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PTLA Celebrates 2019 Graduation


By Yiben Liu CCBP Graduate Assistant

Diane Kennedy-Jackson Publications Coordinator, Division of Community Affairs

The Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) marked the culmination of the 2018–2019 academic year on April 9, when parent and teacher participants and their families, along with superintendents and principals from participating schools, gathered at the Bryant Conference Center for the 2019 graduation ceremony.

“We are delighted to have each of you with us tonight to celebrate our 2018–2019 graduates and their accomplishments,” said Program Manager Whitney Sewell as she welcomed the more than 250 guests in attendance. “This evening we are proud to recognize 80 parent graduates and 79 teacher graduates from our 6 participating school districts,” Sewell continued. “Graduates, we welcome you and your families and are pleased to honor you this evening.”

Sewell went on to share that PTLA is a unique leadership program in that it provides both research-based professional development to parents and teachers and a structure for application of that new knowledge, as evidenced by the teams’ project proposals that were on display. In total, 159 participants worked in parent-teacher teams to develop 41 projects and initiatives focused on student education; each aligned with one of their school’s improvement goals.

School systems participating in the 2018–2019 PTLA program include: Alabaster City Schools, the Fayette County School District, the Lamar County School District, Sumter County Schools, the Tuscaloosa City School District and the Tuscaloosa County School System. Principals from each of the 41 participating schools attended the ceremony, as did superintendents from four of the six districts.

Graduate delegates of each sub-academy within the program shared their feelings and experiences of the year-long program, which offered learning on such topics as Parents as Leaders: Building Leaders Within Your Schools, Strengthening Collaboration to Support Student Success, Fostering a Culture of Collaboration and Communication, and You Matter and What You do Matters.

Bronjalin Sparks, Creek View Elementary, spoke on behalf of the Parent Leadership Academy, while Holt Elementary School’s Esperanza Erreguin represented the Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy. Representing the Elementary Teacher Leadership Academy was program graduate Angel DuBose-Thomas, Livingston Junior High. Traci Rogan of Hillcrest Middle School spoke on behalf of the Middle School Parent Leadership Academy and Curtis Gosa, Westlawn Middle School, on behalf of the Middle School Teacher Leadership Academy.

Sparks said that after each session she was excited to apply and practice the knowledge she learned from PTLA. She also appreciated the connection with the teachers, which she may not have been able to have otherwise.

Erreguin thanked the passion every participant and facilitator brought to this program. “Without passion, we won’t be able to do or become better,” said Erreguin.

Being both a teacher and a parent, DuBose-Thomas said she enjoyed herself and wished more people could come, noting that PTLA provides a great opportunity to have parents and teachers come together to help students.

Rogan is a returning participant. She and her teammates expanded their previous year’s project, aimed at preparing 6th-grade students and parents for middle school. “Now, more than ever, it is vital that we are active participants of our children’s education,” said Rogan, who shared that she thought PTLA provided effective instruction.

Gosa shared his experiences as both a student and teacher. “PTLA has given me the opportunity to reach back out to the community,” he said. “And school won’t work without the community.”

PTLA facilitators include Lynn Evers, Elementary Parent Leadership Academy, Kaye Ridgway, Middle School Parent Leadership Academy, Kara Bernal, Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy and Dr. Liza Wilson (senior associate dean and professor in the College of Education at The University of Alabama), Middle School Teacher Leadership Academy.

Following the presentation of certificates by Sewell, Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president of The University of Alabama’s Division of Community Affairs, gave the closing remarks. “I appreciate all your efforts,” said Pruitt: “I always believe, if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”

Pruitt’s sentiments echo the PTLA mission of “Building Community by Supporting Children and Families.” It is a mission that not only states the purpose of PTLA, but that echoes its values — values that are mirrored by the University’s strategic plan as a community-engaged institution.


Division of Community Affairs Launches New Student Community Engagement Center

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Community and university engagement at The University of Alabama received a boost today with the unveiling of the UA Student Community Engagement Center.

