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The Relationship of Undergraduate Community Service to Alumni Community Involvement and Leadership

Timothy J Maynard, Johnson & Wales University


Educational leaders profess that colleges and universities have a civic mission to develop responsible citizens who will serve and lead communities (Carnegie, 2006; Eyler & Giles, 1999; Newman, Couturier, & Scurry, 2004). This mission is often pursued through student community service. Educational research involving community based learning often focuses on undergraduates and finds positive results (Astin, 1996). But there is limited evidence to indicate whether community service endures after graduation (Astin et al., 2006). The purpose of this study was to assess whether undergraduate community service relates to the behavior of alumni in terms of their involvement and leadership in the community. This quantitative study used a 22-item questionnaire to survey alumni (N = 131) of a private, urban, mid-sized New England university where service-learning became mandatory for graduation more than a decade ago. The study focused on long term outcomes of undergraduate community service by assessing behaviors of alumni who graduated from 1996 to 2003. The inquiry included type of undergraduate community service, community service issue area, and the mandatory nature of community service. Principal findings indicated a strong, enduring relationship between undergraduate community service and alumni involvement in voluntary service, but no similar relationship was found between undergraduate community service and alumni community leadership. Also, undergraduates involved in club or Greek programs, residence hall projects, and service-learning courses showed significant higher results compared to other community service types in terms of alumni community involvement. Alumni who participated in the undergraduate community service issue areas of environment, hunger/poverty, and senior/elder care showed significant differences compared to other alumni with regard to community involvement. Mandated undergraduate service-learning was found to be neither beneficial nor detrimental in terms of alumni behavior. Educational leaders can use these findings to consider specific undergraduate community service programs and community issue areas to be emphasized. Furthermore, rather than mandating community service, educators should build a campus environment and ethos to ensure numerous and attractive curricular and co-curricular opportunities are available to educate undergraduates concerning their citizenship and civic engagement responsibilities to volunteer and to give back to the community.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Education Policy|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Maynard, Timothy J, "The Relationship of Undergraduate Community Service to Alumni Community Involvement and Leadership" (2011). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3456399.