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Columbia College named an institution of character

(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- Columbia College has been recognized as a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character Institution for 2007-08. The college is among 199 colleges and universities around the country that received the designation this year.

The award recognizes NAIA member institutions that have embraced the character program by promoting or implementing activities related to five core values: respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

“Champions of Character has a profound impact on student-athletes, coaches and in the communities the NAIA and member institutions serve. I am delighted to see an increase in the number of schools that use the program to intentionally teach character,” said Rob Haworth, NAIA vice president for Champions of Character. Haworth cited a 20 percent increase over last year in the total number of member institutions recognized. "I applaud these institutions for their commitment to advance character-driven intercollegiate athletics,” he said.

As a Champions of Character institution, Columbia College coaches and student-athletes work directly with youth organizations, schools and civic groups to educate, promote and incorporate the five core values within the sporting or daily activities of youth and adults. The college hosts regular athletic workshops with students at Eugene Field Elementary School in Columbia, Mo., the institution's partner in education.

This year, the Columbia College athletic department announced plans to spread the Champions of Character values even further. Each Cougar athletic team selected one value and pledged to involve themselves in activities that represented it.

This September, the men's basketball team hosted a responsibility week featuring Sarah Panzau, a former athlete mangled in a drunk-driving accident, and Bob Hall, an expert in nonviolent sexuality. The college will host additional activities throughout the year to actively involve student-athletes and to celebrate the Champions of Character initiative.

Introduced in 2000, the NAIA Champions of Character program seeks to create environments in which student-athletes, youth, parents, coaches, officials and spectators are committed to and understand the true spirit of competition through respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

Columbia College has been an NAIA Champions of Character Institution since the program's inception. For more information about the Champions of Character initiative, visit Columbia College, a private, nonprofit institution founded in 1851 in Columbia, Mo., educates 25,000 students each year and has more than 61,000 alumni worldwide.