Category: CCBP

Showcase Concludes Inaugural BLAST Academy

  • August 1st, 2022
  • in CCBP

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

BLAST Academy (Building Leaders Through the Arts, STEM and Teamwork), a new summer enrichment program for K–6 students, celebrated its inaugural class with a final showcase and awards ceremony on July 29 at the Moody Music Hall.

“I was the first in my family to go to college. A lot of people helped me in my life, and personally to be a part of something like this and providing this opportunity for young people, it’s very, very special,” said Dr. Samory Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs.

Led by Dr. Daniela Susnara, director of planning and assessment for community engagement in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, BLAST developed as a partnership among the Hale County School District, the Tuscaloosa City School District (TCS) and the Tuscaloosa County School System, as well as the College of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama.

“As educators, we’ve known research for a long time that the amount of time kids are in school or in a space where they learn matters,” said Dr. Andrew Maxey, director of strategic initiatives for TCS. “The research on what works in the summer space is that they have to want to be here more than they want to be in the pool.”

Held on UA’s campus from July 5–29, BLAST Academy encouraged summer learning in a creative environment for children ages 5–12, with a focus on arts education, physical education, STEM and social emotional learning.

“I worked for the Tuscaloosa City School system, and I was like, this is something so great,” said, D’Juana Cook, whose grandson participated in BLAST. “I told my daughter [to] let him do it because it enhances his mind. It gives him something to keep thinking and keep focusing on. But everything was organized well, and I’m very pleased.”

“I enjoyed the different people coming together, the schools coming together,” echoed Shenna Crockett, whose daughter participated in BLAST. “I think it’s very helpful for them educational wise social as well as learning more structure in a different environment besides school.”

Camp instructional sessions were held in UA classrooms, letting participants experience the educational benefits at the Capstone.

“I taught some classes in one of the buildings this summer, and I got to see every day what was going on through three floors of my building, so it was really exciting,” said Dr. Liza Wilson, senior associate dean for the UA College of Education. “When there’s fun, you want to learn and keep learning. We want you [the campers] to be lifelong learners.”

At the start of the showcase, campers’ experiments from the STEM sessions were on display in the lobby of the Moody Music Hall in the form of city skyscrapers built from paper geometric shapes to bridges made of craft sticks. There were also petri dishes from their biology lessons and lab journals where participants noted their observations and thoughts throughout the program.

After the welcome, the STEM education and physical education award winners for each grade level were announced. The showcase concluded with an arts education performance of each age group.

“One of my favorite words is STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” said Dr. Charles Snead, director of the School of Music. “Science, technology, engineering and math are the disciplines that make it possible for us to have a world to live in, but it is those of us in the arts and the creative disciplines that make that life worth living, so the creativity that comes from what has happened this week is awesome. We all know from all kinds of research and studies the more creative a mind thinks, the better you are at whatever you do.”

Swim To the Top Participants Recognized in Showcase Celebration

  • July 5th, 2022
  • in CCBP

by Dr. Elisabetta Zengaro
Communications Specialist, Division of Community Affairs

Approximately 160 children gathered in the Benjamin Barnes YMCA gymnasium to demonstrate what they learned from Swim to the Top during a final showcase on July 1. The program, now in its ninth year, is led by Dr. Daniela Susnara, director of planning and assessment for community engagement.

To start, the campers performed a choreographed dance routine learned in the arts education component. Afterward, the children grabbed their swimsuits and headed to the Freeman Pool to show off their swimming skills during the latter part of the celebration. Pictures of the campers’ STEM experiments and volleyball lessons were also on display for parents.

“I like this initiative to teach them how to swim because that will stop a lot of these children, and some others perhaps, from drowning and having a fear of water,” said Lois Lewis, as she watched her grandson swim across the pool.

Held annually during June, Swim to the Top encourages children to reach the “top” in all aspects of life through additional learning in STEM enrichment, arts education, and physical education for children 4–14.

“They really are enthusiastic about learning about science in a hands-on setting,” said Rachel Hill, one of the program’s STEM instructors. “They need to be exposed to STEM opportunities because there are STEM jobs everywhere, and if we can spark an interest while they’re young, who knows where it will take them in the future.”

This year’s STEM enrichment focused on environmental awareness. For one experiment, children learned about oil spill cleanups and how to research with computers. Additionally, campers strengthened their sportsmanship and teamwork abilities in the PE sessions, learning volleyball and tennis.

New this year was an arts education component in which campers learned how to express their creativity through drawing, music and dance, giving them a well-rounded experience¬¬.

“Swim to the Top added so much value to the campers’ experience,” said LaKeda Smith, executive director of the Benjamin Barnes YMCA. “They take a holistic approach to helping us equip the children.”

“The best part about this is what the kids accomplish through collaboration,” added Jeff Knox, CEO, Tuscaloosa County YMCA.

This was the first year Swim to the Top collaborated with UA Swimming and Diving. Some of the coaches and athletes provided swim instruction, and the campers toured the UA Aquatic Center to learn about the competitive side of swimming.

