Category: Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

Council Hosts 15th Annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

Diane Kennedy-Jackson
Publications Coordinator
Division of Community Affairs

The Council on Community-Based Partnerships hosted its 15th Excellence in Community Engagement Awards April 20–22. These annual awards recognize outstanding engaged scholarship work, which combines the familiar traditions of teaching, research and service in equitable partnerships with communities external to the campus, with the goal of creating sustained, positive change in both the community and the academy.

“The annual awards recognition aims to bring deserved attention to the remarkable individual efforts that embody the endeavors of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships,” said Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the College of Education and chair of the executive committee of the Council. “It is simultaneously a celebration and a serious acknowledgment of the innovative and life-reaching work being conducted by and through this body. It is also an opportunity to fête our wonderful partners.”

The first day of this year’s event took place on a virtual platform and featured highlights from the Student Community Engagement Center and recognition of Leadership Academy participants and anchor organizations, as well as poster presentations and the announcement of the 2021 Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship recipient.

Chris Brewster, a Pinson, Alabama native, received the Dodson Scholarship. A sophomore accounting major, Brewster has worked at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) since his freshman year, helping with both the Global Café initiative and the Center’s Vision Days program.

Research poster presenters and their projects are:

Emefa Butler, founder of Choice, Inc., Two Miles on Twelve,

Baili Gall, doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology, A Community-Engaged Approach to Teaching Nutritional Anthropology: A Collaboration with Schoolyard Roots,

Zev L. Goldberg, undergraduate student in the Department of Health Science, An Anchor Institution’s Asset-Building Approach to Promoting Homeownership,

Lillian Slaughter, undergraduate student in the Department of Biology, Community-Led Maternal and Infant Health Research Needs Assessment,

Kate Taylor, master’s student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, Vision Days Legacy, Connecting First-Year Undergraduates to the Community, and

Andrea Ziegler, director for community education, CCBP, Community Engagement to Boost Virtual Professional Development in the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy.

The second day of the program, also held virtually, included the announcement of seed fund recipients for 2021, as well as reports from 2020 recipients and travel fund recipients who traveled in 2020 just prior to the pandemic.

Recipients of 2021 seed fund awards are:

Tracey Hodges, assistant professor, elementary education program, for Increasing Teacher Self-Efficacy for Writing Instruction Through a Professional Development Focused on Ani-Racist Writing Instructional Practices, and

Haley Townsend, instructor, Capstone College of Nursing, for Empowering Young Women in Rural Alabama through Menstrual Hygiene Outreach.

Recipients of 2020 seed fund awards shared their work via prerecorded videos and also participated in the Zoom meeting live to answer questions. They are:

While travel funds are not currently being awarded due to travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic, those who joined the second day of the celebration had the opportunity to hear from two UA students, Marvin Adams and Matteo Zengaro, who previously received travel support and traveled pre-pandemic to Elon University for Campus Compact’s Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement Conference. (Travel funding will resume when travel restrictions are lifted. For more information, visit

The final day of the awards program occurred in a hybrid setting, with award recipients and presenters participating in a socially distanced and masked in-person event in the Bryant Conference Center Rast Room, while others viewed the program via a live Zoom feed.

Dr. Ed Mullins, retired dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences and director of research and communication at CCBP, welcomed those in attendance. Dr. Stuart R. Bell, UA president, and Dr. James T. Dalton, executive vice president and provost, congratulated award recipients and shared their thoughts on the importance of engaged scholarship.

Dr. George Daniels, associate professor of journalism and creative media and chair of the Excellence in Community Engagement Recognition Committee of the Council, shared a recap of the first two days of the program and then invited Dr. Rebecca Allen, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology and chair of the Council’s Faculty Teaching and Research Support Committee, to announce the recipients of community engagement graduate fellowships for the upcoming academic year.

“The committee had the distinct pleasure of reviewing and selecting these exceptional projects,” said Allen. “We are forever grateful to Dr. Susan Carvalho, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School, for providing the funding to make these graduate fellowships possible and for her continued support of this program. Dr. Carvalho had a prior commitment today. We are grateful that Dr. André Denham, associate dean for graduate academic affairs, is able to join us to congratulate our award recipients.”

