University of Iowa

RECOGNIZING OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT WORK

The Office of Outreach and Engagement awards  partners for excellence and service 

Student, actor, director, teacher, and singer Tempestt Farrar confidently stepped up to the podium Wednesday, May 9, at the 2017-18 Annual Year-End Celebration for the Office of Outreach & Engagement to accept her award for Student Excellence and Service. She looked upward and sang out the first verse of Greatest Love of All. “This is how I feel,” she told an audience of faculty, staff, students, and community partners at the Levitt Center for University Advancement. Farrar described the growth and accomplishments she experienced through her work as a graduate assistant for Arts Share and the Office of Outreach & Engagement at the University of Iowa, as well as the growth she helped nurture in the individuals and students with whom she worked over the past year.

The event honored the work facilitated and supported by the Office of Outreach & Engagement over the past year, including roughly 40,000 hours of work completed by UI students and faculty in community engagement projects. Many were interdisciplinary, featuring students from multiple departments across campus, such as the College of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Public Health, Graduate College (Urban & Regional Planning), and the College of Business. Faculty, staff, and students from these areas and more worked in communities touching all four corners of the state, collaborating with community members, groups, and organizations on projects and events that might not otherwise be completed without university involvement.

“The Office of Outreach & Engagement partnered faculty and students in academic courses with community partners to complete real projects that made a difference in our state. This structure not only brings faculty and students to Iowa’s communities, but it also transforms how we teach and learn on campus,” said Linda Snetselaar, associate provost for Outreach & Engagement.

Dr. Andrew Seligsohn, president of Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education, spoke at the event and commended the UI for acknowledging the work students are doing in communities across the state. According to Seligsohn, research shows students whose institutions recognize and reward their outreach and engagement work not only better retain the information and skills gained through their community engaged learning, but they continue to be more involved and engaged citizens moving forward.

Tara Cullison won a Student Excellence and Service Award for her leadership and work with Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC). Cullison remarked on the value of outreach and engagement work from a student’s perspective. “Other than applying the work done in our courses in a real-world context, which was of course number one, the projects really build on some of our skills and introduce new skills we can use that are directly applicable to our careers. I was in an interview last week and they probably got sick of me talking about my Cedar County project. But every skill they were asking me to validate I learned in the past year or built on in the past year through this project,” Cullison said.

Cullison, along with five other Urban and Regional Planning students, worked with the Cedar County Board of Supervisors and other key stakeholders to create a comprehensive plan for Cedar County, something they haven’t done since 1980. Throughout the course of the academic year, Cullison was a strong leader for her group and took a lead role on developing a GIS land-use tool that will be used to guide growth and development in Cedar County, while preserving its rich agricultural land.

The Faculty Excellence and Service Award was presented to Lindsay Mattock, assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science, to recognize her for a project she and students from her Archives and Media class collaborated on. Students in the class built an entire database from the ground up and a website to accompany it in just one semester to inventory architectural buildings in the City of Mason City.

“I’m really honored and kind of surprised. The collaboration that happened feels so effortless with the amazing staff at the Office of Outreach & Engagement,” Mattock said when accepting her award. “It’s so refreshing to come to a place where community engagement is part of the mission of the university and very much encouraged. Of course without staff like Nick (Benson) and Travis (Kraus), these partnerships would not be possible. They came to me and had projects that naturally matched with the classes I teach. Of course our wonderful community partner, Mason City, was so welcoming and opened their doors to their community and archives and helped to share their knowledge and expertise and guide the students throughout the term.”

Mattock also called out her students. “They really are the heart of the project. Their dedication and enthusiasm really made the project successful,” she said.  “I feel so lucky and very excited to be in a place where community engagement and service learning is not only encouraged, it’s actively supported and awarded.”

In addition to honoring UI faculty and students, community partners and volunteers were recognized for their work and service. Mason City and East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA) just completed two-year collaborations with IISC that matched community needs with the expertise and resources of university faculty, staff, and students through courses, independent studies and research projects. In the past year alone, 26 projects were completed in association with these partnerships, involving more than 100 students and 13 departments. The ECIA partnership enabled the UI to work with 16 different small communities within their region this past academic year.

Bob and Ann Osterhaus received the Outstanding Community Partner Award for their work leading the Layers of Maquoketa project, which uncovered and celebrated the community’s history, stories, landscape, culture, and so much more. “Partnership with the University of Iowa over the last six or seven years has been one of the most exciting things we’ve ever been involved in as a community and as individuals,” said Bob Osterhaus. “You can’t believe what a good feeling it is to see our community change as a result of the commitment from the University of Iowa to our community. We’ve had some hard knocks in Maquoketa and we’re rising above them. …There ought to be about 25 people up here filling my shoes tonight, because all of them have had something to do with what we’ve accomplished. It’s a thrill to be recognized and it’s fun to rise to the challenge and do new things, big things for our community.”

The Osterhaus’s work was also recognized by Campus Compact, which awarded the Community Partnership Award to them and the entire Layers of Maquoketa steering committee, along with the University of Iowa. 

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The University of Iowa Provost’s Office of Outreach & Engagement

The Office of Outreach & Engagement connects hundreds of University of Iowa faculty, staff, and students to people and places across Iowa every year, creating partnerships that address community issues, enhance curricular experiences and create positive impact. The Office was established in the spring of 2013 and has touched 84 of Iowa’s 99 counties through programs and activities. For more information visit http://outreach.uiowa.edu or call 319-335-0684.

 

 

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