OGDEN -- Those with a handle on the amount of volunteer work done by Weber State University students each year credit the university's president, F. Ann Millner, for creating an environment that is transforming the community.
Millner and the WSU Community Involvement Center will receive the prestigious Transforming Communities Recognition at the Lieutenant Governor's Volunteer Recognition and Awards Banquet on April 25.
"Only under her leadership have we been able to form the Community Involvement Center and allowed it to flourish the way it has," said Brenda Kowalewski, director of the WSU Community Involvement Center.
The center opened officially in 2007 and has grown exponentially since that time.
Kowalewski said last year that more than 7,000 WSU students completed 131,000 volunteer hours with more than 80 nonprofit agencies.
Kowalewski said that kind of enthusiasm for serving the community came about as a result of Millner's personal enthusiasm for creating an environment where that could happen.
"She's always been a steward of the community," Kowalewski said. "She's really made it a focal point of her presidency for the last decade."
Kowalewski said WSU's strong ties to the community grew out of Millner's commitment to the center, her vision for what WSU students could accomplish for both themselves and others, and her dedication to training them to make a difference.
Kowalewski said both students and the community are served when students volunteer. Not only does the volunteer work get done, she said, but students then graduate with additional skills they would not have acquired had they not performed the services.
Kowalewski said the WSU Community Involvement Center grew out of Millner's two-year appointment, from 2005 to 2007, as the chairwoman of Utah Campus Compact.
And her leadership in that organization benefited the entire state, said Tracy Healey, who is the event coordinator at Utah Campus Compact and also a staff member at the Utah Commission on Volunteers, which chose Millner for the award.
Healey said Millner recognized that it was the right thing to bring the community to campus, so everyone could benefit from the resources there.
"She is the reason WSU is engaged in the community," she said. "Everyone across campus has grown to respect their community and become engaged in it."
In 2008, WSU received the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.
"Now Weber State University is training and offering resources to other campuses across the state that have been applying," Healey said.
"Weber State has set a standard to show that they are a leader in community involvement."
The university also is on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
"(Millner) has gone beyond what most presidents do on their campuses," Healey said. "She has recognized the importance of reaching out to the community."
Healey said that because of Millner's efforts, WSU is not just in the community but has become part of the community.
Healey touted Millner and the center for a science and art in the park program.
"This really reaches out to bring education to everyone," Healey said.
Besides opening the WSU Community Involvement Center, Healey said, Millner affected her community in larger ways.
During Millner's tenure as chairwoman of the Utah Campus Compact, Healey said, she oversaw a partnership between the Compact coalition and the Utah Coalition for Civic Character and Service Learning to hold a "Dialogue on Democracy," in which political and education leaders got together to discuss the role higher education plays in democracy.
She also oversaw a State of Engagement project that measured faculty involvement in the community and the results of those efforts.
Healey said the program was so successful that other states have re-created the study.
To attend the banquet at which Millner and the center will be honored, register online at volunteers.utah.gov. The banquet will be held at the Davis Conference Center. Tickets are $25.