The University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest public universities in the United States. Founded in 1883, the university has grown from a single building, eight teachers, two departments and 221 students to a 350-acre main campus with 21,000 faculty and staff, 16 colleges and schools, and almost 50,000 students.
Staff and students contribute more than three million hours of volunteer service to the community every year. Three out of four of the university’s students volunteer at least once a year, many through events sponsored by one of the 900 organized student groups.
Volunteering at The University of Texas at Austin is nothing new. Since its establishment more than a century ago, this institution has promoted community service as a means of forming well-rounded, responsible individuals.
In 1999, the university’s Volunteer Center supported a student group's idea of creating a large-scale community service event, namely, The Project. This event has recruited more than 2,000 volunteers each year, creating a greater impact in the community through the one-day service event in addition to bringing the community closer together. With the help of the university’s faculty, staff, and students, as well as public and private agencies and businesses in the Austin area, The Project has become The University of Texas at Austin’s traditional day of service.
Additionally, in an effort to strengthen the connection between academics and volunteerism, the Volunteer Center incorporated a service learning component into its student programs in the Spring of 2000, creating UT Students Enriching Education through Service (UT SEES). This student organization promotes and supports service learning across all disciplines at the university. To reflect the growing importance of this pedagogy, the Volunteer Center became the Volunteer and Service Learning Center in 2002, becoming an individual department within the Office of the Dean of Students.
The Volunteer and Service Learning Center recruits more than 8,000 university student volunteers each year. It continues to grow and develop with the commitment that every student at The University of Texas at Austin will have the opportunity to experience service to the community.