“I think that it shows you ... the value of sport is so big and that goes so much beyond results and SEC titles and similar rankings, so I think for the staff, for our team, to see that they can make a real big impact in the community just by teaching these skills is huge, but also [as] just another positive role model for these kids,” said Roman Willets, assistant coach for UA Swimming and Diving.

George Stewart, Tuscaloosa native and playwright who attended the showcase, remarked on the importance of these partnerships in empowering youth.

“I’m originally from Tuscaloosa, so I’ve been in this pool before when I was a kid over at the Y … so, to see it still alive is a wonderful thing,” said Stewart. “I think this is a wonderful opportunity to introduce the young people to swimming, but also the effort that people care. That doesn’t click right now with them, but when they look back on it, they’ll understand that somebody cared enough to give them something that they didn’t know they needed, and they had fun doing it.”

MLK Distinguished Lecturer Inspires Audience with Civil Rights History Lesson

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By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

A nationally renowned civil rights expert was the keynote speaker for the 2019 Realizing the Dream Distinguished Lecture at the Embassy Suites hotel in Tuscaloosa on March 19. The title of his speech was “Honoring the Voting Rights Legacy of the United States Colored Troops.”

This series, now in its 19th year, featured Asa Gordon, retired NASA astrodynamicist and receiver of the 2016 Civil Rights and Social Justice Award in recognition of his promotion of the voting rights legacy post-Civil War, a legacy kept alive by the Sons and Daughters of the United States Colored Troops, of which Gordon is secretary-general.

Gordon gave the audience an inspiring demonstration of specific historical events of African- American Civil War activism. “The reason we have the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments is by virtue of their [black Civil War soldiers’] activism,” said Gordon.

Gordon’s presentation was based on his extensive and detailed knowledge of the history of African-American service during the Civil War, leading to the development of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Gordon, who said he began developing his presentation 10 years ago, has inspired countless audiences ever since and this night was no exception.

Gordon said the idea for the lecture came from his research on Civil Rights activism by African-Americans. “I am not just telling the story of how veterans and warriors helped saved the nation … but how they saved the constitution,” he said.

Gordon is founder and executive director of the Douglass Institute of Government, a Washington, D.C.-based educational think tank.

Gordon also touched on other areas of his social activism, which spans civil actions in regard to democratizing the Electoral College, constitutional penalty for voter disenfranchisement, 14th  Amendment right to vote provisions, and neo-Confederate culture in American politics.

After the lecture, Stillman College Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness Dr. Mary Jane Krotzer hosted a question and answer session.

In welcoming attendees, Dr. Isaac McCoy, dean of Stillman’s School of Business, promised the audience exactly what Gordon delivered: “an informed and inspired” evening. Rose Bryant, president of Stillman’s Student Government Association, underscored the importance of institutional cooperation in bringing the event to Tuscaloosa.

“This event shows,” she said, “the power and impact of having three institutions of higher learning — the University of Alabama, the Stillman College, and Shelton State Community College — working together on behalf of the community.” The other community organization comprising the Realizing the Dream Committee is the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The Realizing the Dream program is under the overall direction and supervision of the Division of Community Affairs.

“Once again, the Realizing the Dream Committee has brought us a memorable event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Vice President of Community Affairs Dr. Samory T. Pruitt. “Our division is privileged to be a part of this important program.”

New Faculty Tour Introduces University/Community Collaboration

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By Taylor Armer, Yiben Liu, and Kirsten Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistants

The University of Alabama’s Division of Community Affairs conducted its first New Faculty Community Engagement Tour of West Alabama counties Wednesday through Friday, May 10–12, 2017. The tour, “Exploring New Places, Meeting New People and Engaging New Communities,” was aptly titled, as before the trip most participants had only limited exposure to an area so important to the state’s history.

The tour was created to help researchers connect with community partners and bring together the interests of new faculty, along with key administrators and undergraduate and graduate students, to community needs through research partnerships. These partnerships help fulfill the University’s mission, which reads in part, “to advance the intellectual and social condition of the people of the state, the nation and the world through … an emphasis on quality programs in the areas of teaching, research and service.”

Day One

A diverse group of UA faculty and staff, graduate and undergraduate students boarded a charter bus at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 10. Across each county — Greene, Hale and Tuscaloosa — panelists expressed their pride in and demonstrated their knowledge of the different communities and institutions they represented. Again and again tour members expressed their appreciation for the chance to go on the tour, how much they learned and how enthusiastically they were welcomed at the different sites.

Dr. James Gilbreath, a UA reference and instructional librarian, spoke for many when he said that although he had lived in Alabama his entire life, the tour of landmark civil rights sites and the opportunity to observe so many effective examples of community-engaged scholarship in action constituted an “unforgettable experience.” The Birmingham native said, “I will carry the memories of the trip with me for the rest of my life.”

