Five faculty and staff members shared the impact of UT’s work on various communities during a national conference in Omaha, Nebraska, earlier this month.
The university also received a national award that recognized a project designed to improve the wellness and disaster readiness of an Appalachian community in Clay County, Kentucky.
The 2016 Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) Conference drew about 500 participants from public and private higher education institutions around the country. ESC schools aim to work collaboratively with communities to build strong partnerships by using academic scholarship to inform the work and help improve the communities.
The UT team attending the conference included Lisa Davenport, clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing; Jenny Retherford, lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering; Bob Kronick, professor of educational psychology and counseling in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences; Elizabeth Burman, outgoing director of the Office of Community Engagement and Outreach in the Office of Research and Engagement; and Lola Alapo, public relations specialist in the Office of Communications and Marketing.
Burman and Alapo presented on a panel exploring how to tell stories and make meaning from community-engaged scholarship and university outreach. Burman highlighted an effort that grew out of UT’s successful Carnegie Community Engagement Classification application process—a yearlong multimedia initiative planned by the Carnegie writing team that showcased 50 of UT’s best community-campus partnerships. Alapo discussed tying stories to university strategic plans and goals, ways to work with central communications offices, and how to maximize all channels of communication. Other panelists were from Michigan State University and Oregon State University.
Retherford presented on a panel about incorporating service-learning across the curriculum, with a focus on assessing impact on both students and the community. At the conference’s closing plenary, Retherford also shared a UT video spotlighting her civil and environmental engineering capstone course, with students making recommendations to a Tennessee community for turning abandoned railroad tracks into a greenway system. The course is part of UT’s Smart Communities Initiative.
Davenport was on hand to receive the 2016 C. Peter Magrath/W. K. Kellogg Exemplary Program Award on behalf of UT’s Appalachia Project. The exemplary designation recognizes universities’ extraordinary community outreach initiatives. UT was one of only five schools to receive the designation this year.
Davenport was the principal investigator on the Appalachia Project—UT’s initiative that helped bring clean drinking water, home safety and sanitation, and emergency preparedness to Clay County, Kentucky.
The project was a collaboration among several UT units—the College of Nursing; College of Architecture and Design; College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Law Enforcement Innovation Center—and community partners Red Bird Mission and the Clay County emergency management director. The three-year Appalachia Project, which began in 2013, was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services through the Nurse Education, Practice, Quality, and Retention Inter-professional Collaborative Practice grant.