For the latest news, events and announcements about UA, please visit

The new UA News Center features news channels specifically for students, faculty and staff, media and research. The UA News Center uses video, photography and narrative to tell the UA story to our various audiences. It also serves as a hub for finding information on campus resources and calendars. will remain in place temporarily as an archive, but will no longer be updated.

The University of Alabama

UA Honors Faculty, Students and Residents at Excellence in Community Engagement Awards Luncheon

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama Council on Community-Based Partnerships will honor leaders  in community service at the ninth annual Excellence in Community Engagement awards luncheon Friday, April 17, at the Bryant Conference Center. The program begins at 10 a.m. with research poster presentations, and the awards program starts at 11:30. The council also will celebrate UA’s 2015 Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification as an engaged institution and award the first Zachary Dodson Memorial Scholarship.

“I am enthusiastic not only about Friday’s awards program, but also about the new leadership of the council and of our Carnegie recognition for community and curricular engagement,” said Dr. David A. Francko, chair of the council and dean of UA’s Graduate School. “Under the leadership of Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, the council was reorganized to give leadership roles to more faculty, student and community partners, and we believe these changes, along with the Carnegie recognition, will provide the structure and momentum for our university and the state of Alabama to continue to serve as a national leader in community engaged scholarship.”

Among those being recognized are UA President Judy Bonner; longtime Tuscaloosa community and university leader and volunteer Star Bloom; Dr. Philip W. Johnson, associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering; Dr. Pauline D. Johnson, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering; educational psychology doctoral student Adriane Sheffield; and undergraduate student Adam Bonertz, a junior in the Capstone College of Nursing from Fort Collins, Colorado. Bonertz will receive the first Zachary David Dodson Memorial Scholarship, named for an award-winning student who died in 2012. Dodson’s mother, Tara Stutts of Jacksonville, Fla., will be in attendance at Friday’s luncheon.

Bonner will receive the Outstanding Special Achievement in Community Engagement award.

“President Bonner brought an inspired vision of the presidency that said the University of Alabama is here for the people of Alabama and beyond, not just for those of us who happen to be working or studying here at a given time,” said Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, vice president for community affairs. “It was her example and support of what we do in the Division of Community Affairs that lifted us to higher levels of community engagement, to share the tools and resources of this University with the people who make our University possible.”

The Johnsons will receive the Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar–Faculty award. In 2005, Philip and Pauline Johnson co-founded what today is known as Student Engineers in Action. They have mentored students in incubating, planning, funding, executing and evaluating local and international projects, including eight summer projects in sanitation, water, solar and traditional energy systems in remote villages in Peru and drinking-water sanitation projects in Vietnam and Cambodia. They have partnered with the Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization, Sumter County schools and Habitat for Humanity, and have served as faculty mentors for many Black Belt sanitation, water and recreational enhancement projects.

Sheffield will receive the Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar–Student award. Sheffield has volunteered in many community and school activities designed to improve the lives of Alabama children. The Birmingham native has worked with children with behavioral problems at Brewer Porch; partnered with University Place Elementary School and West-Side Scholars; and served as a University of Alabama SCOPE (Scholars for Community Outreach, Partnership, and Engagement) Fellow.

She is the lead researcher and project director of STARS (Strengths, Talents and Resources in Students) program at University Place Elementary. STARS is a partnership involving University Place Elementary and middle schools in the Tuscaloosa City School System and the College of Education’s department of educational psychology. In STARS, fourth- through eighth-graders are paired with pre-service teachers during their Introduction to Educational Psychology class. The focus is on strengths-based mentoring to build positive relationships, identify student strengths, develop and implement goal plans and offer tips for school success.

Bloom will receive the Distinguished Community-Engaged Scholar–Community Partner award for a career of service to communities and the University. From communication to teaching, from fundraising to consulting, from leadership to serving as a member of scores of winning teams, Bloom has been active in both higher education and community outreach. She spent several years in curriculum development, grant writing and teaching, which led her to Al’s Pals.

“As director, I am responsible for making Al’s Pals a meaningful experience for both the children we serve and the UA students who volunteer as mentors,” she said. “I can’t think of anything I would rather be doing. Seeing the closeness and affection that develops between each pair and the progress the children make in academics and social skills is so incredible.”

The first recipient of the Zachary David Dodson Memorial Scholarship is Adam Bonertz. He was identified as the student working in Community-Based Partnerships who best reflects the qualities of excellence and dedication to community engagement exemplified in the life of the late Zachary Dodson, one of the program’s most outstanding student assistants. As a student assistant, Bonertz interacts with students, faculty, and community professionals on a daily basis. Scheduled to graduate in 2017, he carries a 4.0 grade point average and is a member of the Honors College.

At the time of his death, Dodson was scheduled to graduate magna cum laude from the University with a degree in economics. He had already been accepted for graduate study. The scholarship named in his honor is intended for a person with the qualities of excellence and faithfulness Dodson reflected in his time at UA. A Work Study student in the Center for Community-Based Partnerships, Dodson was known as someone who would get his work done and then offer to help others with theirs. He was on the Dean’s or President’s list frequently and was a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honorary Society. In 2012, he was named the campus-wide Student Employee of the Year.

Receiving awards for Outstanding Faculty/Staff-Initiated Engagement Effort are Dr. Jane Newman, associate professor of gifted and talented education; Dr. Jeff Gray, professor of computer science; and Dr. Ansley T. Gilpin, assistant professor of psychology;  and a University-City of Tuscaloosa team that created The Edge, a business start-up and entrepreneurial venture. These scholarly projects run the gamut from service learning to computer science summer camps, from creating safe and effective environments for parents and children to getting new business started and older businesses rejuvenated.

Receiving awards for Outstanding Student-Initiated Engagement Effort are Zachary Wahl-Alexander, graduate student in kinesiology; David Hose, graduate student in the Culverhouse College Commerce of Business Administration; and Adriane Sheffield, graduate student in educational psychology.

Receiving awards for Outstanding Community Partner-Initiated Engagement Effort are Donna Northington, Turner Broadcasting System; Katie McAllister and Emily Bibb, Paul R. Jones Gallery; College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr.  Robert F. Olin; Donald Hays, executive assistant to the dean for external affairs, College of Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Lucy Curzon, associate professor of art and art history.

This year’s program comes during the semester in which UA learned it had received the 2015 Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification, a designation good through the year 2025. UA is recognized as a model institution in collaboration with community organizations to build excellence in areas of mutual interest. UA joins 240 other institutions of higher education in achieving this prestigious classification.



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: Richard LeComte, media relations,, 205/348-3782
  • SOURCE: Dr. David A. Francko, dean of the Graduate School and chair of the Council on Community-Based Partnerships,, 205/348-8280; and Dr. George L. Daniels, assistant dean, College of Communication and Information Sciences,, 205/348-8618