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The University of Alabama

Best in Engaged Scholarship to Be Recognized at UA

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A Veterans Affairs program for people entering or returning to college after military service is among the exemplary projects that will be recognized Friday, April 20, at the sixth annual University of Alabama Center for Community-Based Partnerships awards luncheon.

The program begins at 10 a.m. in the Hotel Capstone with project displays and posters. Lunch begins at noon. The public is invited and there is no charge, but registration is required by calling 205/348-8376 or emailing

Leaders of the Tuscaloosa VA/UA project to be reognized include the VA Center’s Dr. Velda D. Pugh and Lawanda D. Vanhorn, a licensed graduate social worker.

The speaker for the event is an international leader in university outreach and engagement, Dr. Lee T. Todd Jr., former president of the University of Kentucky who helped UK gain recognition as a research university. He championed a program at UK called Commonwealth Collaboratives that turned $10,000 in small grants to some 40 faculty into a $50 million windfall for community-based research grants. Todd will receive an award for his contributions to engaged scholarship, which is a form of scholarship that combines teaching, research and service in partnerships with community organizations.

Dr. Lee T. Todd Jr.

The top individual award will go to College of Education Dean James E. “Jim” McLean, who will retire from the University at the end of this academic year. McLean was an early leader and advocate of forming higher ed/community partnerships to improve educational attainment and more accurate assessment.

Other faculty, staff, student and community-led projects to be recognized are:

• A service-learning course following the April 27 tornadoes taught by Dr. Michael Innis-Jimenez of the American studies department; a partnership by Dr. Ellen Griffith Spears, New College/American studies, and Dr. James Hall, New College director, with Sheila Washington, director of the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center.

• A student-run loan operation, Forza Financial, that helps low-income borrowers in rural Alabama start a business. Being recognized are David Bailey, Tyler Evans and Sebastian Medina, all of the UA College of Commerce and Business Administration.

• An art program created by education student Kate Werner in partnership with Tuscaloosa’s One Place, a family resource center. The project became a healing tool for children following the 2011 tornadoes.

• A program by the Alabama Poverty Project in association with UA’s University Fellows that helps Alabamians improve their educational attainment. The program, Blueprints, connects high school students and their families with resources and relationships to equip them to graduate from high school well prepared for college and a career.

• A newsletter that was established by Latrina Spencer and Melissa Kent for Oakdale Primary School with the assistance of Dr. George Daniels, UA journalism professor, and was so well received it is being continued because of its value in helping students improve their reading at grade level or above.

• A Nonprofit Leadership Academy that was created by Dr. Margaret Purcell of UA in cooperation with Amelia Trowbridge of the Walker County Nonprofit Council and Paul Kennedy of the Walker Area Community Foundation and is seen as the foundation for a statewide academy for professional development and continuing education for nonprofits.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Margaret Bishop or Linda Hill, media relations, or 205/348-8325
  • SOURCE: Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for community affairs, or 205/348-8376