Category: News

Brown Bag session

By Alecia Perez
Center for Community-Based Partnerships

On January 13th, UA faculty and graduate students interested in the intersections of engaged scholarship and the digital humanities participated in the first Engaged Scholarship Brownbag Series, sponsored by the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) and the Alabama Digital Humanities Initiative (ADHI), directed by Tom Wilson, associate dean for Library Technology.

Elliot Knight is the Founder and Co-Director of Black Belt 100 Lenses.

Held at the Alabama Digital Humanities Center in Gorgas Library, the meeting featured graduate student Elliot Knight and TCF faculty member Andy Grace as guest speakers. Over the last four years and with support and partnerships between CCBP and the Black Belt Community Foundation, Knight has offered the 100 Lenses program in all 12 Black Belt counties in Alabama. Students are recruited from throughout the Black Belt to stage exhibitions in which they tell their community stories through photography, videography, writing and speaking.

The 100 Lenses program also conducts a summer camp for students from throughout the Black Belt, who stage exhibitions in which they tell their community stories through photography, videography, writing and speaking. The third annual 100 Lenses summer camp is scheduled for June 10-14 and will bring together over 50 high schools students to collaborate with one another. Students will share photos and stories from their hometowns with one another, work with community artists and creative writing instructors and produce an exhibit that will be displayed around the state and online. The 100 Lenses 2012 summer camp will be June 10"“14.

Andy Grace founded the After the Storm project.

Grace, a faculty member in the Department of Telecommunication and Film and director of the Documenting Justice Program, told the group about his work creating an online interactive documentary project called “After the Storm.” The project will examine the City of Tuscaloosa’s long-term response after the April 27th tornado by using the stories of residents, city officials and business owners to create a tapestry of voices of those who are working to rebuild.

Dr. Heather Pleasants, organizer of the Engaged Scholarship Brownbag Series and director of community education at CCBP, called the brownbag series "emblematic of the very nature of engaged scholarship at The University of Alabama. Engaged scholars come in many forms, and their work often involves interdisciplinary collaboration."

The first brownbag of the current academic year was held in the fall and focused on research related to Hispanic/Latino families and children. Suggestions for future brownbags are welcome. For more information about the series, email Dr. Pleasants at For more information about the Alabama Digital Humanities Initiative, visit

Fairley receives Auburn engagement award

By Kristen J. Barnes
Center for Community-Based Partnerships

Nan Fairley, pictured on the cover of Beyond Auburn magazine, received the 2011 Auburn University Award for Excellence in Faculty Outreach.

Nan Fairley believes the best way to learn is by doing. That's why she challenges every one of her journalism students at Auburn University to get out of their comfort zones and become actively involved with communities.

The West Point, Miss., native has taught at Auburn for 20 years, where her teaching strategy in community journalism has been an ever-evolving process, but the key is getting her students to do real-world stories.

For her ability to inspire the next generation of journalists and the service this work provides for communities, Fairley recently received the 2011 Auburn University Award for Excellence in Faculty Outreach, one of the highest honors the university gives to faculty.

The foundation for that award can be found in scores of Alabama small towns where her students have been able to connect with people and places through journalism assignments. Two recent examples can be seen at Front Porch Magazine and Valley Vision.

Fairley "“ like her students "“ learned how to practice good journalism by working as a journalist while earning her undergraduate degree at Mississippi University for Women. After working on newspapers in Mississippi, Florida and Alabama, she returned to school to earn a master's degree in journalism from The University of Alabama, where Dr. Ed Mullins, director of research and communication at CCBP, was her adviser.

"Her master's project dealt with the history and culture of her hometown," said Dr. Edward Mullins, former dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences at UA. "Her family, Mississippi upbringing and small town background influenced her, all perfect training for what she is doing today at Auburn."

Fairley introduces her students to her world through classroom assignments that expand their minds and broaden their viewpoints. In the process, her students have turned engagement into community service, serving as mentors and taking up their own causes.

"Journalism can make a difference by shining a light on problems and connecting people to each other, and I hope we don't lose that," Fairley said. "Stories are powerful, and we need to know how to find the important ones and tell them."

Fairley has a way of getting people to work together, Mullins said. "She's not a pushy person by any means; she's just so willing to do her part that others see that and say, "˜I'm willing to help too,'" Mullins said. "She goes about her work in a very competent and joyous manner. So, it doesn't surprise me at all that she's gotten this recognition."

Students in her fall 2011 feature writing classes traveled to and wrote about Tuskegee and several towns along the Alabama and Georgia side of the Chattahoochee River.  Student stories were published in the Tuskegee News, the Montgomery Advertiser and in an online publication, Chattahoochee Heritage,

"Some of the projects I've been involved with have helped students understand that what they do can make a difference," Fairley said.

In her Valley Vision project, students wrote about past, present and future of Valley, Ala. They produced a special publication that received national recognition at the 2010 Imagining America Conference in Seattle, Wash., and the National Outreach Scholarship Conference in Raleigh, N.C. Fairley is now at work on a manuscript she hopes to publish in the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, which is published at UA.

Through their work students gain a better understanding of their surroundings and the true meaning of community journalism. "Good community journalism reflects every community's unique sense of place and deals with tough topics that affect real people. I do my part to help students understand that important role," Fairley said.

"I really benefited from working with Dr. Ed Mullins and certainly his connection to and appreciation of community journalism in Alabama has always been an inspiration to me," Fairley said. She said she uses her connections with surrounding communities to help her students shatter small-town stereotypes, helping them understand the differences in each community and the people who live there.

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.