The SCEC is a 4,000 square-foot hub in Capital Hall that will house 14 anchor student organizations from six UA colleges and schools. It is open to all students and groups with an interest in connecting their efforts to engagement work in the community, said Carol Agomo, director of community and administrative affairs at UA.

The SCEC includes individual offices for student organizations, an open area for collaboration and a conference room. The space will also serve as a meeting area for community partners that work with UA student groups. The SCEC will also support community engagement work of faculty and staff and connect them with student groups that have similar missions. The UA student chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama has already begun using the space for work meetings. PRCA has launched community partnerships with Catholic Social Services, Good Samaritan Clinic, SD Allen Ministry and Five Horizons to tackle a variety of community issues, such as hunger, poverty and HIV outreach, by providing communications infrastructure and strategies and multimedia tools for each agency. “PRCA’s mission is to provide real-world experiences for all of our members through active engagement,” said Anna McAbee, a junior public relations major. “So, when we heard about this space, the main selling point was that students would be able to do real-world work.” Dr. Andrew Pearl, director of community engagement research and publications in UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, said the center was designed to not only provide students a designated meeting space, but to encourage synergy and transdisciplinary work among all student groups. The “cross-talk” has already begun, as PRCA members have met with student groups from UA’s School of Social Work and College of Engineering. Pearl said the center is the first of its type in the realm of higher education and community engagement. He is keen for the center to be a catalyst for student groups to move “beyond reciprocity and into co-creation,” and to form more authentic partnerships.

“We want our students to understand the mission of each partner, but we want to develop goals in concert with one another,” Pearl said. “Building these relationships in this manner will help get to the root causes of problems.”

A key element in growing the center is developing strong relationships and trust from community partners, and to reach that goal, the center must be a collaborative space “meant for everyone,” Pearl said. The center’s policies reflect that aspect, as community partners can hold their own meetings at the center. Additionally, the center is conveniently located at UA’s Peter Bryce campus, making it easy for community partners to access and find parking.


PLA Presents Group Projects in Final Meeting Before Graduation Ceremony

By  Yiben Liu CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Parent Leadership Academy (PLA), a program of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) at The University of Alabama, held its final regular meeting at the Bryant Conference Center on March 7. The next gathering of this group will be an April 9 graduation ceremony. PLA includes four units, the Elementary PLA, Hispanic PLA, Pre-K PLA, and middle school PLA.

Lynn Evers, Elementary Parent Leadership Academy facilitator, gave the welcome. “We all realize this time of the year is very difficult for families,” said Evers. She thanked attendees for arranging their schedules in order to attend the meeting.

Participants presented their group projects to each other, and participants were granted two rounds of presentations in order to guarantee that each member of a group had the chance to explore the whole exhibition and communicate their ideas to others.

The Big Sandy Elementary School team hosted “STEM Night at the Sandy” on Feb. 28. During this event, each grade brought up a challenge related to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) and both students and parents were invited to work through the challenges together. The event was attended by 320 students, parents, teachers and staff members.

“We really get everybody pumped up!” said presenter Whitney Swatloski, who announced that the school plans to conduct the project on an annual basis. The biggest challenge, she said, was to get parents engaged during after-school hours on a workday. “We are super proud of how many people actually showed up,” she said.

The Brookwood Middle School team is planning an engagement day including a 5K and Fun Run, an Arts Festival and an Old Timer’s softball game on May 11. The targeted participants not only include Brookwood students, alumni and their families, but the entire Brookwood community. “We have an open gate,” said presenter Polly Anders. Anders said the original idea was based on the concern of the low involvement of parents in their students’ school activities. The goal is to bring school and community together as one.

Following the presentations, CCBP Executive Director Dr. James E. McLean led a workshop on grant application and funding.


Parent Leadership Academy Participants Learn About Childhood Safety, Behavioral Issues and Eating Disorders

By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Fellow

This year’s Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) class learned how to help children with behavioral issues and eating disorders, and got advice about keeping their children safe in person and online during Session V, held Feb. 7, 2019 at The University of Alabama’s Bryant Conference Center.

“Tonight is school safety night,” said PTLA Middle School Facilitator Kaye Ridgway. “We will discuss everything from the role of a school resource officer to suicide prevention, just several different subject areas.”

