2016 Engagement Awards honor campus leaders who connect with community

February 29, 2016

North Carolina Campus Compact has honored one university head, one faculty member, and two campus administrators with its 2016 engagement awards. East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard received the 2016 Leo M. Lambert Engaged Leader Award; Western Carolina University Associate Professor Patricia Bricker was recognized with the Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award; and Warren Wilson College’s Dean of Service Cathy Kramer along with Pfeiffer University’s Kelly Misiak were named Civic Engagement Professionals of the Year in the “Sustainer” and “Emerging Leader” categories, respectively.

All four recipients were recognized at the network’s awards ceremony on February 10, held at High Point University in conjunction with the 2016 PACE Conference and the NC Presidents Forum. More than 250 faculty, staff, students, and community partners attended the events.

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ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard received the 2016 Lambert Engaged Leader Award.

Lambert Award winner Chancellor Steve Ballard has led East Carolina University since 2004, making him the longest-serving chancellor in the UNC System. Under Dr. Ballard’s leadership, East Carolina has been an engine of economic development in the region and forged deep partnerships with under-served communities.

For example, Ballard oversaw the opening of a new School of Dental Medicine at ECU, including the creation of a network of 10 “community service learning centers” that bring dental care to rural areas across the state. On the local level, he helped launch the Inter-Generational Community Center in 2007 to provide provide youth and community development programs in the west Greenville neighborhood.

During Ballard’s tenure, ECU has been nationally recognized for its engagement. The university was named an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University” by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities in 2015, and has twice received the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s community engagement classification. For its support of veterans and military families, ECU received the Department of Defense Freedom Award in 2010.

Ballard credited the ECU team's community engagement efforts.
Ballard credited the ECU team’s community engagement efforts.

Read more about Chancellor Ballard’s engaged leadership at ECU.

The Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award, which recognizes one faculty member in the state, goes to Dr. Patricia Bricker of Western Carolina University.

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WCU Chancellor David Belcher presented Dr. Bricker with the 2016 Sigmon Service-Learning Award.

An associate professor of science education and the associate director of the School of Teaching and Learning at WCU, Bricker has worked for fifteen years to educate pre-service teachers and school children in the region. Much of her community engagement and service-learning efforts focus on environmental education and healthy eating.

In 2009, she helped found the Local Food and Farm to School Education Project – also known as “Growing Minds @WCU.” The project is a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary partnership that provides both a training ground for pre-service teachers and a hands-on, farm to school experience for local kids.

One student says of Dr. Bricker: “The opportunity to learn from her has taught me so much about what it means to be a servant leader.”

Read more about Dr. Bricker’s community engagement and service-learning work.

The Civic Engagement Professional of the Year Award recognizes a staff person in the network for efforts to institutionalize a campus-wide vision of service, support the engagement of faculty and students, and develop campus-community partnerships.

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Warren Wilson’s Cathy Kramer, 2016 Civic Engagement “Sustainer” Professional of the Year.

Cathy Kramer of Warren Wilson College is honored as a “Sustainer,” having more than five years of work in higher education community engagement. When she took on the Dean of Service role in 2010, Kramer led a re-design of the college’s long-time service requirement from a “time-on-task” approach to one centered on student development.

This new model helps students progress through stages of engagement that include direct service and reflection, investigation of a complex issue, collaboration with a community partner, and planning for continued engagement beyond graduation.

In a letter supporting her nomination for the award, Warren Wilson President Steven Solnick says Kramer has “elevated the community engagement conversation among all of the college constituencies and raised the level of expectation of and for quality community-engaged work.”

Prior to becoming Dean of Service, Kramer was Dean of Students at Warren Wilson. She is an active participant in the Bonner Foundation’s national High Impact Initiative. Since the college was divided into two precincts in 2012 redistricting, Kramer has also been a key supporter of student voter engagement, working with local election officials to advocate for student voting rights.

Read more about Kramer’s work here. 

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Kelly Misiak (left) and Pfeiffer University President Colleen Perry Keith.

Winner of the Civic Engagement “Emerging Leader” Professional of the Year Award, Kelly Misiak is director of the Service Scholars program at Pfeiffer University’s Francis Center for Servant Leadership.

Since coming to Pfeiffer in 2014, Misiak has expanded service opportunities to address local hunger, engaged more students in Francis Center programs, and coordinated high-quality alternative service break trips.

“In just a couple of years,” says one nominator, “she has become the face of service and volunteerism at Pfeiffer.”

Misiak’s impact comes in part from her focus on hunger. She brokered a new partnership with the national Food Recovery Network and Pfeiffer’s campus dining services, and she led the creation of a new on-campus garden. Last year, the programs yielded more than 1,000 pounds of food, which was distributed to families through meals hosted by local non-profit partners.

Read more about Misiak’s work here.

The call for nominations for the 2017 Engagement Awards will be released in September.

North Carolina Campus Compact, the state affiliate of the national Campus Compact organization, builds the capacity of colleges and universities to educate engaged students and strengthen communities. Started in 2002 and hosted by Elon University, the statewide network includes 36 public, private, and community colleges and universities.

View a slideshow of the awards ceremony and PACE Conference.

(Photos in this post by Scott Mutherbaugh / Perfecta Visuals.)