The first stop was Eutaw, where the group learned about initiatives from members of the county’s Children’s Policy Council (CPC). CPC supports children’s services in the areas of economic security, health, safety, education, parental involvement/skills and early care. Panelists were Phyllis Belcher, executive director of the Greene County Industrial Development Board; Dr. Carol Zippert, Greene County School System board member and co-publisher of the Greene County Democrat; Mildred Morgan, facilitator of the CPC Strengthening Family Program; Dr. James Carter, superintendent of the Greene County School System; and Julie Spree, Greene County probate judge.

Before the panel began, District Court Judge Lillie Jones-Osborne pointed the group’s attention to the large portraits of local civil rights activists that served as the panel’s background. The portraits were placed there as part of the county’s Annual Trailblazer Program, just one of many CPC successful 2016–2017 school year projects.

The Strengthening Families Program, a six-week series of parenting classes, was one of those projects, as described by facilitator Mildred Morgan. During these classes, entire families came together to engage in healthy communication, Morgan said, reinforcing the importance of family gatherings, especially for meals.

At St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greensboro, the visitors listened to a panel led by Buzzy Barnette, owner of one of the town’s best-known stores, Barnette Furniture. Afterward, they shared a catered lunch and dessert from Greensboro’s famous Pie Lab, which has become an international destination. It was established in 2009 in an abandoned pool hall to promote social change over a delicious meal. As the groups soon learned, Pie Lab represented only one slice of the many active community-engaged projects in Greensboro — a town of about 2,500 people.

Other members of the panel were Laramie Long, director of the Greensboro Boys and Girls Club; Osie Pickens, member of the Hale County Board of Education; John Dorsey, director, Project Horseshoe Farm; Evelyn Chambers, member of the Greensboro City Council; Shay Fondren, CEO of Hale County Hospital; and Winifred Cobbs, board president of the Greensboro Opera House.

According to Dorsey, Horseshoe Farm has been a part of the Greensboro community since 2007. Among the many programs of this service and leadership development organization are its youth-based initiatives, such as the after-school program designed to improve local K–8 students’ academic performance on standardized math and reading tests. Its base of operations on Main Street is expanding into adjacent space to accommodate future medical residents coming to Greensboro and for classrooms and other uses.

Another group is working on the Opera House as a multipurpose cultural center. Built in 1903, the building sat empty for more than a half-century until Cobbs and her cohorts raised funds to purchase it. With additional grant funding from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the non-profit organization has restored the downstairs portion of the two-story building. Cobbs hopes to secure additional grants and funding to restore the upstairs theater so that Greensboro citizens can fully enjoy the cultural experience.

Before leaving Greensboro, the UA group gathered at the Safe House Black History Museum. The Museum, a modest, shotgun-style house, was the exact location where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sought refuge from the Ku Klux Klan in 1968. Enlarged quotes alongside photos and historical artifacts from that era are found throughout one of the property’s buildings. Theresa Burroughs, Safe House director, said the building encapsulates the struggle for civil rights in Alabama. An active participant of the Civil Rights Movement and friend of the King family, Burroughs walked the UA group down the “freedom” trail (a glass hallway) to the connecting “future” building, where several photos celebrate the movement’s achievements in Alabama and America.

After a 50-minute drive from Greensboro, the UA group reached its last stop of Day 1 at Holt High School, a county school northeast of Tuscaloosa. Members of the panel, reflecting community partners, UA faculty and local educators, shared their work on many projects in the Tuscaloosa and Holt communities.

Panelists were Amanda Waller, executive director of Tuscaloosa’s One Place; Debbie Crawford, principal of Holt Elementary School; Helen Sides, chair of Holt in Action; Aundrea Thomas, president of Holt Community Partnership; UA Professor of geropsychology Dr. Rebecca Allen, representing Project SOAR; Dr. Jen Nickelson, associate professor of Health Science, representing Holt Community Partnerships Health Lab; UA Associate Professor of developmental psychology Dr. Jeff Parker, working with local schools to stem pet overpopulation and other projects; UA Assistant Professor of social work Dr. Tania Alameda-Lawson, Alabama TOPS, a program for at-risk youth; and Jay Logan, director of community outreach for the Tuscaloosa County Parks and Recreation Authority.

It quickly became evident that many of the panelists had partnered together in some capacity within the Tuscaloosa, Holt and surrounding communities. For example, Alabama TOPS is a University/community-school partnership among Holt Elementary School, Tuscaloosa’s One Place, and UA’s College of Education and School of Social Work. The two-pronged program teaches personal and social responsibility through a sports-based after-school program that has reached 70 participating students this school year, according to Alameda-Lawson.

The family and community engagement component helps families within the community, many of whom live well below the poverty line. A Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) seed grant will expand this program to parents with children in Davis-Emerson Middle School during the 2017–2018 academic year.

Waller called attention to the parenting program Changing Habits and Making Parents Stronger (CHAMPS) as a Holt community program that has helped non-custodial fathers interact positively with their children. “We believe that stronger families make stronger communities,” Waller said, and that these programs provide needed resources to families.