Speakers included Sergeant Jeff Judd, with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department; Chris Jenks, director of technology for Tuscaloosa City Schools; Linda Knol, PhD, RD, director of human nutrition and culinary medicine at UA; and Jacqueline S. Hudgins, director of accountability for the Tuscaloosa County School System, who previously worked as an in-school interventionist and as a counselor.

“I’m here to explain how school resource officers interact with the kids, what they do and their role, versus what the role of an administration is, along with safety and crisis plans that we have in place at each school,” Judd said.

The Parent Teacher Leadership Academy, housed within UA’s Center for Community-Partnerships, utilizes research-based practices to provide professional development to parent and teacher leaders who use their knowledge to support students’ achievement through strong family/school partnerships.

“My main topics tonight are suicide, bullying and the mental health of young people. I will discuss trends and cyberbullying and what parents can do to intervene. Some of our topics will overlap,” Hudgins said. “We want parents and teachers to be aware of the resources available in the school.”

PLA includes the following groups: Elementary Parent Leadership Academy (EPLA), Hispanic Parent Leadership Academy (HPLA), Pre-K Parent Leadership Academy (PKPLA), and Middle School Parent Leadership Academy. All four held individual meetings Feb. 7, with the speakers rotating to each room.

Catanya Stager is the parent of a student at Maxwell Elementary School in Tuscaloosa County. The educational psychology doctoral student at UA found out about the program two years ago, but had to wait for a chance to join the class.

“I wanted to be able to understand how better to help within the community as well as at the school,” Stager said. “I enjoy the interaction with other parents and teachers and getting on the same page with them. I’ve gotten to know the administration at the school a little bit better.”

She said the program has shown her how to interact better with her children and foster conversation while playing board games, such as Monopoly.

In addition to hearing from the speakers, class members divided into individual school groups to work on their projects.

Stager said her group has decided to help teachers create lesson plans for character development.

“We will do kindness and have the teachers discuss with the children what kindness looks like in the classroom,” she said.

Academy participants Stepfon and Javelin Lewis have a daughter at Eastwood Middle School within the Tuscaloosa City School System.

“We’ve learned about the school leadership and have been enlightened about programs available at the school,” Javelin said. “I’ve shared information with parents who have children who attend other schools. We really enjoy the program.”

“We were already pretty hands-on, but with us on the group floor we have learned how parents can be more involved in the education of their child,” Stepfon said.

Rochelle Coleman, a parent who is also a Headstart teacher, said she enjoys the program because she knows she is learning things that will help her children, her students and her community.

“I’ve learned about things I can do to help my children retain more over the summer and how to ask detailed questions of my kids to find out what they are actually doing in school,” said Coleman, who said she shares the information she learns with other parents.

For more information about PTLA call Program Manager Whitney Sewell at (205) 348-5743, or email

UA Again Recognized as a Top Producing Institution for Student Fulbright Awards

By Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator, Division of Community Affairs

TUSCALOOSA — The University of Alabama (UA) has, for the third time in the last four years, been recognized as a top producing institution for Fulbright U.S. Student Awards. The recognition was announced Feb. 10 in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Fifteen of 39 UA applicants received the award for 2018–2019, one of the highest winning percentages in the nation.

“We are very proud, once again, to be recognized as a top producer in the annual Fulbright U.S. Student Awards competition,” said Dr. Kevin Whitaker, UA provost. “This success shines a spotlight on the excellence of our students, faculty and academic programs at The University of Alabama. We are very proud of the students selected!”

“Each Fulbright victory is a new opportunity for international community engagement and educational enrichment for our students,” said Dr. Beverly Hawk, UA Fulbright program adviser and director of Global and Community Engagement at UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, an initiative of the Division of Community Affairs. “The University’s great success is the result of the teamwork of students, faculty, supervisors and administrators who create these winning Fulbright applications.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the premier educational exchange program of the United States Department of State. The Fulbright Award competition offers grants for independent study and research and for English teaching assistantships overseas. The highly competitive program selects approximately 1,800 award recipients from more than 11,000 applicants each year.