Graduate fellowship award recipients for 2021 are:

Heather Gunn, doctoral student Alexandra Fischer, for Sleep of Mothers in Pickens County/Psychosocial and Sleep Health Needs of Mothers of Infants and Young Children of Pickens County,

Joy Douglas, doctoral student Phatt Thaitrong, for Supporting Brain Injury Survivors and their Caregivers: A Community Engagement Project,

Laura Hopson, doctoral student Gloria Abura, for UA-SMART Student Health Partnership to Promote Student Health and Wellbeing through Community-Engaged Intervention and Evaluation, and

Susan White, doctoral student Alexis Brewe, for Community-Based Programming for Transition-Aged Youth with Autism.


Recipients of Excellence Awards for Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort include:

League of Women Voters of Greater Tuscaloosa, Ms. Carol Pricket, and

STEM Showcase, Dr. Yuping Bao, Karrie Curry and Andrea Ziegler


Recognized for Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort are:

High School Stem Innovation Course, Gabi Dwyer, Jessi Gentrup, Josh Lambert, Phillip Myers, Payti Harrison and Drew Cheek, and Elizabeth Jernigan, instructor of marketing,

Leave It To Us, Michael Arundel, Lauren Shilling and Abbie Ray, and UA graduate Ibukun Afon, and

Vote Everywhere UA, Samuel Reece


Recipients of Excellence Awards for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort include:

Two Miles on Twelve, Dr. Michael Callihan, assistant professor, Capstone College of Nursing,

SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt (and Beyond), Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, Foster-EBSCO Endowed Professor, School of Library and Information Sciences, and

Political Primaries & Caucuses course, Dr. Cynthia Peacock, assistant professor, Department of Communication Studies.

Four individuals received Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar Awards. These awards are presented to individuals with a record of sustained, distinguished and superb achievement in public service and engagement in community-based partnership efforts that have made outstanding contributions to the quality of life in Alabama. The award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond in support of one or more community-based partnership projects or whose work demonstrates superior understanding, appreciation and support of community-based partnership efforts. The award has previously been presented to a community partner, a student, and a faculty or staff member. For the first time, the latter category has been split to include two awards: one for a faculty member and one for a staff member.

The 2021 Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar award recipients are:

LaKeda Smith, executive director of the Benjamin Barnes YMCA in Tuscaloosa, Community Partner,

Jake Peterson, a first-year doctoral student in the College of Education’s kinesiology department, Student,

Martha Crowther, associate dean for research and health policy in the College of Community Health Sciences, Faculty, and

Pamela Young, director of community engagement and economic development in the College of Arts and Sciences, Staff.

Each year one individual receives the Outstanding Special Achievement in Community Engagement Award. Dr. Peter S. Hlebowitsh is the 2021 recipient, in recognition of his outstanding campus, community, state and national leadership and his support of community-engaged scholarship as dean of the College of Education and chair of the executive committee of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships, and for his tireless passion for improving the quality of life in communities while supporting valuable research and learning opportunities for faculty, students, staff and community partners.

For more information on the 2021 awards, visit


To view each day of the awards program visit:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Council Announces 2020 Excellence Awards Recipients

Each spring, the Council on Community-Based Partnerships hosts its Excellence in Community Engagement Awards program to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements in community-engaged scholarship while also underwriting future support.

The 14th annual awards ceremony, scheduled for April 15, 2020, had to be postponed because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. However, in the typical can-do spirit of community engagement professionals, the Council moved the awards program online in order to share the great news of the life-changing work taking place in our communities. Later this year when safe to do so, the Council plans to honor award recipients in person. Meantime, we invite you to learn about the people and their projects below and to visit our Council Awards website to learn more about the work of this talented group of students, community partners, faculty and staff.

Engaged scholarship combines the familiar traditions of teaching, research and service in equitable partnerships with communities external to the campus. The projects emphasize practical themes and are conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect for, and understanding of, partners’ strengths, weaknesses and needs. These partnerships have a goal of creating sustained, positive change in both the community and the academy.

The Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar Award is presented in three categories — community partner, student, and faculty/staff — and recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond in support of one or more community-based partnership projects or whose work demonstrates superior understanding, appreciation and support of community-based partnership efforts.

