Ohio Wesleyan Wins National Better Together Award

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Ohio Wesleyan attendees at a recent Interfaith Leadership Institute spend time with Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core. Pictured (from left) are senior Kelsey Gallaher, 2014 graduate Myriem Ibourk, Patel, senior Katie Butt, and Chaplain Jon Powers. (Photo courtesy of Katie Butt)

Ohio Wesleyan attendees at a recent Interfaith Leadership Institute spend time with Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core. Pictured (from left) are senior Kelsey Gallaher, 2014 graduate Myriem Ibourk, Patel, senior Katie Butt, and Chaplain Jon Powers. (Photo courtesy of Katie Butt)

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University’s 2013-2014 “OWU Better Together” campaign has been selected from among 162 applicants nationwide to receive the Interfaith Youth Core’s “Best Overall Campaign” Better Together Award. The Ohio Wesleyan initiative, overseen by the Office of the Chaplain and Community Service Learning, focused on food supply and hunger issues.

“When it came to mobilizing their campus for interfaith action, OWU Better Together blew us away,” Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) judges said this week in announcing Ohio Wesleyan’s receipt of the Best Overall Campaign Award.

“In all, out of a student body of 1850, (OWU students) engaged 1,300 students in over 40,000 hours of community service,” the IFYC judges stated. “In food-justice specific efforts, they served 1,225 meals, built two community gardens, and recycled 5,670 bags of garbage and 87,264 bottles and cans.”

Based in Chicago, the Interfaith Youth Core was founded in 2002 by Eboo Patel, who also served on President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The IFYC believes that U.S. college students, supported by their campuses, can be the interfaith leaders needed to make religion a bridge and not a barrier to international cooperation and understanding.

As a result of its award-winning campaign, Ohio Wesleyan will receive a monetary award to increase the scope of its Better Together initiative as well as free registration to an Interfaith Leadership Institute during the coming academic year.

One of the student-leaders of the 2013-2014 OWU Better Together campaign was Katie Butt, a senior from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, majoring in sociology and minoring in psychology. Butt, president of OWU Better Together, has participated in four mission trips while at Ohio Wesleyan, traveling to Chicago to study urban poverty; to Erie, Pennsylvania, to work with the Benedictine Sisters on social-justice initiatives; to New Orleans to assist in ongoing Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts; and to Vietnam to aid children harmed by the chemical defoliant Agent Orange.

Butt said the IFYC Better Together Award is especially meaningful because it “means that OWU Better Together is well on its way to instilling interfaith awareness and understanding on our campus.”

“In a world where the most dominant religions are in constant conflict with one another, encouraging conversations around our beliefs and how they intersect is invaluable,” Butt said. “OWU is so wonderful partially due to the diversity on our campus, including religious and non-religious diversity. We want to create a campus atmosphere where that diversity is not only accepted, but embraced. The award means we are one step closer to doing so.”

The IFYC judges agreed, stating, “Ohio Wesleyan University led a truly inspiring campaign that will continue to impact their campus for years to come.”

Since its founding, the IFYC has worked with more than 200 college and university campuses on five continents to train students in interfaith leadership. Its partners have included the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the White House, and the Office of Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. Learn more about the IFYC at ifyc.org.

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s award-winning OWU Better Together campaign at ifyc.org/content/best-overall-campaign and more about the university’s Office of the Chaplain and Community Service Learning at chaplain.owu.edu. Follow OWU Better Together on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/owubettertogether.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private, coed university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, minors, and concentrations, and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world practice. OWU’s 1,850 students represent 42 states and 37 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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