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College Answers the Call for Interfaith Service

October 04, 2013

Jack Morris
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7240

Saint Anselm College President Dr. Steven R. DiSalvo recently attended an interfaith engagement summit in Washington D.C. aimed at promoting community service and religious cooperation among colleges and students nationwide.

The third annual event known as the President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge National Gathering, brought 20 faith-based colleges from around the country to the capital in an effort to encourage dialogue between colleges that are just beginning programs in interfaith/community service and those like Saint Anselm with longstanding traditions in this work. The program is led by Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core which aims to build religious pluralism across our nation's campuses using President Obama's "Challenge" to commit to a year of interfaith and community service programming.

"Service is a major driver to interfaith dialogue," said Dr. DiSalvo. "Many students do service work which is remarkable when you consider, for example, that you may have five students from five different religious backgrounds hammering nails into the same wall. When it comes to service work, it doesn't matter what faith or color you are."

The two-day event included a reception at the White House hosted by Interfaith Youth Corps followed by a luncheon at Georgetown University hosted by President John J. DeGioia as well as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who offered support for these initiatives. That support, for Saint Anselm College, will include direct conversations with the Interfaith Youth Core and potential training for the campus community.

In addition, Dr. DiSalvo raised the issue of the government's college rating system which is based on statistics such as student debt and default rates while excluding non-financial factors such as a college's commitment to service.

"I asked for a balanced scorecard to incorporate service because not everything can be quantified in dollars," said Dr. DiSalvo. As a result, Under Secretary of Education Martha Cantor agreed to organize a small group of college presidents to measure service participation among college students nationwide.

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