Category: News

Mathews Center to Host Forum on High School Dropouts

By Kirsten J. Barnes
Center for Community-Based Partnerships

A David Mathews Center forum entitled "Our Community, Our Future: The Role of Citizens in Solving the High School Dropout Problem" will be held March 6, at Auburn University-Montgomery's Taylor Center from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Registration is free and lunch will be served. To register click here.

During the past 10 years, Alabama's high school dropout rate has plunged from 15.58 percent to 7.08 percent, according to figures for 2008"“2009 released by the Alabama Department of Education. The national dropout rate for the same period was 8.1 percent.

Chris McCauley, executive director of the David Mathews Center for Civic Life in Montevallo, hopes the forums sponsored by the center will help uncover ways that communities can reduce the rate even further.

In recent months the center polled Alabamians and asked questions concerning public issues that citizens could come together to address, McCauley said. "We were working toward what public issue concerned Alabamians the most."

The two issues that emerged were the dropout rate and the economy."

The dropout rate seemed to be a more manageable topic, so the center conducted forums in 28 counties on the issue.

McCauley said the forums were not meant to solve the problem, but instead to help community members talk through the retention rate to develop ways to solve the issue as a community.

"The Mathews Center doesn't take a stance on the issues. It's up to the people in the community to come up with the ideas. We provide factual data and a framework to deliberate and think through what they can do. A lot of great ideas come up," McCauley said, including youth mentoring programs and additional support services for single parents.

State officials welcome this effort by the Mathews Center.

"The forums are having an absolute major impact on the dropout rate," said Kay Atchinson Warfield, an education administrator with the dropout prevention and support unit of the Alabama Department of Education. "What we have found is that the public does not understand all the variables that impact the success of a student."

She said by raising the level of awareness in the community these forums can directly affect students by informing their parents.

"These public forums have provided a level of awareness that has never been done in our state before. It's everybody's issue," said Warfield, who has actively participated in the process.  "The schools cannot do it alone. We've got to have partnerships with public services because it takes us all working together to have an impact."

Both McCauley and Warfield said they were amazed by the ideas that came out these community conversations.

"Central High School in Phenix City had some of the most innovative students thus far," McCauley said. "The students produced a documentary of the dropout rate in Phenix City and will present this at AUM."

The forums are modeled after the Kettering Foundation's National Issues Forums.

"The goal is to work with citizens across the state and get them to take action on issues that that impact them," McCauley said. "We outline some of the contributing factors and some of the outcomes. For example, there is a correlation between the dropout rate and prison population. We give citizens the opportunity to come together and work toward solving problems in unique ways. It's an action driven project."

Spring Creative Writing Club Schedule Announced

By Kirsten Barnes
Center for Community-Based Partnerships

TUSCALOOSA "” The Creative Writing Club for Tuscaloosa area high school students grades 9"“12 has announced its spring schedule. Sponsored by the University of Alabama's Master of Fine Arts, the club will meet 4:30"“6 p.m. in Room 301 Morgan Hall each Wednesday, beginning February 1 and ending April 25. The spring session will conclude with a group reading and publication of an anthology of all participants’ writing.

“The Creative Writing Club is a great way for high school kids interested in writing to meet others who share that interest," said Robin Behn, professor of English and director of the club. "The emphasis is on fun and trying new things with writing in a stimulating environment. Most kids who come the first day want to bring all their friends the next week!”

The 12-week program is free and allows young writers to work closely with published poets and prose writers from one of the country's premiere creative writing programs.

In addition to the after school program, a two-week Creative Writing Camp is held every year in June. The Creative Writing Camp meets daily, Monday through Friday afternoons, for two weeks.

To register for the weekly spring sessions, send an email with the student's name, address, phone number, email address, school name and grade level to For more information, visit Registration for the summer camp begins in April.

The program works to inspire student writers from across Tuscaloosa County and is made possible through support from the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, the University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Alabama Department of English, and the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.

2012 Realizing the Dream Legacy Series

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell delivered the keynote address at the Realizing the Dream banquet on Jan. 13. Realizing the Dream awards were also awarded. Click on photos below for more information.


Engaged Scholarship in Walker County


 RESEARCH "“ SERVICE "“ PARTNERSHIP Receive 8 credit hours partnering with Walker County communities! 3 hours for NEW 490 and 5 hours for Summer 2012 internship

Join us for LUNCH and Introductory Q & A, 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, December 7, New College Lounge, Lloyd 216

With New College faculty, Walker Area Community Foundation Executive Director Paul Kennedy; Director of Operations Cristy Moody; and Walker Area Transformational Coalition for Health (WATCH) board member Dr. Karl Hamner, assistant dean of Scholarly Affairs, Capstone College of Nursing and School of Social Work

NEW COLLEGE Spring Course and Summer Community-Based Research Internship

Engaged Scholarship in Walker County

Institutions of higher education and local citizens are rich sources of knowledge for addressing complex, socio-economic issues facing Alabama communities. This academic course/internship provides the opportunity to experience the dynamic work of engaged scholarship by combining UA student academic research and service-learning with the wisdom and civic commitment of community partners in the Walker County area.

