Council on Community-Based Partnerships Meeting | September 5, 2018

[envira-gallery id=”8616″]

In attendance: Carol Agomo, Karyn Bowen, Jackie Brodsky, Dee Cook, George Daniels, Jan Findlay, Kimberly Gibson, Andrew Goodliffe, Fran Hardin-Fanning, Elizabeth Hartley, Tracey Hodges, Diane Kennedy-Jackson, Renee Key, Billy Kirkpatrick, Joon Yea Lee, Amanda Lightsey, James E. McLean, Jacqueline V. Morgan, Rob Morgan, Ed Mullins, Jane Newman, Nicole Prewitt, Samory Pruitt, Sarah Saeed, Luna Yang

Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs, welcomed attendees and called the meeting to order at 11:43 a.m.

Amanda Lightsey, executive director of Tuscaloosa’s One Place, reported that they have moved from Alberta City and are now located at 810 27th Avenue, behind the Arts & Autism building. She believes this will be a great move for them considering the non-profit growth in the downtown area, and shared that both Five Horizons Health Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters have recently expanded their space and services in this area.

Lightsey said that she, along with Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick (CEO, Five Horizons Health Services) and Dr. George Daniels (assistant dean, College of Communication and Information Sciences) are working together on a project to create a directory of institutions in Tuscaloosa that offer service-learning opportunities. She observed that there seems to be a disconnect between opportunities and agencies, and that the purpose of this directory is to help link University of Alabama professors and their students with these types of opportunities that are available in the community.

Lightsey indicated that they are also focusing on the area of research and evaluation because more and more state and federal grant opportunities require evaluation. She explained that finding an evaluator is often a challenge for non-profits, and their hope is that bridging the gap between agencies needing evaluators for their grants and those who might offer this assistance will make the process much easier moving forward.

Finally, Lightsey reported that Tuscaloosa’s One Place was recently named the Homer Butler United Way Agency of the Year. Learn more at

On behalf of Jeff Gray, who was unable to attend the meeting, Pruitt announced that Gray recently received a National Science Foundation grant for the purpose of targeting African-American girls in the state of Alabama in an effort to get them interested in pursuing science-related fields and careers. Gray will provide a report to the Council at a later date.

Pruitt invited those present to share with his office their research interests, as well as opportunities they may be seeking to work with others. Additionally, those new to the Council were invited to share at this meeting.

Anne Levy, UA Theatre and Dance, recently relocated from New York City, where she has done a lot of work with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). She is interested in getting the word out so that anyone who would like to use the power of the arts and theatre to advance their programs might get in touch with her about ways their programs and the Department of Theatre and Dance might partner.

Fran Hardin-Fanning, Capstone College of Nursing, shared that her work is going into areas in Appalachia to help those living there learn to eat healthy with the limited resources of the area. She and Jan Findlay, also of the Capstone College of Nursing, work together.

Jackie Brodsky, who works in UA’s School of Library and Information Studies, as well as at Wayne State University, reported on her activities as a community partner. She is working on an art program through DCH Cancer Center that provides a way for cancer survivors to stay in touch with the Center and stay up to date with current cancer prevention news. She hopes to expand this program into other counties the Center serves in an effort to bring more access to health information available through the Center to additional counties and spaces. They are also working to get their library online to help with resources. Additionally, they are partnering with the UA Art Department and are looking for another school — perhaps nursing or social work — to partner with on these efforts.

Pruitt then shared a brief summary of the New Faculty Community Engagement Tour, which began in 2017. He said that when we began these tours, the intent was not to load buses and take people with all the answers to the people who need help. Instead, we take some of our faculty members to hear about the things these people are doing in their communities — things of which they are very proud — to learn how those things might align with the research interests of faculty.

James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), shared an evaluation of the 2018 tour based on survey results including input from faculty, students, staff and community members who participated. Survey questions included three qualitative and three quantitative questions.

James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP), shared an evaluation of the 2018 tour based on survey results including input from faculty, students, staff and community members who participated. Survey questions included three qualitative and three quantitative questions.

McLean said participants were surveyed during each day of the tour to get feedback about each tour date. A comparison of the results of the three groups of people — one for each day of the tour — showed no appreciable differences.

