the scope and quality of an institution’s community service, service-learning and civic engagement programs; and Service to Youth From Disadvantaged Circumstances.
Lee’s award came in the General Community Service category.
On hand to receive the student body’s award was Mike Hayes, vice president for Student Development, who attended the 2010 National Conference in New York City. The presentations were made in an evening banquet at Radio City Music Hall.
Congratulations Lee University and your 4,000-plus student body! You have excelled again!
We thank you for your excellence, for your sense of community and for your endearing commitment to those around you.