Awards Ceremonies Honor Exceptional Community Engagement

The upcoming All-University Awards Convocation will recognize the achievements of faculty, academic staff, and graduate students for their outstanding efforts and contributions during an in-person event on Wednesday, May 11 in the Big Ten Rooms at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing. Of the eight awards being presented, the Community Engagement Scholarship Award (CESA) will acknowledge community-based scholarship collaborations that positively impact both the community and scholarship. This year, the CESA will be bestowed upon Robin Lin Miller, professor of psychology, and her partner, MPact Global Action for Gay Men's Health and Rights, for their partnership implementing community-led strategies to address barriers to HIV care for gay and bisexual men and transgender women in African and Caribbean countries.

The recently convened MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony, honored the exemplary work of students, faculty, and staff in collaboration with community-based partners to address large-scale problems and challenging societal issues.

"The impactful work we have seen from all award recipients this year is truly inspirational," said Laurie A. Van Egeren, interim associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement. "The collaborative efforts between university representatives and their partners in communities near and far has shown just how much can be accomplished when we work together to make a difference in our world."

This year marked the inaugural year of the Institutional Champion Award for Community-Engaged Scholarship. Recipients honored with this distinction have had a significant positive impact on the ability of others to engage with communities beyond campus, and, in doing so, have advanced the institutionalization of community-engaged scholarship and university outreach at Michigan State University.

Recipients of the 2022 awards include:

Gordon Henry, Jr., recipient of the Michigan State University Community Engagement Lifetime Achievement Award

Gordon Henry, Jr., recipient of the Michigan State University Community Engagement Lifetime Achievement Award

Michigan State University Community Engagement 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.

Gordon Henry, Jr., College of Arts and Letters

Dr. Gordon Henry, Jr., is an accomplished poet, activist teacher-scholar, and registered citizen of the White Earth Anishinaabe Nation, as well as an award-winning creative scholar with an international reputation. Some of his greatest passions include highlighting Indigenous storytellers and preserving their cultural heritage through his co-edited book series with MSU Press, American Indian Studies Series. He has also co-edited the collection of North American Indigenous graphic literature, Not (Just) (An)other.

Henry collaborated with the Center for Regional Food Systems on a Tribal Agriculture and Natural Resources webinar series, worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on the Michigan Tribal Economic Forum, and co-created both a Native American Youth Summer Film Camp and the award-winning digital humanities storytelling project, Indigistory, which resulted in multiple community digital storytelling workshops, as well as programming for Indigenous people throughout the state of Michigan.

Henry organized and continues to serve on the Wewaawiindamojig (Indigenous Advisory Board) that has funded numerous Anishinaabe community language and culture events and initiatives.


Stephen Esquith, recipient of the Institutional Champion Award for Community-Engaged Scholarship

Stephen Esquith, recipient of the Institutional Champion Award for Community-Engaged Scholarship

Institutional Champion Award for Community Engaged Scholarship

This award is conferred upon one university leader, faculty member, team, or initiative for leadership in institutionalizing community-engaged scholarship and university outreach. It is jointly sponsored by the offices of the Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement and the Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Staff Development.

Stephen L. Esquith, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities

Dr. Stephen L. Esquith has dedicated his career to collaborative partnerships with community-based organizations, both locally and globally. He led University efforts to create and found the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH), which opened its doors in 2007 with the notion of students "living their learning" through community-engaged work at the forefront of its curriculum.

Today the College advances its work in community engagement around the values of sustained partnerships, radical reciprocity, and co-generated knowledge. Through Esquith's leadership and encouragement, the RCAH's community-engaged course requirements have evolved, as has the diversity of its partnerships.

Esquith has recently returned to the faculty where he plans to continue preparing students for rich lives of purpose and contribution by teaching RCAH courses on civic engagement and political theory.


Robin Lin Miller, recipient of the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Research

Robin Lin Miller, recipient of the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Research

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.

Advocacy and Other Community Tactics to Challenge Barriers to HIV Care for Gay and Bisexual Men and Transgender Women (Project ACT)
Robin Lin Miller, College of Social Science
MPact Global Action for Gay Men's Health and Rights

Dr. Robin Lin Miller began partnering with MPact, a civil-society organization (CSO), to dismantle barriers to HIV care for gay and bisexual men and transgender women.

Partnerships with LGBT-led CSOs in Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Ghana, and Jamaica led to systems for monitoring stigma and discrimination in the provision of HIV healthcare, routine healthcare worker sensitization efforts, and healthcare-community partnerships to improve access to HIV services. Project achievements include Jamaica's first submission on the state of transgender access to healthcare to the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Period Review, the establishment of national sensitivity training standards in the Dominican Republic, and expanded access to affirming HIV care in Ghana, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe.


