UA to Host National Conference on Academics, Strong Communities
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama is hosting the largest gathering in the world of university faculty, staff, students and community partners who are engaged in research projects that bring together community and academic leaders to solve problems and create positive change.
The 2012 National Outreach Scholarship Conference will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the Bryant Conference Center on the UA campus. More than 500 delegates from 75 colleges and universities in 35 states, Canada and Africa are expected to attend this year’s conference with the theme of “Partner. Inspire. Change.”
The focus of NOSC 2012 will be on “engagement scholarship,” an integrated approach to higher education that combines teaching and research to solve critical problems through community partnerships.
“This is a great opportunity to host one of the most powerful events in higher education today as University faculty, staff, students and community partners explore best practices in working together to solve critical problems our communities face,” said UA President Guy Bailey. “We look forward to welcoming the engaged scholarship community to our campus.”
As host and a founding member of NOSC, UA has a tradition of using its resources to help solve community problems at home and abroad, said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, UA vice president for community affairs.
“UA brings benefits to the state through initiatives that include automobile industry development, rural health research and delivery, and improving opportunities for minorities and women in business and in the mass media,” Pruitt said.
Through its small grants program, UA has launched projects leading to additional research funding in excess of $5 million in science, medicine, education, library studies, engineering and the arts.
“Today, scholars at research universities use internal initiatives to go after external resources to expand their studies and consequently add to society’s body of knowledge,” Pruitt said. “This process adds to our students’ learning, our faculty’s resources, and improvements in the communities with whom we form partnerships.”
Opening the conference Monday, Oct. 1, at 3 p.m. in Sellers Auditorium will be former Ambassador to South Africa James Joseph, professor of the practice of public policy studies at Duke University and founder of the U.S.-Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke, who will discuss, “The Civic Engagement Imperative: Higher Education and the Public Good.” Joseph taught at Stillman College and was a leader of the local civil rights movement in the 1960s.
As host, UA will treat participants to some local flavor by serving Alabama food and providing specially-made conference bags created by the seamstresses of Black Belt Designs of York.
There will be a special event at UA’s historic Foster Auditorium and Malone-Hood Plaza on Tuesday, Oct. 2, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. featuring Dr. Cully Clark, noted civil rights expert and former UA administrator, and Wendell Hudson, UA Women’s Basketball Team head coach and former player who was the first African-American athlete to join the UA men’s team on scholarship.
Winners of the prestigious NOSC Magrath Awards will also be selected during the meeting, and the winners will be announced at a luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 12:30 p.m. in Sellers Auditorium.
This year’s meeting will feature some 234 research presentations in 89 concurrent sessions in three tracks — faculty/staff, students and community partners. Some 63 research proposals are from UA and Auburn University faculty, staff and students or their community partners.
“By bringing this important international conference to Alabama, these two great institutions will showcase our progress in science, engineering, the arts, social sciences and the humanities,” Pruitt said.
The two universities will co-sponsor “Barbecue, Blues, and Blue Jeans” in The Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium on Monday, Oct. 1, at 6:30 p.m. featuring the Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Blues Project.
Janet Griffith, UA assistant provost, and Ed Mullins, UA Center for Community-Based Partnerships director of communication and research, along with Auburn’s Dr. Chippewa Thomas, are members of the NOSC Leadership Committee, which plans the conference.
Presentations from UA faculty, staff and students show the range of work being done on campus and its positive impact, including:
“100 Lenses: How Arts-Based Youth Partnerships Transform Students’ Lives,” by Elliot Knight on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Central Room at 9:30 a.m.
The Black Belt 100 Lenses project depicts the culture of the Black Belt region of Alabama through the eyes of its youth. High school students from the 12 counties of the Alabama Black Belt region document and define what their culture means to them through the use of photography, film interviews, and written or oral narratives that capture and articulate both the positive and negative aspects of their communities.100 Lenses is a partnership between the Black Belt Community Foundation, the University of Alabama’s Center for Community-Based Partnerships, the Alabama State Council on the Arts and both public and private high schools.
“Bamboo as Catalyst for Creative, Educational and Economic Engagement Opportunities,” by Dr. Marcy Koontz, on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in Poster Symposium A from 8:30-10:15 a.m.
Koontz and colleagues have been at the forefront of bamboo-related research since 2010, using community-engaged scholarship principles. Koontz came up with an idea to build a learning park made with bamboo. Koontz and her colleagues have been going to schools, events and meetings to talk about bamboo and engaging students who are making various things from bamboo, including paper and charcoal. In partnership with the Northport community, work is under way on the park that will serve students and promote how bamboo can be grown in economically disadvantaged areas like Alabama’s Black Belt.
“From the Ground Up: The Evolution of a Partnership,” by Dr. Elizabeth Wilson on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Central Room from 3-3:45 p.m.
The Holt Community Partnership is a university-school-community partnership developed to improve and revive the economically disadvantaged Holt community by working together to provide education, social and health services. The partnership also works to revive a positive community identity and spirit that transforms lives through opportunities, education, unity and safety.
“Using Farmers Markets as a Model for Community Engagement,” by Andrea Mabry on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Wilson Room at 10:30 a.m.
Homegrown Alabama is UA’s student-run, campus farmers market open to the community featuring local food, products, activities for children and entertainment. The weekly market brings the campus and community together in the celebration of healthy, locally produced food. Mabry and others will present their research findings on local food markets.
A complete list of all events and presentations can be found by going to the conference website at www.nosc2012.ua.edu.
In 2009, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awarded The University of Alabama its Community Engagement Classification, recognizing UA as one of the nation’s premier institutions in community-engaged scholarship. The Carnegie Foundation recognizes institutions in the categories of Curricular Engagement, Outreach/Partnerships or both. UA’s designation is for both areas.
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: Linda Hill, UA Media Relations, 205/348-8325, email@example.com
SOURCE: Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, UA vice president for community affairs, 205/348-8376, firstname.lastname@example.org; Janet Griffith, UA assistant provost, 205/348-8314, email@example.com