Dr. Michael J. Daria, superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools, is this year’s community partner recipient. Known for his children-first philosophy, Daria led the adoption of the Strategic Plan for City Schools, designed to put Tuscaloosa City Schools in the highest ranks by ensuring the success of all students by attracting, retaining and rewarding the best employees, and by providing facilities for an optimal learning environment. Graduate student Xiangyan “Sophia” Xiong is the student recipient. She has served as a journalist in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) for the past three years, much of that time as a volunteer, helping to tell the stories of community engagement work being done through the Center. The faculty/staff award recipient is Dr. Jeff Gray, professor of computer science and a national leader in computer science education. Gray has worked tirelessly to bring computer science education to public schools over the past 20 years, with special attention to bringing these skills to underserved populations. He is a role model for those who wish to have a greater impact on their communities.

Excellence Awards for Outstanding Engagement Effort are also presented in the community partner, student and faculty/staff categories. These awards recognize projects that successfully demonstrate strong synergistic collaboration between the University and community organizations and/or extend the classroom experience.

Receiving the 2020 awards for Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort are Sowing Seeds of Hope and Fuse Project.

A continuing partnership between Dr. Chapman Greer’s University of Alabama business communications class and Perry County’s Sowing Seeds of Hope, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit under the direction of Frances Ford, has resulted in the completion of a feasibility study for the addition of a critical access hospital in the county, which has been without emergency services for more than two decades. The study was needed to acquire essential funding, request a change in the state’s health plan and obtain a certificate of need. The partnership illustrates the best in community/university cooperation and partnership, giving students the opportunity to take their education to the field to provide a valuable public service.

The 501(c)(3) Fuse Project in Mobile was founded in 2012 to benefit children along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Its founders believed a small, motivated group could have a big impact through realistic projects. In Mobile, where a child from the richest ZIP code lives 25 years longer than one from the poorest, Fuse Project has raised more than $2 million to support the work of 45 local projects. Its major achievement is the creation of Fuse Factory, which provides individualized office and event space from which organizations can collectively expand their reach and carry out their mission. We recognize four members of the Fuse Project team: Ann-Brooks Morrissette, Freddie Stokes, Grant Zarzour and Matt Zarzour.

Receiving the 2020 awards for Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort are Hands in Health and UASpace.

Hands in Health, under the leadership of its president Devin O’Neal and the advisement of Dr. Jen Nickelson, is a multidisciplinary student organization housed in the College of Human Environmental Sciences at The University of Alabama. Founded in April 2019, the organization is open to any UA student with an interest in public, community or UA health, regardless of grades or major. Its purpose is to advance the professional competency and dedication of individual members who have an interest in health and wellness, and it provides both undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to gain experience in health-related service, teaching, advocacy and research.

UASpace, a multidisciplinary student organization open not only to science and engineering students but to all students at the University, is pursuing a goal of making The University of Alabama a space-faring university by successfully launching and placing a very small satellite — called a CubeSat — in orbit around the earth. Not only do these students hope to put a satellite into space, they also are sharing their knowledge and passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with students in Alabama’s Black Belt communities in hopes of inspiring the next generation of students to pursue STEM fields.

Receiving the 2020 awards for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort are the Biology Outreach Program and SMART™ Clinic.

The goal of the Biology Outreach Program is to raise the awareness of environmental issues such as animal conservation, clean water and food production. This program, under the direction of Christine Jeana Yates, also helps K–12 students learn the science behind nutrition, dental hygiene, and heart, ear and eye health. Studies show that providing young children a strong science foundation results in higher achievement in middle and high school and provides them with more career opportunities in the sciences. Student volunteers play a key role in the program by helping K–12 students increase their science literacy, self-esteem and school attendance. The students also learn what it is like to be a secondary educator in the science areas, where there are chronic shortages. To date, the program has produced five secondary science educators.