The largest participant group was faculty, followed by students and then staff. One hundred percent of the participants rated their experience as a 7 or higher on a 10-point scale, with more than 50 percent giving it a perfect 10. All participants indicated they would recommend future tours to others with 64 percent rating this a 10 on a 10-point scale. The most common response to suggestions for improving the tour was to increase the time for networking among tour participants and panelists.

Community member panelists and site coordinators were also surveyed to parallel the tour members’ surveys. Of the 48 community members participating over the nine sites visited, 17 responded. This was a 35.5 percent response rate, which McLean said is typical for these types of surveys. He said that all nine sites visited were represented in the responses. While all in this group were satisfied with their participation, 90 percent rated their participation as a 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. All indicated they are likely to participate again in the future. Responses for improving the tour next year mirrored those of tour participants, with requests for additional time for interaction, as well as representation from more disciplines, with an emphasis on business.

Accordingly, going forward, we will seek ways to find more time for panelists and tour members to spend time together so that they can better connect and discuss opportunities to work together. Additionally, we will seek to recruit participants from more disciplines, especially those with business-related interests, to participate in future tours.

Dr. Tracey Hodges, assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction, who just completed her first year at UA, participated in the faculty tour this spring based on a recommendation. She said she enjoyed the tour because of the community members, business professionals and education professionals who participated. She also appreciated having the schedule of panelists ahead of time, which allowed her to look up people she might be interested in talking with prior to the tour. As a result, she made a connection with a principal from Hale County regarding literacy needs. She now spends time at Hale County Middle School three to five times each month, working with the teaching professionals there and conducting research. It is a positive relationship that benefits, students, teachers and her own research.

Pruitt indicated that the Division  plans to document and circulate information about these types of connections made as a result of tour participation. Additionally, he said we will distribute the annual report on these tours in the future.

Pruitt then reported on the progress of the planned Student Community Engagement Center, which will be located in Capital Hall on the Bryce Campus. Out of a desire to support the work of our students, faculty and community partners involved in community-engaged scholarship, we looked at national trends and realized that not one of the institutions researched had a designated space for students in different disciplines to work together in the same space at the same time around community-engaged scholarship. The concept for the Center was a result of that realization, combined with input from students and other stakeholders.

Featuring portable design that will create flexibility moving forward, the Center will open with six offices for student organizations that have a research/service mission based on their disciplines, with future expansion planned to create up to a total of 10 office spaces. Student groups known to have an interest in being a part of this based on their activities were contacted initially. The bids were opened in August and the funding is in place for the first phase, which will involve renovation of existing space at a cost of just under $800,000. The goal is for the renovation to be completed in time to open the Center at the start of the spring 2019 semester. In the interim, the selected student groups, along with the colleges of which they are a part, have been asked to begin working together while the renovation takes place. Several of the entities involved include Engineers Without Borders, groups from Social Work, the College of Education, Human Environmental Sciences and the College of Community Health Sciences, as well as the student chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, which created an informative presentation about the new space and its use. They also came up with the tagline: More Than Just A Space.

Carol Agomo, director of Community and Administrative Affairs in the Division of Community Affairs, expanded on how the tagline was formed, sharing that we got here through a process of bringing students together to collaborate, but that when we brought in departments, it opened up additional opportunities. The planned use of the space is consistent with the UA Strategic Plan, including developing social consciousness, fostering public outreach and service and engaging in community outreach. This access will help the way the student groups work and give them an opportunity to strengthen their community relationships. It will definitely be more than just a space!

A question was raised about parking concerns. Pruitt stated there will be a bus stop in front of Capital Hall, which should help ease parking issues in the short term. As expansion on the Bryce Campus continues, there will eventually be additional parking available on the opposite side of the building. He also said that there are no seating areas in front of Capital Hall at this time, but that we may look at ways to add seating to these areas in the future. Additionally, there is a courtyard located in the center of the building, and we will likely do something with that space that benefits the new Center, as well as others housed in the building.

On behalf of Dr. Holly Morgan (CCBP) and Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, (College of Education) Pruitt reported on a grant application submitted by them for the Alabama Statewide Family Engagement Center. Morgan and Wilson work together on the Parent Teacher Leadership Academy (PTLA), and receipt of this grant would allow that existing model to grow to other areas throughout the state. This is a $6 million grant over five years, and each state is allowed to submit only one application. Our grant application has the State of Alabama’s support. A brief abstract of the grant was shared via a handout at this meeting, and an update from Morgan and Wilson will take place at a future Council meeting.