Thirteen UA graduates won awards as teaching assistants and two for research and study for the 2018–2019 academic year.

“UA’s focus on instilling students with a global perspective during their time at the Capstone continues to reap rewards as reflected in the high number of Fulbright grant recipients,” said Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost for international education and global outreach. “I am grateful to the many dedicated faculty and staff who encourage our students to apply for Fulbright awards and work with them on their applications.”

“I congratulate all of the students who sought a Fulbright student award, as well as the faculty and staff who encouraged them to do so and who helped prepare them for this life-changing experience,” said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs. “I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically acknowledge the work of Dr. Beverly Hawk, UA Fulbright program adviser, who spends untold hours with students to ensure that their applications are the strongest they can possibly be. The experience she gained as a four-time Fulbright Award recipient herself has placed her in a unique position to work with UA Fulbright alumni to help not only our students, but the University as a whole in its goal to be recognized as a top producer.”

University of Alabama graduates serving abroad on Fulbright Awards are Rachel Combs (Germany), Jeremy Connor (Germany), Carrigan Fain (Malaysia), Dwyer Freeman (Germany), Nicole Henderson (Brazil), Maggie Holmes (Spain), Natalie Kidd (Germany), Madeleine Lewis (Montenegro), Richard Lewis (Malaysia), Taebryanna Sims (South Korea), Shelby Smithson (Turkey), Theresa Stoddard (Spain), Kaylyn Williams (Czech Republic), Amanda Wolosz (Poland), and Annika Wulff (Germany).

As a top producer with 15 Fulbrights in 2018–2019, Alabama is in company with some of the top research institutions in the nation, including Brown (35), Princeton (33), Georgetown (30), Notre Dame (24), Harvard (19), Emory and Yale (14), Duke (13), Vanderbilt (12), California-Berkeley (11) and Tufts (10). For the full list of top student Fulbright program producers, visit:

Students interested in applying for next year’s Fulbright program can learn more at and, or by sending an email to

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state’s economy, is in keeping with UA’s vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state’s flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

PLA and TLA Participate in Joint January Session

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

UA’s Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) and Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA) both part of the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA) held a joint session titled “School and Board of Education Relations: Family, School and Community Partnerships” Jan. 17 at the Bryant Conference Center on The University of Alabama campus. This was the fourth session of the 2018–2019 Academy and the second collaborative session of the Academy year.

Dr. James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), welcomed participants and wished them a happy new year. Dr. Holly Morgan, director of Community Education at CCBP, gave opening remarks and reviewed the previous PTLA sessions. “In our last session, parents and teachers began their study of effective communication and collaboration strategies to explore ways to assist their children academically,” she said.

Participants first attended a panel discussion titled “Schools and Board of Education Relations: Effective Communication and Collaboration in Family, School and Community Partnerships.” Panelists included school leaders and experts in the field of education, including Dr. Wayne Vickers, superintendent of Alabaster City Schools; Dr. Kimberly Williams, director of curriculum and technology at Fayette County Schools; Vance Herron, superintendent of Lamar County Schools; Melissa Woods, curriculum director at Sumter County Schools; Dr. Michael Daria, superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools; and Dr. Walter Davie, superintendent of Tuscaloosa County Schools.

Panelists had a lively discussion with Academy participants about relationship building between schools, teachers, parents and school communities, followed by a question-and-answer session. Developing effective communication was the main theme of the panel discussion. “I don’t think we can do that [communication] enough,” said Davie. “In our school system … we are purposeful of our communication, and make sure we are communicating with all stakeholders, not just ‘some’ or ‘a lot.’”

While answering questions, panelists also talked about the challenges of building exclusive communication systems. For instance, Vickers brought up his concern about the credibility of social media. “Our generation has trouble trusting social media, but the young students don’t have any problem … that is something to be discussed,” said Vickers.

The second part of the meeting consisted of group discussion about PTLA partnership project planning. Teachers and parents were divided into groups based on their schools, and each group will utilize what they have learned throughout the Academy to develop a project that aims to enhance their school/community partnership. Groups will present their projects at the March meeting, prior to graduation in April. Morgan shared brief instructions on how to build and present project proposals.