SMART™, which stands for School Health Model for Academics Reaching ALL Transforming Lives, is a national whole-child physical, emotional and mental health program focused on the well-being of students in the context of the school community. This award recognizes the implementation of the SMART™ Student Health Clinic in Reform Elementary School in Pickens County, led by Dr. Laura M. Hopson and Dr. Karl Hamner. The program’s purpose — called by many experts as a “revolutionary” educational health plan — is to prevent, screen and manage all health risks in schools, thus reducing barriers to academic success. Just six months after opening the SMART™ center in Pickens County, chronic absenteeism had dropped 55%, attendance increased substantially and standardized test scores were on the rise.

Four seed fund award recipients have been named for 2020. The purpose of seed funding is to provide start-up funding support for community engagement research and scholarship.

Dr. Carol Donovan, professor in UA’s College of Education and director of the Belser-Parton Literacy Center, will receive funding in the amount of $5,000 for the Young Authors Program and Extravaganza for Improved Writing Achievement and Community Engagement. This year-long project is designed to develop a community of writers within two Tuscaloosa elementary schools and across the Tuscaloosa community. Through preservice teacher development, practicing teacher professional development and community engagement, the plan is to build community in schools already in partnership with UA faculty and students. The project will benefit teachers and students throughout the community, as well as UA student participants from the College of Education. Partners include Dr. Tracey Hodges and Dr. Julianne Coleman, curriculum and instruction; Debbie Crawford, Holt Elementary School; and Gladys Wright and Chenalle Taylor, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School.

Dr. Joy Douglas, assistant professor, department of human nutrition and hospitality management, will receive $2,996.85 for Students Supporting Brain Injury Survivors and their Caregivers: A Community Engagement Project. This collaboration between the Alabama Head Injury Foundation and the University seeks to provide interdisciplinary health and support services to traumatic brain injury survivors and their caregivers in West Alabama, and to make available learning opportunities for students at UA. Partners include Scott Powell of the Alabama Head Injury Foundation, Dr. Rachael Mumbower and Dr. Mercy Mumba, Capstone College of Nursing and Mary Ray-Allen, communicative disorders.

Dr. Holly Horan, assistant professor in the department of anthropology, will receive $2,070 for Measuring the Impact of Community Doula Care in Central Alabama. This project, with partners Dr. Lydia Thurston of Samford University and Dallas Abrams of the non-profit Birthwell Partners Community Doula Project, seeks to co-develop and pilot a prospective data collection tool for doulas affiliated with the Birmingham-based non-profit. Birthwell serves to improve the health of low-resource families and their infants by offering free and reduced-cost childbirth education, breastfeeding assistance and non-medical labor support. A doula is a woman employed to provide guidance and support to a woman during labor.

Dr. Betty Key, assistant professor in the Capstone College of Nursing, will receive $5,000 for Panola Munch and Learn. This partnership with the non-profit Panola Outreach Program will bring healthy food to senior citizens and others and build a sense of community between the town of Panola, in Sumter County, and The University of Alabama as the community gains access to healthy food and information about cardiovascular disease. The community partner for this project is Lovie Parks of the Panola Outreach Program.

Travel Fund Awards provide travel support for the dissemination of community engagement research and scholarship, or for relevant training opportunities. Four individuals will receive awards during this funding cycle.

Dr. Alison Hooper, assistant professor in the department of curriculum and instruction, and Dr. Cheryl Fondren, Success by 6 program director, United Way of West Alabama, will each receive $1,000 to attend the National Research Conference for Early Childhood in Arlington, Virginia, where they will present on Kindergarten Readiness through the JumpStart Summer Program: A Pilot Study.

Dr. Tracey S. Hodges, assistant professor, curriculum and instruction, will be awarded $1,000 to travel to the National Council of Teachers of English in Denver, Colorado, where she will present “Re-Writing Professional Development: Coaching, Facilitating and Co-Creating Writing Competencies through a Researcher-Teacher Partnership Approach.” Her community partner is Hale County Middle School.

Dr. Jen Nickelson, associate professor, department of health science, will receive travel funds in the amount of $906 to attend the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. She will present “Diabetes Literacy through Service Learning in Health Education/Promotion.” Community Partners are The Health Lab, including Paul Dickey and Jackie May, Holt in Action; Jackie McPherson, Holten Heights Church of the Nazarene; and Corey Neill, Soma Church.

