MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony Highlights Exemplary University-Community Partnerships

MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards

Michigan State University has the most extensive academic support structure designed to advance its community engagement scholarship mission in the nation, and this year MSU deepened it with the inaugural University Outreach and Engagement Annual Awards Ceremony.

Presentations were made at the February 21 event at the Kellogg Center with an audience that included award recipients and their families, community partners, deans, colleagues, and students.

During her tenure, President Lou Anna K. Simon has advocated and affirmed university-community partnerships. "Community-engaged scholarship is at the heart of our land-grant tradition, and is firmly embedded in our culture. A university that recognizes itself as a vital component of a local or regional community understands that its partners must share in assessing their challenges and creating knowledge that can lead to enduring solutions."

Referring to the awards, President Simon said, "The recipients honored provide outstanding examples of the work that can be accomplished with a community-engaged approach and a collaborative spirit."

The awards program was established by University Outreach and Engagement (UOE) in 2005 with the Community Engagement Scholarship Award (CESA). Formerly known as the Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award, the CESA is a university-wide recognition of exemplary engaged scholarship with a community partner.

The 2016-2017 awards expansion introduced the Distinguished Partnership Awards, recognizing four highly regarded projects that emerge from CESA nominations in the areas of community-based research, creative activity, teaching, and service. These collaborations reflect engaged and scholarly community-based work that positively impacts both the community and scholarship. The 2016-17 awards ceremony expansion also included the Synergy Award for Exemplary Community Leadership in University-Community Partnerships and the MSU Community Engagement Scholarship Lifetime Achievement Award.

"We emphasize university-community partnerships that are collaborative, participatory, transformative, and anchored in scholarship. The 2017 awards represent the best of those efforts," said Hiram E. Fitzgerald, associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement.

Recipients of the 2017 awards include:

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Research

Recognition of a university-community partnership for significant, contextually-responsive, scholarly, and impactful collaboration in inquiry and the discovery of new knowledge and/or the development of new insights.

The Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project

Rebecca Campbell, Professor, College of Social Science
Wayne County Prosecutor's Office
Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board
Michigan State Police
Wayne County SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners)

After the 2009 discovery of approximately 11,000 unprocessed and untested sexual assault kits (SAKs) in a police property storage facility in Detroit, Dr. Campbell, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and partners worked together for five years to understand why so many SAKs were not tested. They developed comprehensive testing plans to ensure that all rape kits were tested for DNA and created trauma-informed support programs for survivors as their cases were re-opened for investigation and prosecution. The strategies and solutions developed in this project have been disseminated nationally to help other communities.

This partnership is also the recipient of MSU's 2017 Community Engagement Scholarship Award (CESA).

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity

Recognition of a university-community partnership for significant, contextually-responsive, scholarly, and impactful collaboration in the creation of new artistic or literary performances and expressions.

Young Playwrights Festival

Robert J. Roznowski, Associate Professor, College of Arts and Letters
Williamston High School

The Young Playwrights Festival (YPF) is a juried competition that offers mid-Michigan high school students the opportunity to submit an original short play for production. The plays are then performed twice before a live audience at Wharton Center's Pasant Theatre, followed by a public reflection and assessment process. The program began 20 years ago and has developed deeply collaborative roots among the academic, professional, and community partners who participate in jurying, mentoring, producing, directing, and advising creative and talented young people. Since the program's inception 67 mid-Michigan high schools have participated, with students submitting 1,703 plays; more than 650 Department of Theatre students and staff have contributed their time and expertise.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Teaching

Recognition of a university-community partnership for significant, contextually-responsive, scholarly, and impactful collaboration in sharing knowledge with learners through either formal or informal arrangements, whether credit-bearing, noncredit, guided by a teacher, or self-directed.