The spring 2012 NEW 490 course is a prerequisite for the 5 credit hour, two-month, summer internship in Walker County. It will cover principles and practices in community-based research and civic engagement, and it is specifically designed for the project development necessary for an engaged scholarship experience. Enrollment in this course indicates the intention to live and work as an embedded community-based research intern in Walker County during June and July 2012.

Class meeting times to be determined in consultation with students and Walker County partners. For more information about the course, internship opportunities, and internship application requirements, contact Lane McLelland, or 205-348-2642. To view a presentation of the Summer 2011 pilot internship program given at the Alabama Possible Lifetime of Learning Summit, go to: 

Auburn Announces First Academy for Community & Civic Engagement, May 14-16, 2012

The Community and Civic Engagement Initiative within Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts announces the first annual Academy for Community and Civic Engagement for faculty throughout the southeast in the arts and humanities who are interested in incorporating civic engagement/service learning practices into their courses, outreach scholarship, and P & T documentation. ACCE will provide an intense 3-day workshop for successful applicants.

The purpose of the Academy for Community and Civic Engagement is:

  • To promote and develop community and civic engagement initiatives among faculty and colleges in the region;
  • To encourage faculty to develop courses with civic engagement/service learning experiences for students;
  • To foster collaborative teaching, research, and outreach efforts among faculty and across universities; and
  • To provide resources and support for community and civically engaged faculty.

For more information, contact Dr. Giovanna Summerfield, Associate Dean for Educational Affairs (email:, phone: 334-844-2890), or go to:

UA and the Tuscaloosa VA to partner on student-veteran center on campus

By Andrea Mabry

"With the right opportunities and the right support, you guys can change this country," Derek Blumke explained, during his keynote speech at the University of Alabama Campus Veterans Association reception on September 26. Blumke, the newly named national VA campus outreach coordinator, co-founded the Student Veterans Association while pursuing his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan.

Blumke visited the UA campus soon after the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center (TVAMC) was chosen as the new Veterans Integrated Service Network site for the College/University Outreach to Veterans Initiative. The program will "build resilience with student veterans on campus, facilitate adjustment to and success in academic life, and increase access to high-quality mental health resources" to veterans, according to Maia A. Lee, administrative officer of the Mental Health Service Line at TVAMC.

In order to give veterans the opportunities and support that Blumke finds so important, the UA Office of Community Affairs will partner with the VA Medical Center to develop and grow the Veteran-Student Academic Wellness Program. The new center will work with various outfits of UA to create a place that will comprehensively meet veterans' needs, including the Family Transition Center and Counseling Services.

The initial program will enroll 20-25 student veterans, and will expand outreach efforts each year thereafter. Currently, there are approximately 600 veterans and veterans' dependents enrolled at the University of Alabama, according to the project proposal.

Blumke presented the keynote address at the reception on Sept. 26 in order to stress to veterans the importance of creating a center like the Veteran-Student Academic Wellness Program.

His major goal, which is why he began the student organization and which is his focus at his new job at Veterans Affairs, is to make sure veterans are getting the programs they earned with their service to the country. There is a huge difference between having programs available to veterans and making sure they are receiving those benefits, Blumke stressed. He strives to assist with the creation of centers at universities and VA hospitals where student veterans can join a community during their transition back into civilian life.

Blumke began by telling about his eventual enrollment at the University of Michigan following his service in the United States Air Force. As a veteran, he felt dissociated from the campus in Ann Arbor, which set him on the path to create a better environment for veterans like himself.

A major reason for creating the Student Veterans Association was to help veterans realize their potential. "You have unique skill sets that you can use at home," Blumke said, "many of you can do a lot of incredible things but you don't know it."

CCBP Seed Funds 2011

TO: UA Faculty and Staff

FROM: Dr. Samory T. Pruitt



To view or print a PDF version of the Seed Funds application, click here.

To view a PDF of Dr. Pruitt’s letter, click here.


On behalf of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, I am pleased

to announce our sixth call for Seed Fund projects.


This program has been an outstanding success, returning to the campus

more than $12 for each $1 awarded, or more than $2.5 million since 2006.

Congratulations to all of you previous winners.


And I also want to congratulate the Proposal Support Committee who make

the funding recommendations to me. Led by Annette Watters, this committee

has recognized the potential in work that has now been published in the

nation's finest engaged scholarship journals, including our own JCES, and

been featured at the leading engaged-scholarship conferences nationally and



With this letter is a one-sheet, back and front, application form with

instructions. We have tried to keep the requirements simple and hope that

many of you will submit your proposals right away. The deadline to get your

no-more-than-six-page application to my office is Wednesday, September 21.

Next spring we will have an online form and a deadline that will allow us to

recognize the winners at our annual Awards Luncheon and you to get your

project going before fall semester begins.