Each year graduate fellowships are awarded to assist faculty members in new and ongoing research. For the 2020–2021 academic year, four fellowships will be awarded in research areas ranging from rural wastewater and health concerns to community asset mapping for dementia patients and their caregivers.

Dr. Mark Elliott, associate professor, department of civil, construction and environmental engineering, will receive graduate fellowship funding for his project, In Our Backyard: Engaging with Stakeholders to Address Rural Wastewater Management in the Black Belt of Alabama. This fellowship will support graduate student Jillian Maxcy-Brown in her master’s thesis and doctoral studies as she provides leadership, community relations and coordination with communities where wastewater problems exist. Community Partners are Hillary Beard, Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s office; Sherry Bradley, Alabama Department of Public Health; and Ron Ross, Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization (HERO).

Dr. Karen Johnson, assistant professor, School of Social Work, will receive graduate fellowship funding for Rural-WORTH: Adapting WORTH, an HIV Evidence-based Intervention, to Address Southern-specific Risk Factors Faced by Black, Substance-using, Court-involved Women in Rural Alabama. Southern black women have higher rates of new infection compared with all U.S. women. This project addresses the need to tailor HIV prevention interventions for Southern black women using the latest in research science and intervention; to identify Southern-specific drivers of HIV and to implement interventions in real-world settings. Johnson will be assisted by doctoral student Kefentse Kubanga. Community partners include Robert E. Armstrong, Dallas County district judge; Miah Jackson Dallas County Court Services executive director; and Mel Prince, Selma AIR executive director.

Dr. Mercedes M. Morales-Aleman, assistant professor, community medicine and population health in the Institute for Rural Health Research, College of Community Health Sciences, will receive graduate fellowship funding for The Virtual Promotoras Program: Development and Feasibility of an mHealth Intervention to Promote Sexual Healthcare Access Among Young Latina Women in the U.S. South. Young Latinas are disproportionately affected by sexual health disparities compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts. The Virtual Promotoras Program seeks to address the need for accessible, effective and scalable sexual healthcare for young Latinas. This fellowship will support the work of graduate student Jasmine Nguyen. Community partners are Julia Sosa of Whatley Health Services and Judith Zambrano of Somos Tuscaloosa. The technology partner is the UA Center for Advancing Public Safety.

Dr. Nicole Ruggiano, associate professor, School of Social Work, will be awarded graduate fellowship funding for Planning Live, Sustainable Community Asset Mapping for a Dementia e-Friendly Alabama. This project will collect data from four regions in Alabama to develop a community asset mapping technology application that uses volunteered geographic information to link patients and families to needed services and resources. Community partners include Miller Piggot, Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama; Dr. Daniel Potts, Cognitive Dynamics; and Julie McGee, Alabama Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Doctoral student Yan Luo will work with Dr. Ruggiano.

Kaitlyn “Katie” Johnson is the 2020 recipient of the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

A Rainsville native, she is a junior majoring in anthropology with minors in Latin and Ancient Greek. As part of her duties with the Center for Community-Based Partnerships’ Global Café, Katie serves as a tutor for international scholars, helping them learn conversational English and understand American language and culture.


Dr. Kevin W. Whitaker, executive vice president and provost, has been named the recipient of the Outstanding Special Achievement in Community Engagement Award.

Whitaker, a veteran University of Alabama administrator and faculty member, is being recognized for his superior leadership, exemplary efforts and outstanding vision in fostering and supporting mutually beneficial community-campus partnerships that enhance quality of life for individuals, families and communities, and for encouraging countless others to do the same.

College of Education Dean Peter Hlebowitsh, chair of the executive committee of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships, expressed his thanks to the Graduate School and the Office for Research and Economic Development for their support of the awards program. “Without their interest in and generous financial support of the University’s community engagement efforts, much of the funds for these Council Awards would not exist,” Hlebowitsh said.

Council Hosts Twelfth Annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

The Council on Community-Based Partnerships hosted its Excellence in Community Engagement Awards on April 18 at the Bryant Conference Center with more than 200 people in attendance to share in the celebration of research and service activities of The University of Alabama and its community partners. It was the 12thannual awards ceremony.