MIplaceTM Partnership Initiative

Mark A. Wyckoff, Professor, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Michigan State Housing Development Authority
Michigan Municipal League

The MIplaceTM Partnership initiative was created in response to the need to revitalize Michigan's downtowns. Through extensive placemaking training based on a new curriculum and guidebook, as well as technical assistance provided to stakeholder groups and communities across the state, the initiative has educated nearly 15,000 people about the importance of placemaking and been instrumental in the planning and implementation of dozens of placemaking projects through Michigan.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service

Recognition of a university-community partnership for significant, contextually-responsive, scholarly, and impactful collaboration in the utilization of scholarly expertise to address specific issues identified by individuals, organizations, industries, or communities.

Building a Statewide Research Network Based on Community Engagement

Jeffrey W. Dwyer, Professor, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and College of Human Medicine; director, MSU Extension
Mid-Michigan Health
Munson Medical Center
UP Health System-Marquette

Dwyer has spent nearly a decade working with community partners to build a statewide research network affiliated with the campuses of MSU's College of Human Medicine. His goal is to align the expertise of health-focused professionals from the university with communities in need. This statewide network is supporting community-engaged research and the development of collaborations. The team has collectively received funding from the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere for projects in the local community and has acquired more than $500,000 in funding through community partnerships designed to address local health needs.

Michigan State University Community Engagement Scholarship Lifetime Achievement Award

Recognition of outstanding and sustained accomplishment in community-engaged scholarship through research, creative activity, teaching, and/or service. Given the special nature of this distinction, it is not an annual award, but is conferred on those occasions in which the individuals' extraordinary accomplishments are sustained over the span of a career.

Mildred A. Horodynski, Professor, College of Nursing

For more than 25 years, Mildred Horodynski has directed her research towards reducing the risk of childhood obesity. She and her colleagues have developed and implemented innovative, evidence-based, multi-faceted curricula that empower parents to utilize appropriate nutritional guidelines and feeding practices. Her research builds on learner strengths and community diversity. This asset-based orientation also helps to build trust. Other key success factors include ongoing process evaluation and using existing community networks rather than trying to invent new ones. A few small changes can, over time, have a tremendous impact on community health and childhood obesity.

Synergy Award for Exemplary Community Leadership in University-Community Partnerships

This award recognizes individuals from public, nonprofit, or private sector organizations, or from the community at large, who collaborate and draw upon the scholarly knowledge and enthusiasm of MSU researchers, academic staff, experts, students, and others to produce positive, impactful work that benefit communities.

Renee Leone, Coordinator, MSU Science Festival

This year's award recognizes the passion and enthusiasm of a woman who attended a European science festival and returned to East Lansing with a goal of generating that same science enthusiasm in Michigan citizens, with the world-renowned scientific experts and resources at Michigan State University. The first MSU Science Festival, held in April 2013, attracted more than 11,000 attendees across 10 days, offered more than 150 unique presentations in a variety of formats, and spanned the science spectrum from astronomy to zoology. With Leone's leadership, the Festival continues to develop each year. It has more than doubled attendance and now includes activities around the state. It is supported by a wide range of community businesses, local nonprofits, MSU units, and student volunteers.

Frequently Asked Questions about the MSU University Outreach and Engagement Awards

What is the process?

The university-wide Community Engagement Scholarship Award (CESA) is conferred annually on an MSU faculty or academic staff member in recognition of highly engaged community-based scholarship collaborations that positively impact both the community and scholarship. The honor is bestowed by the president, provost, and representatives of the MSU Board of Trustees during the annual all-university MSU Awards Convocation.

Nominations are solicited in four categories: community-engaged research, creative activity, teaching, and service. The 2017 deadline is Thursday, October 5.

Finalists for the CESA are recognized with an MSU Distinguished Partnership Award.

The winning CESA partnership each year goes on to represent MSU in the competition for the regional W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Awards and the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award. These are among the most prestigious recognitions of exemplary engaged scholarship in the United States. The award process is administered by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC).

Where can I find more information?

CESA instructions are posted by the Office of the Provost each year in April, with submission deadlines due each October.

Information about UOE awards can be found at

  • Written by Carla Hills, University Outreach and Engagement

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