UNL named honor institution for supporting Truman Scholars

Released on 07/07/2010, at 12:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., July 7th, 2010 —

In mid-June, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was named to a list of prominent institutions known for promoting excellence and student achievement. No, not the Big Ten Conference. UNL was selected as a 2010 Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation Honor Institution in recognition of the university's outstanding record of support for Truman Scholars.

Each year the Truman Foundation selects two institutions for its honor award. The award recognizes an institution's active encouragement of students pursuing careers in public service, effective promotion of the Truman Scholarship program, and sustained success in helping students win Truman Scholarships. The other 2010 honoree is Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation awards 60 to 65 merit-based scholarships each year to college juniors who wish to attend graduate school and pursue a career in public service. UNL's most recent recipient is Matthew Boring, a junior from Lincoln; he is UNL's 14th Truman Scholar and was notified in spring 2010.

Laura Damuth, UNL's director of undergraduate research and fellowship adviser, said UNL's selection as a Truman Honor Institution was a surprise but also well-deserved.

"I cannot imagine a better recognition for UNL because it says 'you are doing all the right things,'" she said.

Institutions nominate Truman Scholarship candidates; Damuth said nominees are always top academic scholars with long track records of public service to organizations or causes outside their institutions.

"They are students who are very actively engaged in public service with deep commitment to their cause, and most put in hours and hours of impressive work," she said. "Many have started during their high school or by at least their

"These are students who are real agents of change, who have already made an impact and will continue to do so," Damuth said. "The kind of work they do usually is off-campus and community-focused. They step outside the campus walls to make a difference. Often they are working in areas of public policy that can impact a lot of people."

For example, she said, Boring was a member of the inaugural State Farm Youth Advisory Board, where he helped develop a five-year $25 million grant process to fund K-12 service learning projects that link service to academic curriculum. He also is a member of the America's Promise Alliance where his project looked at ways to help communities counter the issues that cause students to drop out of high school.

Damuth said the Truman application experience is unique because it comes earlier in a student's career than other post-graduate scholarships and its process helps students focus on personal statements and sharpen their interviewing skills.

"They really learn from the Truman interview process," she said. "Every student I've ever had go through it, whether they get the scholarship or not, say they really valued and appreciated the process."

Although she's proud of the award, Damuth said she's most proud of the students who have been nominated, been finalists and have won the scholarship. "These are exceptional students who will continue throughout their lives wanting to make a difference."

UNL joins 69 other institutions that have been named Honor Institutions. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was authorized by Congress in 1975 and first awarded scholarships in the 1977-78 academic year. Truman scholarships honor and memorialize the nation's 33rd president. The foundation is governed by a board of directors. It is chaired by Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman sits on the foundation's board of trustees.

UNL plans a celebratory event in the fall.

Writer: Kim Hachiya, University Communications