The luncheon is a culmination of the efforts of faculty and students working to fulfill the University’s teaching, research and service mission through partnerships with community groups.

Each year this program recognizes faculty, community partners and students who work to change the lives of others through their engagement research efforts by granting seed funds, graduate fellowships, undergraduate scholarships, travel grants and a variety of other activities.

Not only does this event serve to recognize and encourage social consciousness that manifests itself through active problem-solving, this year’s event recognized a person who has been an integral part of CCBP since its inception. CCBP Director of Communication and Research Dr. Edward Mullins was this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Special Achievement in Community Engagement Award.

“Every year with this program I’ve had the opportunity to present the very first award. It’s the highest award that we give and it’s to someone who has made a significant impact on the landscape of community-engaged scholarship and through their work and through their lives have made a tremendous difference in the quality of lives for others,” said Vice President of Community Affairs Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, recalling such past recipients of the award as UA Chancellor Dr. Mack Portera, former UA President Dr. Judy Bonner, and current president of Morgan State University Dr. David Wilson,. “These are all giants and the person who will receive this award today is also a giant.”

Mullins, a retired dean of UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences, according to Pruitt, has dedicated his entire life to helping others achieve their educational potential.

“Years ago,” Pruitt recalled, “when we had this hair-brained idea of trying to do this kind of work on our campus, Ed was retiring from the College of Communication, and he said to me, ‘I’ve got a sense that I know what you’re trying to do, and if you’ll find a corner somewhere in an office with a computer I’ll help you.’ And help me he has. From our research journal to our inclusion in ESC (Engagement Scholarship Consortium), to our Carnegie Classification and countless conversations about strategy and staffing, he’s always been there.”

Pruitt gave special credit to Mullins for his role, along with that of founding editor Dr. Cassandra Simon, in the development of the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (JCES), now in its second decade of publication. It is published at the University and today is considered the leading journal in engaged scholarship.

Mullins came up with the original design and format for the publication and with the editorial philosophy that writing for the journal would place a priority on a style of writing that would be accessible to non-academics. As Simon put it in her original column about the journal, “We want JCES to look different, to be different, and to make a difference.” Apart from JCES publisher Pruitt, Mullins is the only member of the original staff still working for the journal.

Three awards were made in the faculty, staff and community partner Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholars category. They were Laurie Bonnici, associate professor, School of Library and Information Studies; Justin Washington, graduate student in the Culverhouse College of Business; and Jim Page, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.

A veteran community-engaged scholar, during the past year Bonnici was a visiting scholar at the Social Media Lab at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. Washington used his UA-acquired entrepreneurial skills to assist with funding to start programs and to help existing programs such as the Tuscaloosa Boys and Girls Club.” Under Page, the chamber was cited for its work with supporting youth, former inmates and nonprofits.

Five people received the Excellence Award for Outstanding Engagement Effort. They were: Amanda Lightsey of Tuscaloosa’s One Place; Lauren Martin, an undergraduate student in Honors College; Melanie Acosta, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction; Darrin J. Griffin, assistant professor of communication studies; and Yuehan Lu, associate professor of geological sciences.

These awards come with a $2,000 stipend to help the scholars continue their work. For example, Griffin said the funds would enable his team to produce weather workshops for the deaf community preliminary to seeking larger grants in the future.

The Council awarded two seed grants. One went to Dr. Abbey Gregg, assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Population Health and the Institute for Rural Health Research in the College of Community Health Sciences (CCHS), and Dr. Elwin Crawford in the state Department of Public Health’s Office of Emergency Medical Services. They received $3,520 to assess community needs related to mobile integrated healthcare intervention. The second was to Dr. Robin A. McWilliam, professor of special education and multiple abilities to support his work with Alabama’s Early Intervention System, Community Service Program of West Alabama. McWilliam was awarded $4,902 for telehealth research for families with infants and toddlers.

Graduate fellowships were awarded to Temilade Ayo Aladeokin and Kim Wang, doctoral students in social work, and for a student to be named later to work with Dr. Yuehan Lu, assistant professor in geological sciences.