Day Two

On May 11, the tour visited Pickens County Medical Center and Pickens County Courthouse; Hill Hospital and Coleman Center for the Arts and Culture in Sumter County; and Judson College and Marion Military Institute in Perry County.

At the Pickens County Medical Center, the UA group attended a panel discussion made up of representatives of Pickens County. Dr. Pruitt, vice president for Community Affairs at UA, opened the discussion by introducing the main purpose and mission of the tours. Panelists then described some of the key engagement projects being implemented in the area and the possible partnerships they hoped to attract from UA. Partners with unique talents, such as experts in nutrition and health care, were mentioned as those needed the most.

Dr. Michele Montgomery and Dr. Paige Johnson from the Capstone College of Nursing said that starting with seed fund grants from the Council on Community-Based Partnerships, initiatives have been implemented that focus on health promotion and disease prevention, as well as engaging the students with rural areas surrounding the University.

Montgomery discussed an earlier initiative of health screening of cardiovascular risk factors for the pre-school children in Carrollton (Pickens County) and Tuscaloosa. Johnson said the College of Nursing is planning to extend the screening process to all of Pickens County. Johnson assured those in attendance that UA “is not going to go away. We’re going to be here!”

Jim Marshall, CEO of Pickens County Medical Center, described cooperative efforts to increase the volume of business of the hospital. According to Marshall, communication and education are very important to a rural hospital like Pickens County Health Center because people’s lack of information of what the hospital can do not only affects their health, but also results in loss of patients for the hospital. He said he hoped future partnerships with UA would focus on information dissemination and follow-ups beneficial to the hospital.

Other panelists were Tony Junkin, District 3 county commissioner; Gordo Mayor Craig Patterson; Superintendent of Pickens County Schools Jamie Chapman; and Courtney Rentas, a 2016 UA graduate and Goldwater Scholar and now a University of Alabama/Pickens County Partnership Fellow.

After touring the Pickens County Medical Center, the group visited the Pickens County Courthouse. Patti Presley-Fuller, County Extension coordinator, told the visitors the famous ghost story of former slave Henry Wells’ image etched in one of the windows of the building. The story of “The Face in the Courthouse Window” became one of author Kathryn Tucker Windham’s famous ghost stories. Some in the group claimed they could see the famous image etched in a windowpane on the upper level of the building.

At Sumter County, the group first visited Coleman Center for the Arts and Culture, a local museum and art education center for grassroots artists. Jackie Clay, director of the Center, said that the center is holding a multi-disciplinary summer camp and is always looking for new partners. The group attended a second panel discussion at Hill Hospital.

Tommie Campbell, chairperson of Sumter School Board, said, “Good things are happening in Livingston Sumter County school system.” She and Tramene Maye, Livingston Junior High School principal, cited a growing reputation for high achievements by students, new facilities and initiatives in process and the ongoing programs aiming to increase student standardized test scores.

Loretta Wilson, administrator of Hill Hospital, stressed the need to maintain partnerships with different organizations to deliver medical services to the community. According to Wilson, with the new federal value-based payment system, the role of prevention has become more important in medical service delivery. Networking with organizations like UA, she said, helps in these goals.

Other panel members were Marcus Campbell, District 2 county commissioner; Tommie Armistead, District 4 county commissioner; and Jackie Clay, Coleman Center for the Arts and Culture director.

The third stop of the tour was Perry County. The group made a brief visit to Jewett Hall on the Judson College campus. Then they reached the last stop, Marion Military Institute. Originated in 1842, the Institute is a two-year military junior college offering an associate’s degree and military training to equip students with leadership skills and character development, as well as the basis for continuing their education at a four-year college or university.

Col. David J. Mollahan, Marion Military Institute president, outlined the history of the college. Chris Joiner, executive director of Renaissance Marion, a local community non-profit organization, and Davis Jackson, coordinator of 57 Miles, a student and faculty engagement program named for the distance between UA and Marion, expressed their desire to continue the establishment of sustainable partnerships with UA to fulfill the promise of Marion’s tomorrow.

Other panelists were Col. Ed Passmore, acting commandant and director of MMI’s Center for Service Leadership, and Amy Butler, coordinator of Faith-Based Service Learning at Judson College.

After each panel discussion, UA faculty members also described their research interests and discussed the possibility of future collaboration. Staff members of the Division of Community Affairs and CCBP also explained some of UA’s ongoing initiatives and programs to them. For example:

After the second day of the engagement tours, participants expressed their appreciation for the tour. “What I like most is how varied the different visits were … we can really see the scope of potential involvement for UA,” said Dr. Susan Carvalho, UA Graduate School dean. “The graduate program can find a great deal of inspiration in the partnerships that could be built or have already been built with these communities.”

Dr. Gilbreath, who had been especially impressed during the first day’s stops at civil rights landmarks, called Day 2 tremendous and the overall program brilliant. Even though an Alabama native, he said he still found the trip really eye-opening.

