ORLANDO, Fla. – Penn State Hillel has been awarded a "Top 5 University with Greatest Improvement in Breadth," a certificate for achieving significant improvement in student engagement, as part of Hillel International’s Measuring Excellence program.
This week marks the 3rd annual Hillel International Global Assembly, bringing together over 850 Hillel professionals from across the world to celebrate successes on campus, learn with each other, reflect on growth, and to think critically about future goals. This year’s opening night began with the 2016 Drive to Excellence Awards, recognizing Hillels that demonstrate Excellence in Hillel’s movement-wide Strategic Implementation Plan, The Drive to Excellence, and the 2016 Exemplar Awards, recognizing outstanding individuals who demonstrate outstanding devotion and passion to Jewish campus life.
The Drive to Excellence – Measuring Excellence program, now on 80 campuses, articulates a set of engagement goals to help a significant number of Jewish students make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel.
"With the Drive to Excellence, we commit to building open, welcoming, pluralistic Jewish communities to inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel, thereby building and helping secure the future of the Jewish people in the 21st century," said Eric D. Fingerhut, president and CEO of Hillel International.
To accelerate the Drive to Excellence effort, an entrepreneurial foundation from Pittsburgh identified campuses with the potential to achieve Excellence through a Comprehensive Excellence Pilot (CEP) grant. The Comprehensive Excellence Pilot grant is an experiment to see if a fully-funded Hillel, with resources set up through Hillel International, can set a new, higher bar for what a high performing Hillel looks like.
According to Executive Director Aaron Kaufman, Penn State Hillel, through the Drive to Excellence and the CEP grant, aims to know the names of 90 percent of Jewish students on campus; interact at least once a year with 70 percent of students; form an ongoing relationship with 40 percent, and provide high-impact experiences -- for example, through Birthright Israel, leadership roles, fellowships, service learning, and Jewish study -- with at least 20 percent of Jewish students each year. Penn State Hillel achieved those goals by tripling its engagement numbers and reaching nearly 2,400 Jewish students on campus.
"Penn State Hillel’s mission is to enrich the lives of the estimated 5,000 Jewish students at Penn State so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world," said Kaufman.