The council also assists students and faculty with travel to present their research at scholarly conferences around the world. This year’s $1,000 travel grant recipients were Emily Brown, master’s student in biological sciences; Dr. Abbey Gregg, CCHS; Dr. Mary Kelley, assistant professor with the Capstone College of Nursing; Ashley Stewart, anthropology doctoral student; and Calia A. Torres, psychology doctoral student.

“I went to Tucson, Arizona to attend the American Ornithological Society annual meeting. It’s a nationwide conference on bird research,” said Brown. “I got to speak to someone who has been working with red-cockaded woodpeckers for 30 years and learning from what he’s learned from his research really helped me to frame my papers and research that I am working on.”

Another highlight of the luncheon was the presentation of the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship, named for a CCBP work-study student who died the night before he was to graduate magna cum laude with a degree in economics. This year’s recipient was Kathryn Taylor, a sophomore in communication studies who came to CCBP and immediately involved herself in its mission.

“It is the best department on campus,” said Taylor, who followed her older sister to UA from Connecticut. “I work alongside so many professional people and it’s been such a great opportunity for me to grow professionally. Working with them sets you up for a passionate future doing what you love.”

Dr Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the College of Education and chair of the executive committee Council, brought welcome to the audience and gave a brief report on the achievements of the past year. He praised the award recipients and their partners for their “remarkable individual efforts” and “life-reaching work.”

SCOPE Showcase Highlights Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

Scholars for Community, Outreach, Partnership and Engagement, or SCOPE, held its annual Showcase of Community-Engaged Scholarship on April 18 in the Bryant Conference Center. The event highlights the activities of undergraduate and graduate members, along with their work in the area of engaged scholarship.

“The Showcase provides a well-supported way for members to showcase their research and to get feedback from faculty,” said SCOPE President Tera “CeeCee” Johnson, a master’s student in the clinical mental health program who has been a SCOPE member for five years. “The Showcase gives other students an opportunity to see their work and possibly collaborate on future projects.”

Throughout the year, students meet and learn about engagement scholarship initiatives that are already being undertaken by the University and ways to get involved as well as to participate in skills-based workshops on research methods, grant writing, completing Institutional Review Board applications, and more.

“As an undergraduate being able to see all of this research and see all of these projects has been really inspiring for someone like me who wants to go to graduate school,” said Lathram Berry, a junior from Nashville with a New College emphasis in community development and civic engagement. “Being a member of SCOPE has helped me start developing ideas about projects that I might want to work on in the future. It has benefited me professionally, but it also has taught me more about myself and my personal skills. So, it’s definitely more than an organization.”

This feeling seemed to permeate the group. “It’s amazing how many resources this university has for students,” said Kathryn Taylor, a sophomore from Niantic, Conn. majoring in communication studies. “SCOPE is a little bit more than just an organization to me; it’s showed me how easy it is to be able to change the world and to change your community. It pushes me professionally to become a better version of myself.”

Johnson, Taylor and Berry participated in a panel discussion along with Cory Key, a master’s student in the Rural Community Health Program, and Xiangyan “Sophia” Xiong, a master’s student in gender and race studies. During the discussion, the students elaborated on how SCOPE allowed them to create a network of support for their research areas.

“SCOPE has brought me real experience,” said Xiong, who is from China. “Sometime when you read too many books you think doing research is how to develop a theory; but here you can see the community needs and what you can do in practice to help people.”

Key is from Alabama’s Black Belt Region and wants to return to the area to practice medicine. When he connected with SCOPE he already was involved with two engagement programs at the University: Cooperative Agriculture for Minorities; and Agriculture, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“Every single workshop had something that I could take back and apply immediately,” said Key, who admitted he was hesitant to join the organization at first. “I wasn’t expecting SCOPE to connect me to with so many resources, especially in rural areas. Alabama and more specifically each presenter brought a wealth of knowledge and informed us about resources available and that solidified my decision to continue to work in rural health.

After the panel discussion, graduate students Daniela Susnara and Cecilia Ciaccia gave paper and digital presentations. This was followed by a poster session, which featured more than two dozen projects involving nearly 50 students.

Council on Community-Based Partnerships at The University of Alabama to host 11th Annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards

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Photos depicting 2017 Award Winners and their projects

By Taylor Armer
CCBP Graduate Student Assistant

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Council on Community-Based Partnerships at The University of Alabama will host its 11th annual Excellence in Community Engagement Awards program Friday, April 14 at the Bryant Conference Center. The ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m. in Sellers Auditorium. There is no charge to attend, and lunch will be provided.

