Ohio Wesleyan to Attend President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge Event

Gathering Set for July 9-10 in Washington, D.C., to Evaluate Best Practices in Interfaith Service

DELAWARE, OHIO – A contingent of three Ohio Wesleyan University students and two administrators will travel to Washington, D.C., to present at the July 9-10 President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge and Summer Gathering.

Ohio Wesleyan is a founding partner of the presidential program, created in 2011 to encourage colleges and universities to participate in a year of interfaith and community service programming. Ohio Wesleyan also was a founding partner of former President Clinton’s AmeriCorps and the only liberal arts college in the pilot program for the 1993 Summer of Service.

Students attending the Washington workshop are sophomore Katie Butt of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, Christian representative of the OWU Interfaith Leadership Council; senior Iftekhar Showpnil of Dhaka, Bangladesh, president of OWU Tauheed (Muslim student association); and senior Tamara Winkler of Cincinnati, president of OWU Hillel (Jewish student association). Staff members attending are Sally Leber, director of community service learning, and the Rev. Jon Powers, university chaplain.

“We are honored to be sharing the Ohio Wesleyan story at this national event,” Powers said. “At OWU, Muslims and Mormons, evangelical and mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Baha’is, even atheists and agnostics, come together year after year to explore our differences with deep respect, and then to act together on what we discover are our shared values – to build a better community, a better world. The interfaith community service ethos at Ohio Wesleyan truly illustrates the core values of President Obama’s campus challenge.

The challenge is led by the White House and supported by the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service. According to oganizers, more than 400 campuses responded to President Obama’s campus challenge with more than 250 campuses organizing successful interfaith service and interfaith engagement events. Collectively, those events involved more than 50,000 people. The initiative was deemed so impactful that it will continue next year.

During the two-day summer gathering, representatives of higher education institutions nationwide will discuss their service initiatives and develop new ideas to take back to their respective campuses.

At Ohio Wesleyan, one of the university’s interfaith service initiatives was “OWU Breads from Around World” – an idea embraced by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and shared with other U.S. colleges. The outreach involved Ohio Wesleyan students baking breads representing their cultures to share with local firefighters during a thank-you ceremony and 10th anniversary commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The program enabled students from any of the nearly 50 states and 60 countries represented at Ohio Wesleyan to make and share bread representing their unique homelands and heritage. Ohio Wesleyan’s tradition of service continued in many other ways, too. For the fourth consecutive year, the university was honored with inclusion on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction.

Ohio Wesleyan earned 2012 Honor Roll recognition from the Corporation for National and Community Service for its strong commitment to community service, service-learning, and public partnerships that produce measurable benefits for those they aid. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Ohio Wesleyan students volunteered more than 44,300 hours to help others.

In addition to being recognized in Washington for its commitment to service, Ohio Wesleyan also was cited this summer as an “Exemplary Model of Interfaith Campus Programs” during the National Interfaith Leadership Institute held June 18-21 in Chicago.

A contingent of OWU representatives also will attend the Interfaith Leadership Institute at the University of Pennsylvania from July 16-19. Scheduled to attend the four-day institute are junior Mariam Ibourk of Tangier, Morocco; senior Ashley Madera of Scottsdale, Ariz., and staff member David Soliday, OWU’s instructional technologist.

“Ohio Wesleyan has a rich legacy of serving others on a local, national, and international scale,” said Rock Jones, Ph.D., president of the university. “It is exciting and energizing to see the commitment of our students, faculty, and staff to reach out and help others through mission trips, community programs, and individual initiatives.”


Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 47 states and 57 countries. Ohio Wesleyan was named to the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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