Best of luck in 2011"“2012.


Job Opportunity: IUPUI Center for Service and Learning

Executive Director, IUPUI Center for Service and Learning

IUPUI, an outstanding public urban research university located in the heart of Indianapolis, seeks applicants for the Executive Director of the IUPUI Center for Service and Learning. IUPUI, serving over 30,000 students including 21,000 undergraduate students, has become a national leader in promoting civic engagement and has been nationally recognized; including three Presidential Awards for Community Service, the 2006 Carnegie Foundation Classification for Community Engagement, two Saviors of our City citations, recognition in Colleges with a Conscience, and US News and World Report recognition for service learning each year since 2002.
The Center for Service and Learning (CSL) is one of three IUPUI learning-based centers that also include the Center for Research and Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning.  The executive directors of three centers report to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
The Executive Director (ED) provides vision and leadership to the CSL, exercises fiscal responsibility over budgets and grants, provides oversight for the operations of the Center, and its staff and programs. The ED collaborates with other campus units on teaching, research and service as it relates to civic engagement, conducts research on issues related to civic engagement in higher education, and expands campus capacity to assess and conduct scholarship on civic engagement. The ED promotes CSL's work on campus, nationally and internationally.
Because the successful candidate will assume a tenured, senior faculty appointment in an appropriate academic discipline, a Ph.D. or equivalent terminal degree is required.  At least five years of supervisory, program leadership, and/or academic administrative experience in a relevant position is expected, as are experiences in working closely with academic and support service units, appreciating and advocating for diversity, inclusion, and equal access to educational opportunity. The successful candidate will have teaching experience (including service learning courses), faculty development experience, and a strong record of scholarship including the development of significant grant proposals and success in securing external funding.
Candidates are invited to submit an electronic application that includes:
·         a letter of application ,
·         a philosophy statement that frames the candidate's views on how to advance civic engagement and transformative campus-community collaborations in higher education and as part of  IUPUI's campus culture,
·         a curriculum vitae, and
·         The names and contact information of three references.
Review of applications will begin October 1, 2011, and continue until the position is filled with an anticipated starting date on or before July 1, 2012.  IUPUI is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer, M/F/D.
Applications should be sent electronically to Ms. Susan Christian, Academic Support Specialist, Office of Academic Affairs, at  A detailed position description may be viewed at  Direct any questions to Dr. Mary L. Fisher, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at, or 317-278-1846.

International Expert on Rebuilding After Disasters Visiting Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA "” An international expert on rebuilding after disasters, Dr. Adenrele Awotona, a University of Massachusetts professor who directs the Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters, is in Tuscaloosa for two days (Wednesday and Thursday, June 29-30) to lead a workshop for area and university officials and citizens.

The College of Education and the Division of Community Affairs are co-sponsors of the workshop, which focuses on children and their families. The workshop covers such issues as assessment of impact, identifying children needs before, during and after disasters; developing a comprehensive post-tornado action plan; and future disaster risk reduction, said Dr. Rick Houser, professor and head of the Department of Education Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology and Counseling.

"The aim of the workshop is to ensure that the needs and priorities of children are integrated into official reconstruction policies," Houser said.

About 75 individuals representing cities, counties, schools, churches, foundations, businesses, neighborhood organizations, academic and service departments are on hand for the workshop.

Dr. Samuel Addy, director of UA's Center for Business and Economic Research, released a six-page study to participants that estimates the economic and fiscal impact of the April tornadoes. Addy's report is careful to point out that these are estimates and that all of the storm effects are temporary.

"¢ 6,000 unemployed, but after returns and other factors, reduces to 3,761 as a direct effect of the tornado.

"¢ Jobs temporarily lost range from about 5,600 to 13,200.

"¢ Total lost earnings, $219 million to $508 million

"¢ Taxes lost, $19 million to $44 million

"¢ Recovery activities (cleanup, assistance, rebuilding, etc.) will pump $2.6 billion into the state economy in 2011. These funds will come mostly from insurance and federal sources.

"¢ Another $2 to $3 billion in rebuilding will continue into 2012, resulting in about 37,000 to 74,000 jobs and $1 to $2+ billion in earnings for an average of about $32,000 per worker and $63 to $126 million in state income and sales taxes and $24 to $47 million in local sales tax receipts

All of this "will generate enough revenue to cover damage-induced losses to state finances as well as the state spending for cleanup," if assumptions hold, according to the report by Addy and Ahmad Ijaz, CBER director of economic forecasting.


CCBP Awards Ceremony 2011 in Pictures

Faculty and staff, students and community partners convened for the fifth Center for Community-Based Partnerships Awards Ceremony in Tuscaloosa on April 22.

Representatives of the Community Affairs Division of The University of Alabama presented awards for outstanding engagement activities initiated by students, faculty, and partners. David Wilson, the keynote speaker and president of Morgan State University, accepted an award for leadership in engaged scholarship.

More information to follow in subsequent posts.