February 11, 2010 — Despite being one of the smallest schools in the "large university" category, the University of Virginia ranks 10th nationally in having the most Peace Corps volunteers, according to the corps' annual list of "Top Producing Colleges and Universities."
U.Va. has 64 alumni currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers, up from 62 last year, when it placed 11th.
The University of Washington tops the list for large schools, with 101 alumni in the Peace Corps.
"A commitment to public service and civic engagement has defined U.Va. students for several generations," said Patricia M. Lampkin, U.Va.'s vice president and chief student affairs officer. "Their interest in joining the Peace Corps is just one example of how they go about fulfilling this commitment. For most who volunteer, the Peace Corps represents a devotion to civic engagement and service that grows deeper at U.Va. and continues over the course of their lives."
Although Madison House, U.Va.'s student volunteer center, doesn't have a formal relationship with the Peace Corps, it provides students with a solid foundation for community service that is good preparation, interim director Elizabeth Bass said.
"We have many students who have been Madison House program directors or volunteers during their time at U.Va. who go on to serve in the Peace Corps," she said. "I have completed many recommendations over the years."
The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing schools annually by the size of the student body. The rankings were calculated based on fiscal year 2008-09 data as of Sept. 30, 2009. Large schools have more than 15,000 undergraduates, and medium-sized schools have 5,000 to 15,000 undergraduates. Small schools have less than 5,000 undergraduates.
Until last year, U.Va. was grouped with medium-sized schools, and would again have earned the No. 1 spot in that category for highest number of current volunteers. George Washington University ranks first for the second year in a row with 53 undergraduate alumni serving. With 40 volunteers, the College of William & Mary was ranked fifth among medium schools.
This year, U.Va.'s undergraduate population is 14,297 – under the 15,000-student cutoff – but the Peace Corps uses numbers from the federal reporting requirements, which includes students in Semester at Sea and the FBI Academy in Quantico toward U.Va.'s enrollment. Both programs are affiliated with U.Va., but the University considers students from neither group as enrolled at U.Va., nor do they earn University of Virginia degrees.