Katherine S. Eastman, a clinical and technical services librarian originally from California, said, “I have written down probably 500 different ideas. I’m definitely going to pursue more projects,” including helping Hill Hospital in Sumter County with materials related to their emphasis on disease prevention.

Day Three

On the third day of the tour administrators, faculty, staff and student researchers continued to explore new places, meet new people and engage new communities. Several members of the group had attended all three days, while others were just joining the tour. Yet each person on the tour found it informative and thought-provoking.

“I haven’t seen enough of Alabama since I’ve been here and I wanted to understand how student projects are sustainable and what kind of projects can create continuity between the University and the community,” said Carvalho, who spent two days touring with the group and came to UA in July 2016. “I’ve been impressed with the innovation within each of the communities as they work with the assets they have, and I’ve learned more about the resources UA can bring to bear.”

The day began at the Thomasville Civic Center before traveling to the Golden Dragon Plant in Pine Hill, both in Wilcox County. The panel discussion in Thomasville was led by Mayor Sheldon Day, with panel members from the county, city, school and business communities. The group discussed how they’ve created synergy by sharing resources to create more opportunities for citizens.

“What the library was doing in Thomasville was so amazing, making community crossroads for training and workforce development, and access to the Internet,” Carvalho said.

Several tour members were from the Chinese Sisterhood of Tuscaloosa organization and most had no idea there was a Chinese copper factory, Golden Dragon, roughly 100 miles from campus.

“I’m new to the University. This is my second year,” said Professor Di Luo, who teaches history. “I wanted to find opportunities to engage and I enjoyed the tour. It’s impressive to see how people can organize all kinds of things.”

Dr. Yuping Bao has taught chemical engineering at UA for nine years and said she approached Pruitt about assisting faculty and student groups in making these valuable connections with communities to help facilitate engaged research.

“He made it happen. I had no idea there was a Chinese factory in Wilcox County,” Bao said. “We may be able to help Golden Dragon.”

After lunch the group arrived in the Gee’s Bend community located in Boykin, Ala., where they met quilter Mary Ann Pettway, who told them how the quilters began their craft out of necessity, then sang a religious hymn for the group.

“I’m the seventh of twelve children,” she said. “We didn’t have beds, so we made quilts to sleep on the floor. Our homes were not warm enough.” Pettway now travels throughout the country telling the story of the Gee’s Bend Quilters. “They say it’s a dying art, but as long as I have breath, I’m going to keep it alive.” Pettway has served as manager of the quilting cooperative, where the women operate a gift shop and serve baked goods, since 2005. Several members of the group purchased quilted souvenirs.

At a second panel discussion, at the Marengo County History and Archives Museum, Thomas Moore Sr. led a panel composed of two school superintendents and two businessmen. They discussed how their community provides opportunities for its youth.

“Everything we do is moving toward technology and we have done extremely well in that area. Even being a rural school, academics still come first,” said Luther Hallmark, superintendent of Marengo County Schools.

The final panel discussion was led by CCBP Community Development Director Chris Spencer, joined by representatives from the non-profit, religious and business communities. The group discussed ideas for a reimagined and inclusive Selma with a thriving arts district.

“It had never dawned on that collective body that there are lots of communities within our community,” said Martha Lockett, a board member of the Black Belt Community Foundation and a supporter of Arts Revive, as she discussed Selma’s initial strategic planning meeting. “If we get Broad Street looking like gangbusters, and we get shops but people within a 10-block radius of Broad Street aren’t part of it, then we’ve failed in our mission. Some things are top-down, but energy is bottom-up.”

The tour would not have been complete without walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the footsteps of 600 marchers led by now U.S. Rep. John Lewis on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. Reflecting on her daily drive to Selma from Livingston, Felecia Lucky, president of the Black Belt Community Foundation, said, “To this day, when I see the Edmund Pettus Bridge I am often moved and in awe of what took place here and the impact that it had not only on this city, but on the world.”

The tour members said they felt more connected to the extended UA community after the tour.

“We often have opportunities for our students to get out and see things they wouldn’t see on their own, but I wanted that opportunity as well,” said Dr. Demetria Li, who has taught English to international students at UA for more than five years.

In addition to finding out about each community, tour members learned of assistance and training they could receive from CCBP staff and student assistants. Jim McLean, CCBP executive director, invited community members to register for free grant-writing training and told them about K–12 student workshops on campus.

Again and again tour members expressed their appreciation for the chance to go on the tour, how much they learned and how enthusiastically they were welcomed at the different sites. Tour members said they felt more connected to the extended UA community after the tour.

“This tour showed us some amazing things that are happening right in our own backyard,” said Pruitt. “It’s the first time the University has done something like this. We saw firsthand how our core mission of teaching, research and service is having a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. It was especially helpful for some of our new faculty to get out and meet some of the people we are working with and have conversations that will strengthen current partnerships and lead to the development of others.”

