Network honors university president, faculty, staff with 2015 engagement awards

February 20, 2015
Presidents Lambert and Hatch (L-R) Photo: Scott Muthersbaugh
Presidents Lambert and Hatch (L-R) Photo: Scott Muthersbaugh

North Carolina Campus Compact is proud to announce the recipients of our 2015 engagement awards. Each year, our network recognizes outstanding individuals for their efforts to advance the field of civic and community engagement in our state. This year we honor one president, one faculty member, and two staff administrators who work to realize their college or university’s commitment to becoming an “engaged campus.”

The recipient of the 2015 Leo M. Lambert Engaged Leader Award is Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch. The 2015 Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award goes to UNC Greensboro Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture Travis Hicks. The Civic Engagement Professional of the Year Awards recognize staff members in two separate categories: Lane Perry of Western Carolina University is the 2015 “Emerging Leader” honoree, and Dena Shonts of Central Piedmont Community College is this year’s “Sustainer.”

HPU's Nido Qubein and Elon's Lambert present Engaged Leader Award to Hatch. Photo: Scott Muthersbaugh
HPU’s Nido Qubein and Elon’s Lambert present Engaged Leader Award to Hatch. Photo: Scott Muthersbaugh

Each award recipient was honored during a special ceremony earlier this week at the network’s annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement (PACE) Conference. High Point University President Nido Qubein, chair of the Compact’s executive board, presented the awards.

Leo M. Lambert Engaged Leader Award

Named in honor of Elon University’s president Dr. Leo Lambert, who was the first NC Campus Compact Executive Board Chair, the Lambert Engaged Leader Award is given annually to one North Carolina college or university leader who is committed to creating and sustaining efforts that deeply impact community and campus. The honoree is nominated and selected by fellow presidents and chancellors whose institutions are members of the Compact network.

Since becoming the 13th president of Wake Forest University in 2005, Dr. Nathan O. Hatch has overseen a strategic focus on the university’s mission, Pro Humanitate (“For Humanity”). During his tenure, Wake has developed new programs to educate the whole person, reinvent the 21st century liberal arts education with an emphasis on personal and career preparedness, and build community through a three-year residency requirement. Dr. Hatch established the Office of Personal Career Development with a mandate to develop mentoring, course offerings, lectures and retreats that help students think through larger questions about how values should shape professional choices. In 2014, Hatch saw the creation of the Pro Humanitate Institute, which brings together many of Wake’s community engagement efforts, furthers the university’s commitment to the common good, and creates new opportunities for student learning in and out of the classroom.

Within the greater Winston-Salem community, President Hatch is recognized as an influential leader. A board member of the United Way of Forsyth County, he served as chairman of the 2010 United Way Campaign. He is a vocal ally of numerous community-based efforts that are transforming the city as it moves from a manufacturing-based economy to an information-based economy.

Wake Forest University became a founding member of North Carolina Campus Compact in 2002 under President Thomas K. Hearn, Jr.

Robert L. Sigmon Service Learning Award

Hicks and UNCG colleague Emily Janke. Photo: Scott Muthersbaugh
Hicks and UNCG colleague Emily Janke. Photo: Scott Muthersbaugh

The Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award recognizes one faculty member in the state for significant contributions to the practice of service-learning, a pedagogical strategy that links community service to classroom study and reflection. North Carolina native Robert Sigmon, for whom the award is named, pioneered the approach in the 1970s.

Assistant Professor Travis L. Hicks is the tenth Sigmon winner, and the second from UNCG. Dr. Spoma Jovanovic, a professor in the department of communication studies, received the award in 2012. The award was first presented in 2006.

Four and a half years ago Hicks left a successful private sector career to teach full-time in UNCG’s Department of Interior Architecture. Already, his community-engaged approach has shaped his department’s culture, activities, and vision. Examples of design projects carried out by Hicks’ students include a homeless shelter for a High Point church, a greenhouse for Steelman Park in Greensboro, and a redevelopment plan for the Greensboro neighborhood of College Grove.

