Trustees pitch in for service challenge

The University’s highest governing body is stepping up to help students complete first lady Michelle Obama’s community service challenge by pledging to serve at least 60 hours each before Obama’s deadline of May 1.

Last October, Board of Trustees members Allan From and Michelle Hagans proposed to the 31 members of the board that each trustee should contribute 30 hours toward the challenge. From said the board immediately rejected the 30-hour proposal, saying it was not high enough, and voted to complete 60 hours per trustee.

Now, more than four months later, the University community has officially completed 73,958 hours for the service challenge, and some board members say they have gone above the 60-hour pledge.

“With 31 members of the board, [60 hours each] is about 1,800 hours – and some will do more. So, if we can get about 2,000 hours, that’s about 2 percent of Obama’s goal,” From said.

From, an attorney based in North Carolina, said he has been assisting charitable organizations by providing free legal work for his community service hours.

“Once you get involved with those kinds of entities, [the hours] add up pretty quickly,” he said.

From also helped an after-school learning center, working with disadvantaged students.

Another trustee, Gary Granoff, said he serves as a part-time and unpaid judge in his local Village Justice Court. He said he would complete 40 hours through this service, for a total of about 80 hours toward the challenge.

Among other activities, he also serves as vice chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, where he will serve part of his 60-hour commitment.

Granoff says the work of the Parker Jewish Institute is “very meaningful,” especially, he said, when elderly patients undergo surgery and cannot go home immediately. Granoff said it is important for these patients “to have a community in which they live at the nursing home.”

The challenge posed to the board was “not a requirement,” Executive Director of Media Relations Candace Smith said.

“We are thankful for those who have been helping us meet this challenge,” she said.

Beyond the 2009-2010 year, From said current board members have pledged to continue the 60 service hours each year as long as they are serving on the board.

“We’re going to encourage new members of the board, who did not vote on that, to do the same thing,” From said. “Everybody needs to participate.”

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