Top Engagement Research and Other Achievements Recognized at CCBP 11th Awards Luncheon

  • April 25th, 2017
  • in CCBP

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By Kirsten J. Barnes
CCBP Graduate Assistant

For the 11th consecutive year, The University of Alabama honored the campus and community’s best examples of engagement scholarship and recognized other community-related activities at the Council on Community-Based Partnership’s annual awards ceremony Friday, April 14 in the Bryant Conference Center’s Sellers Auditorium.

As noted by several speakers and by the quality of the projects being recognized, engagement scholarship has made rapid advancements and improvements on the UA campus over these past 11 years.

Engagement scholarship at The University of Alabama, combines the traditions and mission of teaching, research and service in equitable partnerships with communities external to the campus.

“Today we honor those who conduct research in a very special way,” said Dr. James E. McLean, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP).

“We honor UA personnel and their community partners for their unique approach to the solution of community problems. However, this approach is far more than just conducting research in another way. This approach addresses all three components of the University’s primary mission of teaching, research and service all at one time.”

With about 200 people looking on, dozens of faculty, staff, students and community members were recognized for their contributions.

Receiving the Outstanding Special Achievement in Community Engagement Award was Dr. Carl A. Pinkert, vice president for the Division of Research and Economic Development. In presenting the award, Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for the Division of Community Affairs, thanked Dr. Pinkert for his support of CCBP, especially in the area of seed funding and other research support. “He has not only helped us secure funds but he has also funded some projects from his own budget,” Pruitt said. Pinkert became vice president of the division in 2013 and has presided over the expansion of UA as a research university. Pinkert received his doctorate from the University of Georgia and has served as a research professor in such institutions as UAB and University of Rochester. Pruitt praised him for raising the campus-wide profile of the University’s research and grants activities.

The year’s recipient of the Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship is Charles E. “Chas” Shipman II. Shipman is a junior in computer science from Montgomery, Alabama. He volunteers his time on behalf of dozens of CCBP-facilitated community programs. “Chas is simply the best,” said his supervisor, Yun Fu, CCBP program coordinator. “He works with all of our directors and programs, helping them to perform at their best. He solves our computer problems, monitors supplies, assists staff and serves as supervisor of our work-study students.”

The scholarship is named for Zachary David Dodson, who embodied the best of what engagement scholarship means at UA. Much like this year’s winner, Dodson was involved in most of CCBP’s programs. He died in 2012 on the day he was to have received his University of Alabama degree in economics.

Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster received the Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar award in the faculty/staff category. Recognized for research related to her dual roles as associate professor of community and rural medicine and deputy director of the Institute for Rural Health Research in UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, Payne-Foster said the award had special meaning. “Sometimes you work so hard and you feel you are not appreciated,” she said. In 2012 she received a multi-year grant in excess of $500,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to changing the stigma of HIV/AIDS in rural Alabama. “It feels good to realize people are watching and they recognize your efforts. This is truly an honor.”

Third-year College of Communication and Information Sciences doctoral student Joon Yea Lee is this year’s Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar in the student category. Lee produces video documentaries and helps CCBP Communication and Research Director Dr. Ed Mullins with press training and assigning of other CCBP students.  “This was a very happy surprise,” said the South Korean native.  “I totally owe it all to Dr. (Ed) Mullins. He is the mentor who guides me through what I need to do. I owe it all to him.” However, Mullins said, “Joon’s work is her own. We are very fortunate to have a student who is also an experienced professional journalist and willing to take on such key duties here at the center.”

Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick, executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach, is this year’s Distinguished Community-Engagement Scholar in the community partner category. Kirkpatrick’s work helps to reduce the stigma of the disease among HIV/AIDS patients.

Excellence Awards for Outstanding Engagement Effort were presented to faculty, staff, students and community partners who have identified needs in the community, developed means to address those needs, acted to achieve outcomes, and demonstrated measured success in achieving those outcomes. The recipients were:

Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort — Dr. Jen Nickelson, associate professor of health science; Dr. Kagendo Mutua, professor of special education and multiple abilities; and Dr. David L. Albright, associate professor of social work.

Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort — Allyson Mitchell, undergraduate student in communicative disorders; Army Lt. Col. John Kilpatrick, social work master’s student; and Ethan Newsome-Jackson, engineering undergraduate student.

Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort — Qiaoli Liang of the Chinese Sisterhood program; Dr. Billy Kirkpatrick, executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach; and John Tyson Jr., retired Mobile county district attorney.

Winners of this year’s $5,000 research seed funds were Dr. Tania Alameda-Lawson and Dr. Laura Hopson, both from the School of Social Work, for their project Collective Parent Engagement and Service Learning at Davis-Emerson Middle School; and Craig Wedderspoon, of the art and art history department, for his project Growing Art.

