The Texas Legislature established the Sam Houston Normal Institute to train teachers over 140 years ago. Since then, our university has grown substantially in both prestige and size but the fundamentals of who we are still remain focused on serving the common good.
The university's motto “The measure of a Life is its Service” is a deeply-embedded cultural value at Sam Houston State University, where community engagement is recognized as an integral component of campus life. Sam Houston has expanded curriculum, pedagogy, and research to include community engagement in support of the overarching goal of preparing students to be active and productive citizens. This “service-learning” approach encompasses a continuum of experiential education programs including volunteerism, outreach, academic community engagement, and community-based research.
In 2012, the Center for Community Engagement was established to facilitate reciprocal partnerships between the university and the communities it serves. These long-term partnerships, academic courses, and programs enhance student learning, meet community needs, and strengthen students’ commitment to community engagement.
Volunteerism is prevalent within the university community. Faculty, staff, and students lead and participate in a number of volunteer efforts that culminate in significant service hours with a monetary value in the millions of dollars. Among the most visible campus initiatives is the Student Government Association sponsored “Bearkat All Paws In,” an annual event organized around a day filled with community service projects.
The integration of community engagement, both culturally and academically, has been a hallmark in the success of the university and its students. Sam Houston is one of 114 doctoral research universities to be designated as a “Community Engaged” institution. While over 70% of our students are classified “at risk” and nearly half are first-generation, SHSU ranks among the top Texas public universities in placing students in the workforce within twelve months of graduating.
Without a doubt, academic community engagement enhances the SHSU learning experience and provides meaningful life lessons that will continue to resonate with students long after graduation.
“It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success.”
—George Washington Carver
Dana G. Hoyt
President, Sam Houston State University