Hicks was instrumental in launching the Center for Community-Engaged Design (CC-ED) in April 2014, at a new location in the Glenwood neighborhood near UNCG. The interdisciplinary research center fosters community/university partnerships for meaningful research and design. There, students and faculty collaborate with community members and partner organizations, engaging stakeholders in design processes to address critical issues in underserved areas.

For his outstanding work in interior design education, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation awarded Hicks the prestigious 2014 CIDA Award of Excellence. In 2012, he received the university’s Mary Francis Stone Teaching Excellence Award, and he won the College of Arts & Sciences Teaching Excellence Award in 2013.

Civic Engagement Professionals of the Year

The Civic Engagement Profession of the Year Award recognizes a staff person for efforts to institutionalize a campus-wide vision of service, support the engagement of faculty and students, and form innovative campus-community partnerships. The award may be presented to both an “Emerging Leader” – with less than 5 years of professional work in the field – and to a longer-tenured “Sustainer.”

Perry and WCU colleague Dr. Carol Burton. Photo: Scott Muthersbaugh
Perry and WCU colleague Carol Burton. Photo: Scott Muthersbaugh

The 2015 “Emerging Leader” Professional of the Year, Dr. Lane G. Perry, III, joined Western Carolina University in 2012 as the director of the Center for Service Learning. Since then, Perry has fostered new collaborations to create and expand programs that link student learning and community service. He spearheaded creation of the Provost’s Advisory Board for Community Engagement and saw the number of service-learning courses grow from 14 documented classes in 2010 to over 50 courses today.

In 2013, Perry received a matched grant valued at $18,000 from the American Association of Colleges & Universities to develop the Ripple Effect Learning Community, an interdisciplinary program that has served 42 first-year WCU students over the past two years. Perry also supported a partnership between a Western entrepreneurship professor and Habitat for Humanity. The connection led to new Habitat projects in Jackson County, a campus Habitat chapter, and a new business plan for a local Habitat Restore. Also in 2013, Perry was elected to the board of the International Association for Research in Service Learning and Community Engagement.

In a letter nominating Perry for the award, one senior colleague wrote: “Lane’s energy, expertise, entrepreneurial spirit, and integrity are unparalleled.”

Civic Engagement "Sustainer" Dena Shonts
Civic Engagement “Sustainer” Dena Shonts

The 2015 “Sustainer” Professional of the Year is Dena K. Shonts, director of service-learning at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte. Since joining the student life staff at CPCC in 2004, Shonts has embodied the school’s growing support for academic service-learning and community engagement. Shonts became the college’s first dedicated service-learning coordinator in 2005 and became its first director of service-learning in 2008. She now oversees 4 professional staff serving all six CPCC campuses. Shonts has worked with more than 50 instructors from departments and disciplines as diverse as human services, biology, and welding; and she has cultivated learning partnerships with 100 community organizations. Her team oversees 25 community-based work study students each semester, and she has instituted numerous college-wide service programs and events, including an annual volunteer fair, MLK Day of Service, and alternative breaks.

“She has added so many programs to CPCC and has helped us grow as an institution,” said one nominator, “creating a true community college experience that encompasses not only academics, but a desire to make our community better.”

Shonts’s efforts have helped Central Piedmont appear on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in six of the last seven years the award was given, making CPCC the only community college in North Carolina so distinguished. The school was one of just two North Carolina community colleges to make the Honor Roll in 2014.

Any North Carolina Campus Compact member campus representative may nominate outstanding faculty and staff for the Sigmon Service-Learning Award or the Civic Engagement Professional of the Year Award. The call for nominations for these awards is issued in late November/early December with a deadline to submit nomination packets in early January.

The Compact’s executive board nominates and selects the Lambert Engaged Leader honoree.

In early autumn, North Carolina Campus Compact recognizes engaged college students with our Community Impact Student Awards and the John Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award.