10th Annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

Photos by Jianlong Yang and Fuyan Zhang
CCBP Student Assistants

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2016 Poster Session
Record Number of Research Posters Submitted for 2016 Awards Program.
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By Taylor Armer
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Dr. David Francko, dean of the Graduate School and associate provost, was among those honored at the University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships’ (CCBP) 10th annual Excellence in Community Engagement luncheon Friday, April 29.

Award recipients, UA leaders, community partners, alumni, faculty, staff and students all gathered in Sellers Auditorium of the Bryant Conference Center to attend the program’s largest awards luncheon to date.

Vice President for Community Affairs Dr. Samory Pruitt surprised Dean Francko when he called him to the stage to receive the 2016 Distinguished Special Achievement in Community Engagement award, the organization’s highest award.

“We tried to keep it a secret,” Pruitt said. “There’s no one more deserving of this award. His name is synonymous with our work at CCBP.”

The award commemorated Francko’s dedicated service as the inaugural chair of the CCBP executive committee, a group that enabled Pruitt to decentralize many of the CCBP program activities.

“Working with CCBP and serving on the executive committee has been one of the highlights of my career,” Francko said. “It has been a pleasure.”

Special guests for the occasion were more than 30 members of the newly selected Community Affairs Board of Advisors, meeting in Tuscaloosa for the first time. The group consists of high-achieving UA graduates who will advise Community Affairs on campus-wide initiatives that increase student success and retention and facilitate student involvement in entrepreneurship, innovation and development of global and community leaders by mentoring current students and assisting in the recruitment of outstanding future leaders.

Tera “Cee Cee” Johnson, a CCBP student employee, received the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship for her work with many of the CCBP programs. Johnson’s character and loyalty to the Center reflected key attributes of the late Zach Dodson, the CCBP work-study student for whom the scholarship is named.

Calia Torres, Johnson’s co-chair on the Center’s Student Involvement and Support Committee, received the student Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar award. Her graduate fellowship with SCOPE (Students for Community Outreach, Partnership, and Engagement) and community partnership with Whatley Health Services were listed among her many contributions to the community.

Dr. Beverly Thorn, professor in the department of psychology, received the faculty Distinguished Community Scholar award, in part for her work with Federally Health Qualified Centers, including Whatley. A nominator remarked Dr. Thorn “truly cares about the people with whom she works,” making “her an effective and trustworthy researcher and leader (in forging) collaborative relationships and partnerships.”

One of Thorn’s community partnerships has been with Ms. Deborah Tucker, chief executive officer of Whatley Health Services, who received the community partner Distinguished Engaged Scholar for her outstanding health services leadership across the state.

Dr. George Daniels, chair of the Excellence in Community Engagement Awards Committee, presented awards in seven categories. They are as follows:

· Dr. Beverly Thorn, professor of psychology, Outstanding Community-Engaged Scholarship/Faculty.

· Dr. Rebecca S. Allen, professor of psychology — Outstanding Community-Engaged Scholarship/Faculty.

· Ms. Teri Henley, advertising and public relations instructor — Outstanding Community-Engaged Scholarship/Faculty.

· Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost for International Education and Global Outreach — Outstanding Community-Engaged Scholarship/Faculty.

· Ms. Fan Yang, social work doctoral student — Outstanding Community-Engaged Scholarship/Student.

· Ms. Alberta McCrory, mayor of Hobson City, Ala. — Outstanding Community-Engaged Scholarship/Community Partner.

· Mr. Buddy Kirk, Ms. Patti Presley-Fuller, and Mr. Alan Harper — Pickens County Friends of the Hospital, Outstanding Community-Engaged Scholarship/Community Partner.

Daniels also recognized seed fund recipients Dr. Natasha Dimova and Dr. Yuehan Lu, assistant professors of geological sciences. Dr. Dimova’s project, “Establishing Alabama GeoKids Initiative,” will develop a curriculum for teaching Earth Science to minorities and underrepresented student groups in the Tuscaloosa area. Dr. Lu’s project, “Determining Sources and Quality of Inorganic and Organic Nutrients Exported from Agricultural Watersheds,” will work to identify non-point sources of organic and inorganic nutrients in the state’s agricultural watersheds.

Dr. Rebecca Allen, chair of the Faculty Teaching and Research Support Committee, recognized graduate fellowship recipients for work promoting community engagement. They are Ms. Andrea Newman, psychology doctoral student; Ms. Megan Briggs, geography master’s student; and Ms. Jessica M. Bertram, social work doctoral student.

Dr. Jen Nickelson, chair of the academic conference and presentation support committee, recognized Ms. Lindsay Turner, executive director of the Druid City Garden Project as the 2015-16 travel fund award winner. Turner will present her research “Longitudinal Effects of an Elementary School Garden Program on Children’s Health, Food Choices, School Engagement, and Learning” at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, June 2-4, in Madison, Wisc.

Dr. Nickelson also recognized the 21 research poster presentations, the most ever accepted, that were displayed before, during and after the awards luncheon. 

            In wrapping up the awards ceremony, Dr. Pruitt underscored the success of community engagement at the University over the past 10 years. After thanking program master of ceremonies Dr. Ed Mullins, CCBP director of communication and research, for his years of service to the awards program, Dr. Pruitt congratulated all of those recognized for their accomplishments.

            “To change the world, you first have to change your part of the world,” Pruitt said. “What you’ve seen and heard in the projects and recognitions today represents our efforts at changing our part of the world.”