The C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award includes a sculpture and $20,000 prize. The three other regional winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.
Since 2007, APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, have partnered to honor the engagement, scholarship, and partnerships of four-year public universities. The award recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities. The national award is named for C. Peter Magrath, APLU president from 1992 to 2005.
The community engagement awards also include a class of exemplary designees. In addition to the regional winners, the five exemplary designees are recognized for their outstanding efforts. Those institutions — Michigan State University; Texas Tech University; the University of Minnesota; the University of Louisville; and the University of South Carolina — will be showcased at the 2017 Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s Annual Conference in September.
“This year’s Magrath Awards have demonstrated exceptional cultural, civic, and economic contributions to their communities, states, and regions,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “They’re tackling some of the most urgent challenges facing our country by elevating the importance of student and faculty service, deepening connections to their communities, and reorienting their engagement work to ensure it employs a comprehensive approach that address every angle of these challenges.”
A team of community engagement professionals judged this round of the award. A second team will pick the national winner following presentations at the 2017 National Engagement Scholarship Conference in September.
Background on the regional winners
East Carolina University
American childhood obesity rates tripled over the last decade. Today, nearly a third of American and half of Eastern North Carolina children are overweight or obese. MATCH-Wellness, an interdisciplinary, community-university partnership was created to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. MATCH-Wellness aligns with public school and East Carolina University (ECU) missions. Since 2007, the MATCH-Wellness partnership has grown from one middle school teacher and one ECU faculty member to include faculty and students from the ECU Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center and public school staff from 15 communities at 35 public schools across three states. Since inception, nearly 13,000 students have participated in the MATCH curriculum, preventing an estimated 1,300 cases of adult obesity. In North Carolina, just a three percent shift in adults from overweight to healthy weight would yield $3 billion annual savings. MATCH seventeen year olds, four years after participation in the program, showed 15 percent change to healthy weight.
University of New Hampshire
The University of New Hampshire’s Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) develops pioneering responses to sexual and relationship violence through research that engages a variety of community partners. One in six women in the U.S. are victims of rape or attempted rape. Over 10 million people in the U.S. are victims of domestic violence. Founded in 2006 by an interdisciplinary group of five researchers and practitioners, PIRC now employs over 20 researchers and practitioners as well as graduate and undergraduate students. PIRC researchers engage with community partners across the country to develop innovative, evidence-based sexual violence prevention and response strategies. PIRC’s research-based innovations have been used to prevent violence in communities, high schools, universities, and in the military. PIRC also helps survivors of sexual violence move forward in the aftermath of trauma. In addition, the Center’s work informs policy at the institutional, local, state, and national level. PIRC’s research applies theoretical frameworks of public health and social ecology to study violence prevention. PIRC members have published 85 peer-reviewed journal articles, 15 book chapters, and 21 practitioner-oriented publications and reports.
Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) Solutions-based Health Innovations and Nutrition Excellence (SHINE) was created in 2006 as a collaboration between Oklahoma State University and the Chickasaw Nation, a local Native American tribe. The Chickasaw Nation partnered with OSU to study nutrition and public health issues identified by Chickasaw citizens – combining cultural, historical, and programming knowledge with nutrition and public health expertise. The collaboration has developed a wide-ranging, nationally recognized model of public health collaboration between a university and a Native American nation. The team developed the Eagle Adventure program for children in the first through third grades. The program embraces the traditions of Native American storytelling to educate participants on practices that prevent Type 2 diabetes through dietary and physical activity. Sixty-seven percent participants’ parents reported their children were more active after school and 49 percent reported their children ate vegetables at dinner and 55 percent reported their child ate fruit for snack more often.
Purdue’s EPICS is an academic program that engages teams of students to tackle community problems through the development, design, delivery, and support of technology-based solutions that assist nonprofit organizations. EPICS projects are intended to solve real problems and are defined in consultation with project partners from not-for-profit community organizations. The program is a catalyst for change in university-community agreements, student engagement, and multidisciplinary coursework. Purdue’s EPICS program has grown to enroll over 1,100 students a year working on 147 projects that are directly impacting 83,111 people. Since the program’s creation in 1995, over 350 projects have been delivered – ranging from software that allows agencies to coordinate services and protect privacy, to a constructed wetland that purifies agricultural runoff, to an iPad app that helps autistic children communicate, to an accessible camp for children with disabilities. EPICS also created networks to support engineering-based engagement with 35 institutions being a part of the university consortium and 73 schools in the K-12 network.