Curtis Gosa from Westlawn Middle School said their group is developing a communication-enhancing project between the schools and the community, with emphasis on face-to-face communications. “… so that the school is better served and becomes the central heartbeat of the community,” he said.

“The collaborative work of our parents and teachers is a hallmark of the Academy,” said Morgan. “We look forward to this session each year as teams finalize their plans for implementation.”

Consortium Gains Momentum with New Ventures, Updates of Existing Programs

The Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education logo represents The University of Alabama, Shelton State Community College, and Stillman College.

The community and its collaborating institutions of higher education are experiencing a multitude of benefits from the Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education (TCHE), made up of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. The Consortium’s purpose is to create partnerships that aid students and provide lifelong continuing education learning opportunities for faculty and staff at the three institutions.

“Through the renewed dedication by all institutions, the decades-old Tuscaloosa Consortium for Higher Education is having an unprecedented impact on our students, faculty, staff and local citizens,” said Dr. Nicole B. Prewitt, director of Programs and Partnerships for Community Engagement in UA’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships. “New programs are being established as we update older ones. The TCHE liaisons look forward to advancing this great work at our respective institutions.” (The liaisons are Dr. Byron Abston, associate dean for student services at Shelton State, Dr. Lamin Drammeh, executive director of the Stillman College Foundation, and Dr. Prewitt.)

“Moving forward, TCHE has the capacity to promote educational opportunity, support economic development, and enhance the quality of life in the Tuscaloosa community,” said Dr. Prewitt.

According to Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, UA vice president for Community Affairs, who also serves as a member of the Stillman College Board of Trustees, “TCHE has its roots in the leadership of the late Dr. Cordell Wynn, who greatly influenced all three institutions, hence all of Tuscaloosa. His legacy extends to all three TCHE institutions. Not only did he serve as Stillman College president, but also as a UA Board of Trustees member and special assistant to C.A. Fredd State Technical College, a subsidiary of Shelton State.”

Consortium influences are found in academic programs, grants, community-engaged research, and training and development activities. For example:

  • Seed-fund collaboration in which faculty from Stillman and Shelton State collaborate with University faculty in carrying out small research projects designed to lead to larger grants. UA’s seed funds, administered through the Division of Community Affairs, are available to UA faculty who then partner with colleagues from the other institutions.
  • Creation of collaborative nursing and study-abroad programs.
  • Joint STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational opportunities.
  • Promoting scholarships. Examples include the Community College Distinguished Scholarship program in which students with a 3.75 GPA and 45 hours of transferrable coursework are eligible for $5,000 per year for two years, and the All-Alabama Academic Team Scholarship program, which awards $1,000 per year plus a $300 book grant for two years.
  • TCHE Employee Scholarship Program. This program creates a “common market” among the academic disciplines for employees of the three institutions. Employees may take courses at a TCHE institution for certificate and undergraduate degree programs not offered at the employee’s home institution.

“By combining our resources we are bringing new energy and benefits to all three institutions,” said Dr. Pruitt. “This collaboration is resulting in benefits for all three institutions and its future looks very bright. My thanks to Dr. Prewitt and her counterparts at the other consortium institutions for breathing new life into this valuable program.”

For more information about the consortium, email Dr. Prewitt at, Dr. Abston at, or Dr. Drammeh at

Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success Stressed in Final Fall Semester PLA Session


By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

On Dec. 6 at the Bryant Conference Center, the Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) held its third session of fall 2018 under the theme “Helping Your Child Achieve Academic Success.”

The participants were divided into four groups: parents of elementary school students, parents of pre-kindergarten school students, parents of middle school students and parents of Hispanic students. Each group participated in two to three workshop sessions designed specifically for the unique needs of students at each level. Parents were encouraged to choose from multiple speakers based on their specific needs as a parent and as a parent leader.

First-grade teacher Emily Glasgow from Buhl Elementary, speaking to the elementary school group, gave an interactive presentation titled “Achieving Success Through Purposeful Conversations.” She stressed the unique role of parents in the success of students. Considering all aspects of a child’s education, Glasgow said discussing school activities at home has the most powerful influence on students’ academic performance.