Named to receive travel funds to support community engagement research and scholarship were Brenna Sweetman, geography department, to present her work for the Water Conservation and Effective Watershed Management project in Punta Gorda, Belize; Dr. Kevin Andrew Richards and Victoria Shiver, both in the department of kinesiology, to present their project, The Development of an After-School Program for Youth Placed At-Risk: A Collaborative Approach, in Savannah, Georgia; Douglas Craddock Jr., doctoral student in higher education administration, to present his project, From Greensboro to Greensboro, Contrasting Two Community Partnerships to Propel Men of Color to Success, in Greensboro, North Carolina; Calia Torres, doctoral student in psychology, to present her project, Reducing Disparities with Literacy-Adapted Psychosocial Treatments for Chronic Pain: The Effect of the Lamp Intervention on Patients’ Pain and Psychosocial Functioning, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Dr. Safiya George, associate professor in the Capstone College of Nursing, to present her project, Telemedicine Perceptions of Rural Patients With HIV and Mental Health Issues, in Paris, France.

Three fellowship awards were provided through the Graduate School available in the 2017–2018 funding cycle. They carry a $15,000 stipend payable over fall and spring semesters, a full tuition grant for both semesters and a healthcare stipend. The recipients were Matthew Price, doctoral student in civil, construction and environmental engineering; Kelsey Ann Dyer, master’s student in special education and multiple abilities; and Margaret L. Holloway, doctoral student in English.

Dr. Pruitt provided closing remarks. “We’ve had a great day today and I am so proud of all of those who were honored today and all of those who make this event possible,” he said.

Prior to the awards luncheon, attendees had the opportunity to view a variety of posters depicting research projects across the curriculum. Researchers and their projects included:

  • Dr. Natasha Dimova, assistant professor, geological sciences, and students Jenna Graham, Christine N. Bassett and Hannah Wright, Establishing Alabama GeoKids Initiative
  • Students Peyton Williams, Katherine Metcalf and Chloe Edwards, UA Family Readers Program
  • Dr. Yuehan Lu and students Shuo Chen, Peng Shang, Man Lu, Connor Kirkland and Zachary Stephens, Engaging USDA Scientists and Landowners for Identifying Sources of Nutrient Pollution in Agricultural Watersheds
  • Student Andrea K. Newman, Health Care Utilization and Opioid Prescriptions in Low-Income Settings
  • Parent Teacher Leadership Academy participants Kim Pate, Brandy Hicks and Emily Glasgow, Betsy Bulldog
  • UA Instructor Teri Henley and student Lindsay Rudoff, Capstone Agency/Campus Veterans’ Association Collaboration 
  • Parent Teacher Leadership Academy participants Brittany Harris, Samara Early and Nakami Townsell, Shh…Don’t BUG us, We are Reading! 
  • Student April Caddell, Remote Tutoring: Technology Use in University Partnerships 
  • Parent Teacher Leadership Academy participants Danny Morales, Hillary Stephens and Rebecca Wheat, Bow Ties and Bows & Hats and Heels 
  • Dr. Michelle Bachelor Robinson, assistant professor, English, and students Khirsten L. Echols, Margaret Holloway and Candace Chambers, #blackgirls4change: The Hobson City 9, Using PhotoVoice to Cultivate Community and Create Change 
  • Students Kaleb Murry, Keisha Carden Ivey, Deanna Dragan and Christopher Spencer, Project SOAR: Using CBPR to Bridge the Campus-to-Community Gap 
  • Dr. Richard Streiffer, dean of the College of Community Health Sciences, and fellows Courtney Rentas, August Anderson, Judson Russell and Laura Beth Brown, The University of Alabama/Pickens County Partnership: A Health Care Teaching County 
  • Student Talmage McDonald and April Cadelle, Summer Literacy in Motion 
  • Dr. Jen Nickelson, associate professor in the Department of Health Science, and student Dashauna Ballard, Combining CBPR and Engaged Scholarship to Conduct Nutritional and Physical Activity Audits in an Underserved Community 
  • Parent Teacher Leadership Academy participants Christy Byars, Amy Thames, Matt Wilson, Kirstin Hall, Mirella Ruelas and Elvia Casillas, Charge Up TIS 
  • Dr. Jen Nickelson, associate professor in the Department of Health Science, and students Dashauna Ballard and Kristen Allen, Building Trust Among Community Partners by Understanding Their History.Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the College of Education, is chair of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships, a 150-member community-based research leadership organization with membership composed of community members and faculty, staff and students representative of all academic divisions of campus.

Chinese New Year Celebration Draws More Than 400 Participants

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By Jianlong Yang
CCBP Student Assistant

A Chinese New Year party to celebrate the Year of the Rooster at the UA Ferguson Center on January 29 drew more than 400 attendees from Chinese and local families and University faculty and staff.

The event was co-sponsored by the Chinese Sisterhood of Tuscaloosa, the UA Division of Community Affairs and two of its affiliated units, the Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) and Crossroads Community Center. The Sisterhood is composed of both UA students and members of the Tuscaloosa area Chinese community.

“Chinese Sisterhood Tuscaloosa is a 501c-3 nonprofit organization with the mission of promoting heritage, education and community in ways that enable groups from different backgrounds to learn and understand the culture of others,” said Yun Fu, CCBP program coordinator and one of the event organizers.