Christina Boyles, recipient of the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity

Christina Boyles, recipient of the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity

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.

Archivo de Respuestas Emergencias de Puerto Rico (AREPR)
Christina Boyles, College of Arts and Letters
University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras
University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez
Digital Library of the Caribbean
El Puente–Enlace Latino de Acción Climática
Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico
JunteGente
Instituto Transdisciplinario de Investigación-Acción Social (ITIAS)
Operation Blessing

Dr. Christina Boyles and her community partners in Puerto Rico are working to develop a digital open-access repository of artifacts related to natural disasters including Hurricane María, the Guayanilla earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecting community members with the web development and metadata capabilities of MSU has allowed collected materials, like oral history interviews, to be assembled in a freely available site that highlights the innovative knowledge production of grassroots community organizations in Puerto Rico. Not only do these materials have the potential to save lives but are also imperative to developing future emergency protocols based on local knowledge and community action.


Joe Grimm, recipient of the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Teaching

Joe Grimm, recipient of the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Teaching

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.

Bias Busters Faith-Based Cultural Competence Guides: An Interfaith Publishing Alliance
Joe Grimm, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
InterFaith Council of Metropolitan Detroit

Joe Grimm and students from MSU's School of Journalism have worked with community partners to battle stereotypes, elevate understanding, and encourage conversations through a series of cultural competency guides titled, "Bias Busters." The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit has been a prominent leader in guiding the Bias Busters sub-series on religion as well as on racial and ethnic groups. The guides help student-authors learn about diversity, equity, and inclusion in Grimm's journalism course and are also a resourceful tool for businesses and organizations. To date, more than 7,000 guides have been sold, with more than 500 people being credited in the guides as collaborators.


Johannes Bauer and Keith Hampton, recipients of the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service

Johannes Bauer and Keith Hampton, recipients of the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service

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 directly address specific issues identified by individuals, organizations, industries, or communities

Critical Connections: Broadband Access, Student Learning Outcomes, and Community Development
Johannes Bauer, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
Keith Hampton, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
Merit Network, Inc.
Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District
Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District
St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency
Washtenaw County, Michigan
Southwest Michigan Planning Commission

Drs. Bauer and Hampton partnered with several local and state agencies to develop conceptual frameworks, methods, and tools to help overcome discrepancies in access to high-speed Internet for school-aged children living in rural parts of the state. They worked with partners to build reliable, spatially granular data, and maps of household connectivity while also developing a deeper understanding of implications of poor broadband access. The knowledge gained through these partnerships has improved the development and planning of remedial measures, and partners have been able to attract private investment and obtain public funding to bridge digital divides that affect thousands of households across Michigan.


Graduate Student Awards for Community Engagement Scholarship

Each year, Michigan State invites nominations for this award, which is conferred in recognition of exemplary community-engaged work by a graduate or graduate professional student. This year, three students were recognized for their projects:

Sharieka Botex, College of Arts and Letters
Shaping Society Through Scholarship and Action

Wilfredo Flores, College of Arts and Letters
Queering Medicine: Intake Form Guidance for Providers

Kayleigh Ward, College of Social Science
Reviving Community: Rebuilding Social Recovery in Rural Post-Disaster Japan

Three additional students who were nominated for this award were presented with commendations for the excellence of their community engagement scholarship, including:

Zoe Hansen, College of Natural Science
Girls Math and Science Day

Debra Lynn Miller, College of Social Science
Core Therapist Skills and Training Methods Supporting the Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices with Severe Emotionally Disturbed Children in Community Mental Health Settings: A Mixed Method Delphi Study

Ji Youn Shin, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
Exploring Experiential Knowledge and Assets of Family Caregivers


Spartan Volunteer Service Awards

The awards ceremony also celebrated students who received Student Volunteer Service Awards from the Center for Community Engaged Learning. These awards were bestowed on individuals who volunteered 100 or more hours over the course of one year, at an event in January with President Samuel L. Stanley. For 2020-2021, 76 students received an award, and at the MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony, four were recognized for having completed more than 650 hours of volunteer work:

Shanawar Lone, graduate law student, College of Law

Elizabeth Sachs, graduate law student, College of Law

Amir Tavakoli, senior physiology major, College of Natural Science

Alexandra Wallman, senior human biology major, College of Natural Science

By connecting university knowledge with partner/community knowledge, this year's award winners have actively demonstrated MSU’s unwavering commitment to collaborative, participatory, and transformative work.

  • Written by Emily Springer, University Outreach and Engagement
  • Photographs courtesy of Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Letters, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Social Science, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, University Outreach Engagement Awards Ceremony, and christina-boyles.com

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