Empire College has been named to the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the nation's highest honor bestowed on a college for its civic engagement and service.
While 500 colleges and universities were named to the honor roll, only 110 made the roll "with distinction," including Empire College. The Santa Rosa-based college was the only for-profit college among the 18 colleges in the state recognized with distinction.
Roy Hurd, Empire College president and chairman of the board, said Saturday that community service has been an integral part of the college since it was founded 51 years ago. Of the college's more than 700 students, some 500 participate in various community service activities as part of their education.
"We believe very strongly in this service-based learning concept," he said.
The programs include five legal clinics where fourth and fifth year law students provide free services to the elderly, disabled, immigrants and families.
Also, in Empire College's business school, a program run by the United Way called "Earn it, Keep it, Save it" allows accounting students who become certified by the IRS to provide tax assistance to about 300 low-income residents every year.
And the school's medical program gives medical assistant students the opportunity to participate in a number of community health-related programs, including vaccinations and cholesterol screenings.
According to the award certificate, "The Honor Roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities."
Hurd said that Empire College, a for-profit institution, generates annual income of about $6 million. It's profit ranges between five and seven percent.
"We take that money and reinvest it back into the college" in such things as equipment and library resources, Hurd said.