A Tradition of Service at Washington University

In honor of the Clinton Global Initiative – University (CGI-U) opening April 5-7, 2013, Bears Repeating offers a brief look back at WU community service through the years.




The Saale family wrote to Chancellor Danforth, “we were blessed with 10 fantastic volunteers from your school. They had the worst job anyone could imagine (shoveling and carrying mud from the basement and dumping it in the yard). They stayed with it until the end and were very hard workers. They should be successful in life. Sorry they didn’t leave as clean as they came to us.”

Find more photos and stories about the WU Flood Relief team in WU Magazine, Spring 1994.


Social Work students bring their work to the people of Southeast Missouri.  Read more about this innovative program in “Graduate Student In The Bootheel”


Summer 1962

freedom_62-250D-20High School students from across the country attend the first Freedom Summer Institute on campus led by WU faculty and staff.  The goal was to share the “positive side of our American system and of what our nation stands for: not for fear of the extreme right or left, but to build a better informed citizenry, confident in the value of a democratic society.” Read more about the program in the WU Magazine, November 1962.



Students volunteer for the Red Cross to roll bandages during World War II.

Explore more ways WU students and faculty volunteered for service in World War II, and earlier in World War I, as part of Base Hospital 21.

Of course, these are only a few examples of the many different ways students, faculty, and staff have worked for the betterment of the community.

Did you participated in community service work while at WU? Please share your story below in the comments section, and help us spotlight the long tradition of service at Washington University.

About the author

Miranda Rectenwald is Curator of Local History, Washington University Special Collections. More info.