Woodland Forrest Elementary teacher Rachel Hill provided a presentation titled “Helping Your Child Achieve Academic Success: Math Matters” on efficient methods of teaching math to elementary students. Tuscaloosa County Schools’ Kay Haas conducted a presentation titled “Growing Successful Readers” aimed at developing reading skills among young students. “The most important thing that you can do to grow a reader in your house is to talk to your child,” Haas said.

The middle school groups also carried out two learning sessions. Andrew Maxey, director of special programs of Tuscaloosa City Schools, led a discussion titled “The Adolescent Brain and Student Achievement” in which he explained how to support adolescents’ psychological needs. Fayette County’s Sherry Corbett (reading and English language specialist) and Tuscaloosa County Middle School teachers Traci Primm and Samantha Heath gave presentations about coaching the students in reading, social studies and math, respectively.

Leah Lowery, parent participant and mother of a 7th-grade student, called attending PLA “a great learning experience.” “[Middle school students] are more complex,” said Lowery. “[PLA] gives us a different way to look at our children.”

Pre-K parents attended two sessions — “Growing Successful Readers,” presented by Dr. Cheryl Fondren, director of United Way of West Alabama’s Success by 6 program, and “Preparing a School-Ready Child: Using the ABCs,” presented by Rock Quarry Elementary School Pre-K teachers Alicia Berry Jenne’ and Angela McClinton. They gave specific instructions on how to teach young children to learn words and prepare them for school.

Amy Lamoreaux, mother of a 4-year-old, said: “We want to give our kids a jumpstart at education. To be able to do it at age four is amazing.” She said her son is giving her positive feedback every day.

Two instructors gave presentations to the Hispanic parent group. Coordinator of Secondary and Exceptional Education of Alabaster City Schools Dr. Keri Johnson discussed special education, and English as a Second Language (ESL) Coordinator of Tuscaloosa City Schools Kristi Garcia gave a report on ESL in public schools. Both speakers focused on how to address the special needs of students who speak English as their second language.

Council on Community-Based Partnerships Meeting | November 7, 2018

In attendance:  Carol Agomo, Carrie Barnes (for Dr. Hee Lee), Karyn Bowen, Julia Brock, Jackie Brodsky, Dee Cook, George Daniels, Elizabeth Hartley, Beverly Hawk, Peter Hlebowitsh, Diane Kennedy-Jackson, CeeCee Johnson, Billy Kirkpatrick, Tony LeMieux, Stephanie McClure, Holly Morgan, Ed Mullins, Nicole Prewitt, Samory T. Pruitt, Sarah Saeed, Hailah Said, Whitney Sewell, Tommie Syx, Matthew Wisla, Luna Yang

Dr. Hlebowitsh, dean of the College of Education and chair of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships, opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming. He then turned the agenda over to the rest of the individuals listed.

A video highlighting the goals and ambitions of the Community Affairs Board of Advisors (BOA) members was shown. This video was produced for use at the BOA fall gala, a fund-raising event held Sept. 10 in Birmingham.

The video was followed by announcements for the engaged scholarship in action segment of the meeting. Julia Brock, assistant professor, UA Department of History, shared that she is a new faculty member who came to this, her first Council meeting, in order to make new connections through the Council. Stephanie McClure, assistant professor, Department of Anthropology, also a new faculty member, said she wants to learn about community needs in the West Alabama area and then determine a community partner. Tony LeMieux, an American Fellow on the Council for Education and director of the Global Studies Institute at Georgia State University, is interested in learning more about the engaged scholarship initiatives at UA. Tommie Syx, retired program specialist at the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, shared that she is currently working with the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights Task Force and would love to help anyone connect that might need help meeting new people for their projects.

Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, gave an update on the new Student Community Engagement Center, which will be located in Capital Hall. Pruitt shared that the concept for this space is to facilitate opportunities for UA students to work across disciplines with other students in the manner that we encourage faculty members to do. Renovation of the existing space is set to begin soon, and the Center is scheduled to open early in the 2019 spring semester. It will feature six offices, collaborative space and common workspace, with reconfigurable furniture that will allow for flexibility and future expansion. Pruitt shared that students have had a lot of input on what the space will look like, and also noted that Matthew Wisla, instructor, Advertising and Public Relations, and his students have been a big part of this, creating the first Prezi presentation about the Center. The Crimson White is writing an article about the Center.

Those in attendance were asked to begin identifying possible partnerships that might be utilized to apply for seed funds or any other of the Council awards opportunities. Information about the call for proposals can be found on the Council website at The deadline to apply for seed funds and other awards is Feb. 1, 2019. Travel fund applications are due Feb. 15, 2019. The annual awards program will take place Wednesday, April 17, 2019.

Dr. Holly Morgan, director of Community Education in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) gave an update on Vision Days 2018. The program brought 400 ninth graders to campus to learn about the majors offered at UA, as well as about admission requirements, scholarships and other funding sources. The event, which aligned with the objectives of the BOA, as well as with requests from faculty members who attended the New Faculty Community Engagement Tour this past spring, targeted students from traditionally underserved areas attending schools with whom UA already has relationships. The program brought groups of students to campus on four separate days over a period of two weeks in October. Ninth graders were chosen because of the state’s career development course, which is targeted to them. Morgan indicated that we plan to track these students over the next four years. A Vision Days 2018 video produced at CCBP was shown.

Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement, CCBP, and Hailah Said, Fulbright alumna, reported on how UA’s Fulbright program offers qualifying students an opportunity to go out into the world and gain cultural and educational experiences while allowing those from other countries the opportunity to meet people from the U.S. and, more specifically, Alabama.

UA Fulbright recently returned from Puebla, Mexico, where the Fulbright Association held its 41st annual conference. Said attended to represent UA and to share information with other universities that might be interested in our Global Café model and how we used it to become a Fulbright Top Producer among PhD-granting institutions. The University currently sits at 18th in the nation, ahead of Yale University. She shared that conference attendees actively sought out UA and wanted to know what our approach and strategy was for targeting students to apply for Fulbright. They also wanted to know how we produced such a high number of awardees. Said noted that people were impressed that UA has programs in place to help our Fulbright scholars maintain relationships with their host countries. Additionally, several Fulbright advisors requested contact information, with plans to pursue the possibility of coming to Alabama to see our program in action.

Dr. Hawk invited everyone to attend the upcoming Fulbright information session on Tuesday, Nov. 13, for an evening at Global Café from 5–7 p.m. at CCBP. She also encouraged meeting attendees to share this information with any professors or students they know who might be interested in attending or finding out more about the Fulbright scholarship opportunity.

Dr. Nicole Prewitt, director of Programs and Partnerships for Community Engagement, CCBP, gave an update on the Neighborhood Partnership Committee (NPC). She shared information about FrameWork, the city of Tuscaloosa’s comprehensive plan, which will include an update to the city zoning code that was last updated in 1972. The plan will be used by the city to frame programs that occur within the city, as well as some of the city’s laws. Prewitt invited all present to be a part of the comprehensive plan by providing their feedback, which will give guidance in terms of long-term decision-making. She noted that since the last time the city plan was updated a decade ago, we have experienced a global recession, the 2011 tornado — which impacted 12 percent of the city — and tremendous population growth in Tuscaloosa.

Prewitt encouraged attendance at a community event that will take place Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 6 p.m. The event, called “Forum on the Future,” is a planned two-hour workshop that seeks input from those with an interest in the future of Tuscaloosa. This includes students. All are encouraged to register in advance at to aid the organizers in accommodating all who wish to participate. NPC has spent the past several months planning for this event, which will take place at the Tuscaloosa River Market. For more information, contact Prewitt at

Dr. Pruitt gave an update on national engagement scholarship, reporting that the 2018 Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) annual conference and pre-conference took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota in late September and early October. He said that this year, the first pre-conference event for community-engagement professionals was held, with an expectation of 25 attendees. Fifty people attended, placing this event on the agenda in the future. Additionally, this conference included the first awards program, with this year’s institutional award going to the University of Wisconsin-Extension. The award in 2019 will be presented to The Ohio State University at the annual conference, which will be held in Denver, Colorado.