Background on the exemplary designees
Michigan State University
Sexual assault kits (SAKs), commonly referred to as rape kits, contain biological evidence collected after an assault. The kits can be analyzed for DNA – which is instrumental to solving crimes, prosecuting rapists, and preventing future attacks. Yet untested sexual assault are a persistent problem at police departments across the country. In 2009, the Detroit Police Department discovered 11,000 untested SAKs in a department storage facility. Detroit is one of a growing number of U.S. cities that have discovered large numbers of untested SAKs in police storage. To address this national problem, the National Institute of Justice funded the Detroit SAK Action Research Project to develop best practices. Michigan State’s Dr. Rebecca Campbell led Detroit-area researchers in conducting a multidisciplinary project that: assessed the scope of the problem; determined why Detroit amassed so many untested rape kits; developed a plan for testing kits; and created a protocol for notifying victims and providing them with support services. Detroit stakeholders and the research team worked together to implement a number of reforms based on the findings of the project, including: new policies to test all SAKs in Detroit; new training programs for practitioners on trauma-informed care; the formation of a new sexual assault cold case investigation and prosecution unit; and the passage of a new state law that requires all SAKs in Michigan to be submitted for DNA testing.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University’s Llano River Field Station conducts research and engages in a comprehensive set of partnerships focused on recognizing, understanding, and identifying solutions to regional problems related to watershed and range science, freshwater systems, and the environment. Texas’s Hill Country is one of America’s most treasured landscapes and has historically had a number of large natural springs that are a vital natural resource for the region. Yet springs and rivers are disappearing at an alarming rate, with 17 of 31 known large springs in the area failing altogether. As part of the Llano River Field Station program, Texas Tech partners with state and federal agencies, municipalities, universities, K-12 schools, landowners and other local citizen groups who share expertise, planning, and resources to protect and restore the watershed. Such partnerships have resulted in enhanced natural resource science and conservation, best practices in watershed protection, an exemplary STEM curriculum and nationally recognized education programs. It has provided pathways to deliver the science of natural resources, water and climate to critical stakeholders, decision makers and the general public.
The University of Minnesota
Formed in 2007, the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment works to formulate comprehensive solutions to intractable environmental challenges facing Minnesota and the country at large. The Institute focuses on applied interdisciplinary research that drives discoveries not for the sake of new knowledge, but to help tackle a wide range of environmental problems. By partnering with corporations, nonprofits, global NGOs, and municipalities, the Institute can create and widely disseminate solutions to environmental challenges – magnifying the impact of its work. Such partnerships have yielded environmental legislation, industry-leading commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and new sustainability standards. The Institute supports the work of 113 affiliate scholars across the University of Minnesota System and has funded more than 600 projects. The Institute’s researchers have published groundbreaking work in leading scholarly journals on methods of sustainable food production, capturing the economic value of ecosystem services, and preventing the loss of biodiversity.
The University of Louisville
The University of Louisville’s Human Rights Advocacy Program works to advance the human rights of immigrants, refugees, and non-citizens through a program in the university’s Brandeis School of Law. Established in 2014, the program uses admissions-based fellowships, faculty and student interest, as well as a public service requirement to assemble a community of activists, researchers, and leaders to generate scholarship that responds to the urgent need for legal outreach in the undocumented immigrant community. The program undertook an assessment to identify legal needs and address hurdles to ensuring immigrants’ human rights, such as language barriers and educational access. The human rights center studied each issue and published reports documenting compliance gaps in language and educational access. The program also produced training videos to improve compliance in these areas. The research agenda was developed working collaboratively with broad constituents of the community and ongoing communications.
University of South Carolina
University of South Carolina’s PASOs program drives improvements in health and early childhood outcomes in Latino communities across the state. The program was developed in 2005 after a graduate student research project within the College of Social Work showed that Latino health disparities were not being adequately addressed. Beginning in 2008, the university established a formal partnership with PASOs, supported by a variety of university resources. Crucially, the PASOs program was developed for, with, and by the underserved Latino population it assists and the program collaborates with 180 community and organizational partners throughout the state. PASOs reduces cultural and linguistic barriers by providing culturally competent services that reach over 8,500 Latino women and children each year. PASOs has garnered local, state and national recognition for its researched-based model by demonstrating how co-created solutions can directly be connected to community contexts. PASOs also integrates the University’s teaching, research, and service missions by connecting faculty and students to communities. To date, PASOs resulted in five peer-reviewed journal, publications, two current community-based participatory research projects, several articles currently pending for publication.