Sisterhood president Qiaoli Lang, a UA staff member in the chemistry department, said, “We decided to make it bigger and more inclusive this year.”

Guests, who were greeted by signs reading “Happy Spring Festival” in Chinese characters, were served with many traditional homemade Chinese foods of the kind not usually found in commercial Chinese restaurants.

The celebration included a Chinese Dragon Dance, directed by Yan Wang; Kids Fashion Show, directed by Xiao Tong; Thai Chi, directed by Yun Fu; Qipao Fashion Walk, directed by Fu and Qiaoli Liang; Chinese Qipao Dance, directed by Fu; a skit entitled “Beautiful Roster,” directed by Shan Jiang; Kids Musical, directed by Yibing Liu; Chinese Radio Aerobics and a session called Zumba Workout.

Performers and many attendees were dressed in Qipao (traditional women’s attire), Tangzhuang (traditional jacket), and many other traditional Chinese costumes.

Chinese New Year, also known in China as the Spring Festival, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, a type of calendar whose dates indicate both the moon phase and the time of the solar year.

Every 12 years there is a Rooster year, always after a Monkey year and before a Dog year. The official Chinese New Year began January 28 and will last until February 15, 2018.

The purpose of the celebration is expressed in the traditional phrase “good health, good luck, and much happiness throughout the year.”

Liang said the events provide a way to help Chinese children in the community connect with their culture. The Sisterhood’s Chinese school helps with language courses, because learning a new language is especially difficult as you age.

A special service of CCBP is its Language Partners Program in which University students work with foreign students to teach them English one on one. The program pairs volunteers — most of whom are students working in CCBP — with visiting faculty members and international students who want to improve their English speaking and writing skills, learn more about American culture and become better oriented to the University and Tuscaloosa.

Fu is the program’s coordinator and is currently seeking volunteers. She may be reached at 205-348-7392 or at

Center for Community-Based Partnerships (CCBP) to Hold 10th Annual Awards Program and Luncheon

TUSCALOOSA – A special awards program recognizing the best of engaged scholarship conducted by faculty, staff, student and community teams turns 10 years old on Friday, April 29. Activities begin with research poster presentations at 10 a.m., with the luncheon and program following at 11:30 in Sellers Auditorium of the Bryant Conference Center.

 “The Excellence in Community Engagement Awards is one of the most important events on our calendar,” said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for the Division of Community Affairs. “The ceremony brings campus and community together to give much-deserved recognition for the many examples of campus-community collaboration that take place each year.”

 Special guests in attendance will be members of the newly created Community Affairs Board of Advisors, which is holding its first meeting on Thursday, April 28 at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Its purpose is to support campus-wide initiatives that encourage student success and retention, facilitate entrepreneurship, and support innovation and global leadership.

Among the awards to be presented are the following:

 • Tera “CeeCee” Johnson, a junior in psychology, will receive the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Endowed Scholarship. This is the second year of the award named for the late CCBP work-study student.

• Dr. Beverly E. Thorn, professor of psychology, will receive the faculty Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar award for her leadership, research and dedication to the people of Alabama.

 • Calia Torres, doctoral student in clinical psychology, Dr. Thorn’s student, will receive the student Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar award for her work with Whatley Health Services.

 • Deborah Tucker will receive the community partner Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar Award for her commitment to community service as CEO of Whatley Health Services.

Receiving Outstanding Faculty-Initiated Engagement Effort awards will be Thorn; Dr. Rebecca Allen, professor of psychology; Teri Henley, instructor of advertising and public relations; and Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost for International Education and Global Outreach.

Fan Yang, doctoral student in social work, will receive an award for Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort. Two awards will be given for Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort. Alberta McCrory, mayor of Hobson City, Alabama will receive one of the awards, and Buddy Kirk, Patti Presley-Fuller, and Rep. Alan Harper, all of Pickens County, will receive the other.

 A highlight of the event each year is the presentation of research posters, which may be viewed before and after the awards program. This year a record 21 posters were accepted for presentation. Dr. Jen Nickelsen, associate professor of health science, oversees this activity and is also chair of the Travel Funds Committee. She will announce names of those receiving travel support for 2016-17.

 Dr. Laurie Bonnici, chair of the Proposal and Seed Funding Committee, will announce names of the 2016-17 seed fund recipients. Dr. Rebecca Allen, who oversees the graduate fellowship awards, will announce names of those recipients. Calia Torres and “CeeCee” Johnson, co-chair the Student Involvement and Support Committee, will give a report on their committee’s activities during the past year. And Amanda Waller, chair of the Community Partnership Support Committee, will give the report for that committee.

 Dr. David A. Francko, dean of the Graduate School, is chair of the CCBP Executive Committee responsible for the annual awards program. After Friday’s program, Francko will step down from his CCBP position. Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the College of Education, will succeed Francko as Executive Committee chair.    

Dr. David Francko

Tera CeCe Johnson

Calia Torres-2
Calia Torres

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Deborah Tucker

Dr. Beverly Thorn