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William and Mary named no. 6 producer of Peace Corps volunteers

The spirit of service that thrives in William and Mary undergraduate students doesn’t end at graduation.

This year, 42 College alumni are volunteering with the Peace Corps, landing William and Mary again on the recently announced list of top colleges and universities to produce Peace Corps volunteers. The College moved up four spots from last year to be ranked as No. 6 out of the top 26 medium-size colleges and universities. Since the Peace Corps' inception, 475 alumni of William and Mary have joined the ranks of the Peace Corps, making the university the No. 82 producer of volunteers of all time.

“We’re much heartened, if unsurprised, to learn once again that William and Mary’s extraordinary young women and men are a signal part of the Peace Corps’ efforts,” said William and Mary President Gene R. Nichol. “We can hope for no better use of the training in engaged, ennobling, international education they find at the College. They inspire.”

William and Mary was one of only four Virginia schools that made the ranking. The University of Virginia was ranked as No. 2 in medium category. James Madison University ranked No. 14 in large category, and the University of Mary Washington ranked No. 5 in the small category.

With the College’s strong cross-cultural, volunteer and study abroad programs, William and Mary alumni are a natural fit for the Peace Corps, whose mission focuses on service and promoting understanding. Volunteer service is already a significant part of undergraduate life at William and Mary. According to a recent survey, 75 percent of all undergraduates volunteer during their time at the College. William and Mary students volunteer 323,000 hours of community service per year. Much of that interest transfers into increased alumni service -- such as volunteer work in the Peace Corps, which is celebrating 45-years of service at home and abroad.

Since 1961, more than 187,000 Peace Corps volunteers have provided service in 139 countries and worked in a variety of areas such as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment and agriculture. The Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

“Peace Corps allows graduates to take their skills outside the classroom and make a real difference in the lives of people who can most use their help,” Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter said in announcement about the top colleges list. “The over 1,200 institutions of higher learning that have volunteers overseas, sharing what they have learned, should be proud of their contributions.”

William and Mary consistently ranks near the top of volunteer service among medium-sized schools. Schools are ranked according to the size of the student body. Small schools are those with less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium-size schools are those between 5,001 to 15,000 undergraduates, and large schools are those with more than 15,000 undergraduates.

After 20 years of the University of Wisconsin-Madison being the top producer of Peace Corps volunteers, the University of Washington’s 110 currently serving alumni moved them into the top spot for the first time since 1981. All three of this year’s top producers are new to that spot. In the medium-sized schools category George Washington University vaulted four spots to No. 1. In the small schools category, the University of Puget Sound also jumped four spots to the top.

The entire “Peace Corps Top Colleges 2007" list may be viewed at http://multimedia.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/stats/schools2007.pdf