Additionally, ESC is planning to hold regional conferences in the future and has put out an RFP for institutions that are part of ESC and that are interested in hosting such conferences. Pruitt explained that the idea behind this is to be sensitive to the fact that not everyone can obtain funding to attend a national conference. This will also present a unique opportunity to engage more students and community partners in those areas. Additionally, this will help ESC get back to its roots when it hosted national conferences on college campuses — something that is no longer possible because of the growth of the Consortium membership. These regional conferences will help us to not lose the original tone and framework of ESC. Additionally, Pruitt would love to see an RFP to bring students together for a regional conference.

ESC will also provide seed funding to faculty members from across the country who have projects in engaged scholarship. The consortium will fund anywhere from $500 up to $5,000 per grant. That RFP will be in circulation by February 1, 2019. This model will be framed much like our Council awards program at UA.

Dr. Pruitt also shared that he recently attended a conference at The University of Tennessee, for the purpose of discussing engaged scholarship. He said one question that kept coming up was how UA came up with the idea for its Council on Community-Based Partnerships. Many institutions are interested in the Council model and how we connect our students through programs like SCOPE (Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership and Engagement). What we are doing at The University of Alabama is being noticed nationwide.

Dr. Hlebowitsh concluded the meeting with announcements as follows, encouraging everyone to save the dates and mark their calendars.

Future Council meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Thursday, February 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. — Bryant Conference Center, Rast Room B
  • Thursday, March 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. — Ferguson Center, Room 3104

The 13th Annual Excellence Awards and SCOPE Showcase are scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2019 — Ferguson Student Center

We are planning to host the 3rd annual New Faculty Engagement Tour in May 2019. Dates will be announced.

Meeting was adjourned at 12:45 p.m.

Visit for future Council updates.

The Council exists to connect faculty, staff, students and community partners in research-based projects designed to solve critical problems identified collaboratively by community members and the University. All academic disciplines, as well as a number of students and community members, are represented on the Council. The Council conducts an awards program, oversees project funding, proposes methods to integrate teaching and research and seeks outside funding, all with the goal of fulfilling the Division of Community Affairs’ motto: “Engaging Communities and Changing Lives.”

PLA and TLA Hold First Joint Meeting of Academy Year

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The University of Alabama’s Parent Leadership Academy and the Teacher Leadership Academy held a joint session at the Bryant Conference Center Thursday, Nov. 1. This was the first joint meeting of the Academy year where parents and teachers began the work of planning their school’s PTLA Partnership Projects. Each school’s project is collaboratively planned between parents and teachers and is based on an identified need from the school’s improvement plan.

Dr. Holly Morgan, CCBP community education and PTLA program director, welcomed attendees, thanking them for their effort and commitment to the students who will benefit from the program. Morgan also reviewed the first PTLA session, “Parents and Teachers as Leaders,” and reminded teams that their commitment was to initially grow themselves as leaders before building capacity in others.

The title of the second session of the PTLA Academy year was “Goal-Oriented School, Family, and Community Partnerships.” This session emphasized the elements needed for strong partnerships based on the current research available. Marsha Greenfeld, senior program facilitator of the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS) at Johns Hopkins University, was the guest speaker. She conducted a motivating workshop session titled: “You Matter and What You Do Matters: Partnerships Help Make the Difference!”

She stressed the significance and importance of building strong and enduring partnerships among schools, families and communities to ensure students’ success. “We have to make sure that everybody has a piece in it,” Greenfeld said. She also introduced the NNPS leadership model and discussed the qualities of leadership. Research shows partnerships are important because they enhance student learning and strengthen schools, she said.

The final portion of the evening was devoted to project planning for all school teams. Parents and teachers reviewed school improvement plans, discussed goals, and began the process of developing project descriptions and project action plans. Project proposals will be delivered at the final session of the Academy on March 7, 2019.

PTLA is a leadership program that provides selected parents and teachers with opportunities to develop their knowledge and abilities as leaders within their school communities. School principals select the participating parents.