January 22, 2002
Emory places high in 'serve-study' rankings
By Michael Terrazas email@example.com
According to a recent study, Emory ranks second among the nations
top universities in its percentage of federal work-study funding that
goes toward community service projects.
The University directs 13.8 percent of work-study funds to service, according
to the Office of Financial Aids student employment office. This
ranks behind only Stanford (22.3 percent) among top American universities.
Trailing Emory are the University of Pennsylvania (12.6 percent), Columbia
(12.5), Harvard (12.3) and Yale (11.2). No other top school is above 10
These figures are a result of an exhaustive project undertaken by The
Washington Monthly and Northwestern Universitys Medill School
of Journalism and are published in WMs January/ February
2002 issue. The article has caused somewhat of a furor in the higher education
community, as dozens of American colleges and universities fall below
the federal mandate of directing at least 7 percent of work-study funds
toward service (Northwestern, incidentally, weighs in at 8.8 percent).
A full text of the article can be found at
I am very glad that we have been able to deploy these funds in
this manner; I cannot imagine a better use for them, said President
Bill Chace. It is good to be in Stanfords company, for that
sister institution seems also to be doing what makes sense, what does
good for the community, and is in accord with the principles of work-study.
The top schools overall in serve-study are all public institutions;
the University of California-Riverside, for example, leads the list at
51 percent. Among the top academic schools, however, Rice, Princeton,
Dartmouth, Brown, Notre Dame and MIT all are below the 7 percent federal
bar; MIT directs just 1.9 percent of funding to serve-study. The national
average for all colleges and universities is just under 12 percent.
According to Christine Workman, Emorys assistant director for student
employment, community service jobs are defined as those for
nonprofit or governmental organizations. Surprisingly, Emory exerts no
controls whatsoever on how many work-study students take jobs in serve-study;
the University simply benefits from having an extremely strong volunteer
organization (Emory READ) that qualifies as serve-study, as well as a
proximity to a government entity (the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention) that employs a large number of students.
Its not like we have a quota or anything [on serve-study
jobs], Workman said. Theres no method. We just let the
students apply to the agencies, and then it sells itself.
Workman said approximately 1,600 Emory students are on work-study, which
brings in about $1.5 million each year from Washington. Federal funds
make up 75 percent of a work-study students paycheck, and the University
picks up the rest. The program was created by Congress in 1965 with the
intent of allowing students to work off student loans by performing community
Indeed, according to the WM article, the current law states explicitly
that the purpose of work-study is to encourage students receiving
federal student financial aid to participate in community service activities
that will benefit the nation and engender in the students a sense of social
responsibility and commitment to the community.
But over the years, fewer and fewer work-study jobs were related to service,
and the federal mandate for serve-study dropped lower and lower until
it bottomed out at 5 percent. It was raised again to 7 percent in 2001.
Now, senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) have introduced
legislation that would raise the federal requirement to 25 percent.
Chace said, if he were in Congress, he would vote for the new bill. Community
service is good for the people it reaches, and it is good for the students
to be directly involved in the lives of people in need, he said.
Even though Emory is doing well in serve-study by most any measure, if
Congress suddenly raised the bar to 25 percent, the University would have
to almost double its current serve-study figure to be in compliance.
However, Michael Rich, director of the the Office of University-Community
Partnerships, said it would not be difficult to come up with more service
opportunities for work-study students by working with Financial Aid and
Volunteer Emory. It would be relatively easy to craft some steps
to raise those numbers, he said.
Still, even though many top universities are taking a beating in the
popular press over this issue for a supposed lack of commitment to community
service, Rich said the serve-study number may not be a valid measure of
this commitment and certainly doesnt tell the whole story.
Thats only one type of service a university might provide:
The so-called warm body approach, where you have this tremendous
labor force at your command, and you encourage students to go out and
give somebody volunteer service hours, Rich said.
Theres a whole other level of service some universities are
beginning to aspire to, he said. Were moving beyond
the warm-body approach to using the kind of intellectual resources and
capacity of a university to work with community and government agencies
to engage in collaborative problem-solving, needs assessment, program
evaluations, things of that nature.
Emory University, Copyright 2002