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 three other regional winners will each receive a cash prize of $5,000 to further their engagement work.
The community engagement awards also include a class of exemplary designees. Two exemplary designees – North Carolina State University and Oklahoma State University – are also being recognized for their outstanding efforts. All institutions will be showcased at the 2019 Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s Annual Conference in October.
“Public universities across North America are working hard to bolster partnerships addressing the urgent challenges facing their communities,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Community engagement is a core mission for public universities. We congratulate this year’s Magrath Award finalists and exemplary designees for their exceptional work, which is at the leading edge of community engagement efforts. These institutions show the true power of public universities to help transform lives and improve communities within their state.”
A team of community engagement professionals judged this round of the award. A second team will pick the national winner following presentations at the 2019 National Engagement Scholarship Conference.
Background on the regional winners
Colorado State University
In 2009, Colorado State University (CSU) launched the Campus Connections Youth Mentoring Program to help mentor disadvantaged youth and build leadership skills for CSU students. Larimer County, where CSU is located, faced a growing population of at-risk youth with truancy, substance abuse, and delinquency issues at the time. Alarmed at the long-term implications of this development, the Colorado legislature called on community leaders to address the issue. Stepping up, CSU partnered with an array of community partners to form the Campus Connections program and address community needs with evidence-based solutions. The program pairs undergraduate students with at-risk youth in a uniquely structured, multi-level mentoring community. Over the past decade, the program has paired 2,350 disadvantaged youth with 3,000 CSU students. Mentees report improved wellbeing and less acceptance of risky behavior following the program. The mentoring CSU students, meanwhile, achieve personal growth, build civic engagement skills, and demonstrate higher university persistence and graduation rates. The program has proven so successful that four other universities have adopted the program’s approach and curriculum.
Agriculture is New York state’s primary economic activity, and the industry relies on tens of thousands of immigrant farmworkers. Since 1966, the Cornell Farmworker Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) has provided statewide leadership, supporting migrant farmworkers in housing improvements, health pesticide training, and education. Identifying priorities through participatory research, faculty, staff, and students collaborate with farmworkers to build capacity to fulfill aspirations, strengthen collective efficacy, and address challenges. Today, Cornell’s support of farmworkers has grown to include CALS, the SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell Law School and 24 community partners. More than 300 students participate annually to support thousands of farmworkers and farmworker-focused organizations. Programming includes the Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic, one of the country’s only law-school based, farmworker-focused clinics; the Low-Income Taxpayer Program, a first-of-its-kind interprofessional course series through which accounting and law students assist farmworkers and other low-income workers with tax returns; hands-on student-farmworker workshops; development of training materials and activities; and research that has resulted in seven scholarly publications and dozens of policy papers and practitioner publications. Cornell is regularly consulted on program design as well as on federal, state and local farmworker policy.
University of Louisville
The University of Louisville’s Institute for Social Justice Research partnered with the Fairness Campaign, an LGBTQ-equality organization, to produce the nation’s first statewide report on LGBTQ history. The effort convened University of Louisville faculty, students, librarians, and archivists as well as staff from the Fairness Campaign and the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office to uncover previously untold experiences of LGBTQ residents through interviews with dozens of Kentuckians. Working with the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office, the partnership also established two LGBTQ historic sites, recognizing LGBTQ people in the state. The report notes that LGBTQ people in Kentucky long faced social hostility, including suppression and violence. The National Park Service also reviewed, endorsed, and published the report through an initiative documenting under-represented communities, further elevating awareness of the LGBTQ community in Kentucky. The historic sites, meanwhile, recognize LGBTQ people in Kentucky’s heritage and sparked important public discourse about equality and inclusiveness.
Purdue University’s Joint Transportation Research Program facilitates collaboration between the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), higher education institutions, and industry to implement innovations improving the planning, design, construction, operation, management, and economic efficiency of transportation infrastructure. The program convenes senior leaders from the university and the Department of Transportation as well as Purdue faculty and INDOT division directors, engineers, and communications personnel. In all, 270 INDOT division directors have partnered with more than 400 Purdue personnel over the last five years – providing continuous professional development opportunities during the research process. The joint effort provides university faculty, staff, and student opportunities to work on problems not yet in textbooks and to create new scholarly literature. The effort has also created workshops such as the Purdue Road School, reaching more than 3,000 participants in 2019. Results of JTRP/INDOT research projects, conferences, and engagement activities are published on the Purdue e- Pubs open access web platform and have been downloaded approximately 2.2 million times from over 26,800 institutions across 230 countries.
Background on the exemplary designees
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State’s Community Counseling, Education, and Research Center works to fill gaps in mental health services in Wake County, North Carolina through its mission to make world-class community counseling accessible throughout the region. The center provides short-term and affordable counseling services to individuals, couples, and families that focus on healthy personal, emotional, and career development. Clients pay what they can afford for the services, with nearly half the clients paying nothing and the remaining clients paying an average of $13 per session. The Center also provides professional development to area counselors, helping them learn multicultural and social justice practice. Since January 2016, the center’s counselors have provided at least 3,193 hours of free-to-low-cost counseling services to community clients. In addition, CCERC has provided approximately 700 free group counseling hours for teenagers at the area Boys and Girls Club. Last year, the center signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wake County Public School System enabling the school to refer students 14 and older to the center for free mental health counseling.
Oklahoma State University
Oklahoma State University (OSU) partners with community agencies serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to provide research-informed community action serving these individuals and their families. Spearheaded by faculty member Jennifer Jones, the effort works with an advocacy group for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to monitor quality of life for individuals living in state-supported residential housing. Because intellectual and developmental disabilities can manifest differently, OSU student-volunteers conducting interviews are trained to expect these behavioral patterns to ensure resources match needs. Before conducting their first review, students participate in extensive background and training sessions. Dr. Jones and her volunteer students have made possible more than 500 reviews of residential settings. OSU’s work in this area also extends to providing horse therapy for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through its partnership with Turning Point Ranch, OSU helps more individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive horse therapy – which research shows has significant benefits for the population. The partnership has also made possible the co-creation of several presentations and peer-reviewed publications.