Early arrivers will have the chance to view the Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership and Engagement (SCOPE) student symposium, which begins at 8:30 a.m. Research poster presentations will immediately follow the symposium at 10 a.m., and posters will remain on display after the luncheon and awards ceremony.

Each spring semester, the Council on Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) recognizes outstanding achievements in engagement scholarship. Student, faculty, staff and their community partners are honored for excellence in community-based research.

Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, chair of the Executive Committee for the Council, said: “The quality and competition for these awards improve each year. I encourage everyone with an interest in the field of engaged scholarship to come out and give these winners the show of support they deserve. I also urge them to come early to view the student symposium and research posters on display.”

Charles E. Shipman II, a third-year computer science major from Montgomery, will receive the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship award for his work as a student assistant and language partner in CCBP. Shipman’s character and loyalty to the Center are reflective of the late Zach Dodson, the CCBP work-study student for whom the scholarship is named.

The Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar awards, which recognize a faculty member, a student and a community partner for public service and engagement efforts that have improved the quality of life in Alabama over an extended period, will go to:

  • Dr. Pamela Payne–Foster, associate professor of Community and Rural Medicine and deputy director of the Institute for Rural Health Research in the College of Community Health Sciences.
  • Joon Yea Lee, third-year doctoral student in the College of Communication and Information Sciences and graduate assistant at CCBP.
  • Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick, executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach.


Excellence in Engagement Awards will be presented to faculty, staff, students and community partners who have identified needs in the community, developed means to address those needs, acted to achieve outcomes, and demonstrated measured success in achieving those outcomes. The recipients are:


  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Jen Nickelson, associate professor of health science.
  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Kagendo Mutua, professor of special education and multiple abilities.
  • Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. David L. Albright, associate professor of social work.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Allyson Mitchell, undergraduate student in communicative disorders.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Army Lt. Col. John Kilpatrick, social work master’s student.
  • Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Ethan Newsome-Jackson, engineering undergraduate student.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — Qiaoli Liang of the Chinese Sisterhood program.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick, executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach.
  • Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — John Tyson Jr., retired Mobile county district attorney.


Winners of this year’s $5,000 research seed funds are:

  • Dr. Tania Alameda-Lawson and Dr. Laura Hopson, both from the School of Social Work, for their project Collective Parent Engagement and Service Learning at Davis-Emerson Middle School.
  • Craig Wedderspoon, of the art and art history department, for his project Growing Art.


Travel funds to support community engagement research and scholarship will be awarded to:

  • Brenna Sweetman, geography department, to present her work for the Water Conservation and Effective Watershed Management project in Punta Gorda, Belize.
  • Dr. Kevin Andrew Richards and Victoria Shiver, both in the department of kinesiology, to present their project, The Development of an After-School Program for Youth Placed At-Risk: A Collaborative Approach, in Savannah, Georgia.
  • Douglas Craddock Jr., doctoral student in higher education administration, to present his project, From Greensboro to Greensboro, Contrasting Two Community Partnerships to Propel Men of Color to Success, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Calia Torres, doctoral student in psychology, to present her project, Reducing Disparities with Literacy-Adapted Psychosocial Treatments for Chronic Pain: The Effect of the Lamp Intervention on Patients’ Pain and Psychosocial Functioning, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • Dr. Safiya George, associate professor in the Capstone College of Nursing, to present her project, Telemedicine Perceptions of Rural Patients With HIV and Mental Health Issues, in Paris, France.


Three fellowship awards provided through the Graduate School will be made available in the upcoming 2017–2018 funding cycle. Each fellowship carries a $15,000 stipend payable over fall and spring semesters, a full tuition grant for both semesters and a healthcare stipend. The Community Engagement Graduate Fellowship recipients are:

  • Matthew Price, doctoral student in civil, construction and environmental engineering.
  • Kelsey Ann Dyer, master’s student in special education and multiple abilities.
  • Margaret L. Holloway, doctoral student in English.

 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.”