June 19, 2007
TUSCALOOSA "“ The University of Alabama has been invited to join an elite national organization that recognizes the University's achievements in outreach scholarship.
UA becomes the fifth member of the Outreach Scholarship Partnership (OSP). Others are Ohio State University, the University of Georgia, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Wisconsin Colleges/University of Wisconsin-Extension. All are national leaders in partnerships that unify teaching, research and service.
"This invitation is significant in that it puts the University on par with the nation's best in outreach scholarship. Further, it gives us resources that will make our programs even stronger," said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, UA vice president for community affairs, in accepting the membership.
Pruitt said UA's Center for Community-Based Partnerships played a major role in the University's invitation. "CCBP focuses University expertise on the most critical social and economic problems identified by community partners," he said.
CCBP and its council "“ made up of 50 faculty, staff, student and community members representing most UA disciplines and many community organizations "“ coordinate engagement scholarship for the campus.
Activities include an annual awards program, research grants, a research journal, a newsletter and a Web site, ccbp.ua.edu.
"I am pleased to see the teaching and research of our faculty used to enrich communities through partnerships such as these," said Dr. Judy Bonner, UA executive vice president and provost. "And I am especially pleased that our students, working with their faculty mentors, are getting such a wonderful opportunity to reinforce their classroom experience while improving the lives of others."
Among 2007 CCBP projects are The West End Journal, a partnership of UA, Stillman College, The Tuscaloosa News and the Alabama Press Association. With staff composed of students and community residents, WEJ and www.wej.com cover news and information vital to thousands in an underserved section of Tuscaloosa. WEJ was one of nine projects recognized at CCBP's first awards program in April.
UA's Dr. Edward Mullins and Stillman's Amanda Brozana have been invited to present their WEJ research at the Outreach Scholarship Conference in Madison, Wis., Oct. 5-7. Other UA presenters at the conference include Dr. Heather Pleasants, College of Education; Dr. Lisa Shaul, Honors College; Dr. Marsha Adams, Capstone College of Nursing, and Dr. Scott Bridges and Bethany Collins, Creative campus. The conference, one of the main benefits of OSP membership, showcases the nation's top engagement projects.
In his invitation to UA, Ohio State's vice president for university outreach, Dr. Bobby D. Moser, said membership gives UA a position on OSP's steering and implementation committees and puts UA in line to be a future host of the national conference. Membership also affiliates UA with the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, the top scholarly journal in the field.
Another CCBP-affiliated program is the Rural Health Research Consortium, a National Institutes of Health initiative to improve health care in rural communities. Dr. John Higginbotham and Pamela Payne-Foster, M.D., are UA's principal investigators in this project.
Others include water sanitation in Hale County by the College of Engineering, a language lab for Hispanics new to the community, entrepreneurial outreach for businesses and schools in rural Alabama by the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, and a mentoring program for future UA college students from the Black Belt by the School of Social Work.
Dr. Estelle Ryan Clavelli, CCBP associate director of community education, who is in charge of the English Language Lab, says it has been one of the most popular offerings of the new center.
"The number of Hispanics in Alabama has been growing dramatically," Clavelli said, "and they have found a much-needed resource in our lab, which has been drawing as many as 50 visitors a week."
Pruitt said getting a new home for the campus' engagement activities (the Cannon House, 824 4th Avenue, near the Sheraton Hotel on campus) has helped greatly. "However, we are already about to outgrow it. But that's what you would like to see in a new program."
Pruitt, who holds bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees from UA, was named vice president for community affairs in 2004. In addition to serving as CCBP executive director, he oversees the University's Equal Opportunity Programs, Crossroads Community Center, the Martin Luther King Realizing the Dream committee, and other campus and external community activities.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is in the midst of planned, steady enrollment growth with a goal of reaching 28,000 students by 2010. 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.