Dr. James E. McLean reported that we completed the second round of the Winning Grants and Sustainability Program in June, and that the third round (2018–2019) began in August. The third round includes 10 teams with 50 people total and a variety of interesting projects. The program continues to be in great demand, likely because of the success already logged, which totals somewhere between $40 and $50 million obtained in grants, beginning with the first class in 2016–2017. Round 4 is being planned for 2019–2020. In addition to the successful grant funding already obtained, the program is helping people learn to write more competitive grants — a skill that will continue to reap benefits for many years to come. McLean views what we are doing as an incubator, and sees our successes as being when projects and programs get out on their own and become self-sustaining.

Sarah Saeed, program coordinator at CCBP, gave a Fulbright and Global Café/Language Partners Program update on behalf of Dr. Beverly Hawk, director of Global and Community Engagement at CCBP. Saeed shared that there are around 60 Fulbright applications in the works for this coming year and that UA looks to be listed again among the top Fulbright producing institutions in the nation. A handout about students who won Fulbright awards for the 2018–2019 academic year was shared with meeting attendees. Saeed also informed the group that Hawk and some of her students will be attending the national Fulbright conference in Mexico this fall.

Schedule cards for the fall 2018 semester of Global Café were also distributed (also available online at Saeed explained that through Global Café, UA students and volunteers assist international students with their speaking and listening to aid in English language learning, as well as to learn more about American culture. Additionally, the process is reversed and we utilize international students and visiting scholars to help UA students learning another language or preparing to travel overseas. Five students have already been paired this way for the current semester, and we have also paired 64 language partners with volunteers and CCBP student assistants. In addition to our student staff, we have five community partners and 30 student volunteers who are making a big difference in the lives of international students, and particularly in the lives of visiting scholars who, because they do not attend classes, may receive their only one-on-one American contact through Global Café.

Daniels and UA PhD candidate Joon Yea Lee shared a brief overview of a workshop they will present at the upcoming Engagement Scholarship Consortium Annual Conference in Minneapolis. For this project, which discusses the importance of using video to tell stories, they analyzed and rated the content of the Peter McGrath Awards videos. Each McGrath winner is given two minutes to tell their story via video. The video they played from Oklahoma State University was shared as an example of a production that effectively captured the institution’s brand, its community partner involvement, its activities with partner participation and its inclusion of institutional leadership — all elements that made for a strong presentation. At the conference, they will present a workshop designed to help others learn how to plan and use video to effectively tell the stories of their partnerships.

Pruitt gave a brief update on the upcoming ESC Conference, sharing a handout containing information about the UA delegation to Minneapolis and noting that UA always has one of the largest conference delegations. He said the Division of Community Affairs, the College of Continuing Studies and the Office of Academic Affairs work together to help provide funding to those in need of it to attend. The internal cutoff for conference registration was Friday, Sept. 7. Pruitt also shared that this year’s conference will feature a faculty panel in addition to the existing journal editors’ panel.

Pruitt, on behalf of Morgan, gave information about Vision Days, a newly created high school tours and college readiness program. Noting that often, when we bring high school students to campus, it will be multiple students from a single school, who may or may not all be interested in the topics presented. The Vision Days approach brings students from different schools on different days based on individual interests, providing them with a way to learn more about their areas of interest, as well as to meet other students with similar interests. Because we are competing for in-state students now, we believe this will be a way to aid the University in that effort. A schedule of the tours was provided to the Council.

Attendees were encouraged to save the date for future Council meetings, which are scheduled as follows:

  • Wednesday, November 17, 2018, 11:30 a.m. — Bryant Conference Center, Rast Room B
  • Thursday, February 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. — Bryant Conference Center, Rast Room B
  • Thursday, March 21, 2019, 11:30 a.m. — Ferguson Center, Room 3104

The 13th Annual Excellence Awards and SCOPE Showcase are scheduled for:

  • Friday, April 12, 2019 — Bryant Conference Center, Sellers Auditorium

Visit for future Council updates.

Meeting was adjourned at 1:05 p.m.

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.”

The Division of Community Affairs was created in 2004 and is recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in community engagement. The division provided the leadership for the recent reaffirmation of the University’s Carnegie curricular and community engagement classification. The division publishes the Journal of Community Engaged Scholarship, one of the leading refereed journals in the field.