February 4, 2009 — The University of Virginia was ranked 11th among large universities in having the most volunteers on the Peace Corps' annual list of "Top Producing Colleges and Universities." U.Va. has 62 alumni currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers.
Until this year, U.Va. was grouped with medium-sized schools, and last year earned the No. 1 spot in that category for highest number of current volunteers.
"Considering that the University of Virginia moved up from our 'medium schools' rankings into the 'large schools' category this year, and even when competing with the largest schools in the country, U.Va. has still made it easily into our top 25 at No. 11. It's quite impressive," said Laura Lartigue, acting deputy press director for the Peace Corps. "Historically, U.Va. has also been a very strong school in producing Peace Corps volunteers, which I think says a lot about the students' commitment to service, as well as the school's international outlook."
The Peace Corps used numbers from the federal reporting requirements, which includes students in the Semester at Sea program and enrolled in the FBI Center, both of which are affiliated with U.Va. However, neither group is considered enrolled at U.Va. nor do its members earn a University of Virginia degree. Without those two groups counted, the number of U.Va. undergraduates is 13,762, which fits in the size criterion for medium colleges and universities: between 5,000 and 15,000 students.
U.Va. would have ranked first again for medium-sized schools. As it stands, the College of William & Mary ranked fifth with 46 volunteers. Several other Virginia public colleges made the Peace Corps' annual list of "Top Producing Colleges and Universities." In addition to U.Va., James Madison University was among schools tied for 21st, with 44 volunteers, and Virginia Tech was 24th, with 43. The University of Mary Washington ranked sixth among small schools, with 20 alumni currently volunteering for the Peace Corps.
In addition to U.Va.'s 62 alumni volunteers, nine graduate alumni are serving with the Peace Corps. Over its 47 years of existence, the Peace Corps has had 946 U.Va. alumni participate.
"The Peace Corps provides a unique opportunity for graduates to use their education and skills, and apply them in a way that can really make a difference," said acting Peace Corps Director Jody K. Olsen. More than 3,000 institutions of higher learning are currently represented by Peace Corps volunteers, who currently serve overseas in 76 countries around the globe. "The University of Virginia can be proud of the contributions its graduates are making in improving the lives of others through their dedicated service as Peace Corps volunteers."
The top 10 large schools with most volunteers include: University of Washington; University of Colorado, Boulder; Michigan State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Texas, Austin; University of Oregon and University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
The University will review the federal reporting requirements to correct the count and reflect the true numbers of enrolled undergraduates next year, said Carol Wood, U.Va. assistant vice president for public affairs.
For more on U.Va. student volunteering, visit scs.student.virginia.edu/~madison/.