46 Years of Service . . . in one Year!

Editor's note: Meghan Eliason, director of the Center for Intercultural Learning and Community Engagement at St. Thomas, contributed this guest column to The Scroll.

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you’?”
– William A. Ward

“525,600 minutes … how do you measure a year?”
– Jonathan Larson, “Rent”

405,776 hours: the amount of community involvement time contributed by University of St. Thomas students (at least 7,440 of them) during the 2008-09 academic year … equal to 46 years of service around the clock.


During the recent holiday weekend, many of our thoughts focused on thanks and giving … and now as we move into the full holiday season, we also are typically inspired to reflect on the year and quantify how we spent our time. What was most significant and meaningful in our past 365 days? How have we shown appreciation? How much of our time and talents have we shared with others?

I have certainly spent time contemplating these impressive student community involvement statistics above that my office, the Center for Intercultural Learning and Community Engagement (CILCE), collected recently for a national President’s Community Service Honor Roll application. Reading about these efforts and commitment fills me with amazement and pride about all that our students do to give back. And we know that not only St. Thomas students but also our staff and faculty members are extremely involved in our community and answer the call to service on a regular basis.

These impressive numbers, however, do not tell the whole story. We know that there is so much more to be captured, but we have not been able to gather data from all campus groups and departments. If we have not been in touch with you to learn about student, faculty, and staff service efforts, please contact us (cilce@stthomas.edu) so we may recognize and celebrate your work. We want to support your projects and help St. Thomas deepen its community impact in the future.

As we close out the year and think about gifts, giving and meaningful ways to spend our time, please join me in congratulating our students on an outstanding demonstration of commitment to the community. I hope they inspire you as much as they motivate me to live out our university’s vision and mission to serve the common good.

We also want to acknowledge and thank all of the faculty and staff who helped to make these student contributions possible and are equally dedicated to their own service endeavors. The staff of CILCE is grateful for your dedication, and I am proud to work at an institution that values such levels of community engagement.