2019 MSU Awards Honor Outstanding University-Community Collaborations

The annual Michigan State University Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony was held on February 20, 2019 at the Kellogg Center, with an audience that included award recipients and their families, community partners, deans, colleagues, and students.

The awards program was established by University Outreach and Engagement in 2005 with the Community Engagement Scholarship Award (CESA), formerly known as the Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award. A full list of past award recipients is available on the web at engage.msu.edu.

From left to right: Laurie Van Egeren, Michael J. Boivin, Esperance Kashala-Abotnes, and Adrian Blow

MSU Community Engagement Scholarship Award (CESA)

The CESA recognizes exemplary engaged scholarship with a community partner. One scholar and her/his partner(s) share a stipend of $5,000.

MSU and INRB against Konzo Disease: A Global Partnership to Protect African Children from Toxic Food

  • Michael J. Boivin, College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale

More than a decade ago, MSU psychiatry professor Michael Boivin and his colleagues at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) formed a partnership to eradicate konzo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Konzo disease, a sudden-onset permanent paralysis of the legs, results from eating cyanide in improperly prepared bitter cassava root, a staple food source for 600 million people worldwide. The cyanide damages nerves that control voluntary leg movement. Tragically, young women and children are most vulnerable.

The partnership has produced landmark scientific papers and presentations worldwide, and trains students and researchers from Africa and North America. It continues to expand neuroscience research capacity in DR Congo by building upon this multidisciplinary, cross-cultural, international framework.

Distinguished Partnership Awards

The Distinguished Partnership Awards (DPAs) comprise University-wide recognitions for highly engaged and scholarly community-based work that positively impacts both the community and scholarship. Nominations for these awards are invited annually in the categories of Research, Creative Activities, Teaching, and Service. Each award is jointly conferred on a faculty recipient and her/his community partner(s), and comes with a shared stipend of $1,500. The DPA recipients are also finalists for the CESA.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Research

MSU and INRB against Konzo Disease: A Global Partnership to Protect African Children from Toxic Food

  • Michael J. Boivin, College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale

This partnership won MSU's 2019 Community Engagement Scholarship Award. See description above.

From left to right: Laurie Van Egeren, Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Renee Wallace, and Sonya Gunnings-Moton

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Teaching

Community Engagement and Participatory Modeling of Urban Food Systems

  • Laura Schmitt Olabisi, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • FoodPLUS Detroit

Beginning in 2014, Schmitt Olabisi and Renee Wallace of FoodPLUS Detroit established a community process for soliciting information on a proposed urban livestock ordinance in the city. Their vision was to improve understanding of food systems in Detroit, and community partners were key participants in all stages of the project.

It was a catalyst for a $2 million grant for a four-year project that aims to use community-based participatory modeling to analyze the food system in Flint, inspire collaborative relationships, and gain a better understanding of urban food systems.

From left to right: Laurie Van Egeren, Kelly Salchow MacArthur, Danielle Conroyd, and Jeff Dwyer

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service

The Resilient Monroe Green Map Initiative

  • Kelly Salchow MacArthur, College of Arts and Letters
  • River Raisin Institute, Monroe, Michigan

The River Raisin Institute (RRI) of Monroe, Michigan, is a small nonprofit that works to improve environmental, social, and economic health and well-being locally and globally. MSU associate professor of graphic design Kelly Salchow MacArthur has focused her creative research on environmental issues for over a decade. In 2016, RRI and Salchow began a partnership to educate the Monroe community in green practices, sustainable resources, and environmental stewardship.

The result was the Resilient Monroe Green Map initiative. Utilizing local food accessibility data collected by the Monroe County Health Department, they developed an extensive system to introduce green mapping—the practice of locating and plotting green living, natural, and cultural resources in an area. In this case, they focused on fresh, local food resources. More than 2,000 community members have been reached through large, interactive community maps displayed at three local libraries.

2019 Spartan Volunteer Service Awards

From left to right: K.C. Keyton, Sujit Bajaj, Malik Mix, Lauren Caramagno, Laurie A. Van Egeren

A presidential recognition, this award celebrates MSU students' commitment to service-learning and community engagement and is given to students who volunteer 100 hours or more in one year. All of the student volunteers were recognized at MSU's Martin Luther King Jr. Dinner in January, and this year the Office of the Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement additionally honored the five students with the greatest number of volunteer hours recorded during the academic year. They are:

  • Sujit Bajaj, College of Natural Science
  • Lauren Marie Caramagno, College of Natural Science
  • Malik Amir Lee Mix, Eli Broad College of Business
  • Samantha Paige Perovski, College of Natural Science
  • Brooklyn Taylor Rue, College of Arts and Letters

See the full list

Community Engagement Scholarship Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes 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 individual's extraordinary accomplishments are sustained over the span of a career.

Carl S. Taylor

"I've had enough experience with being pessimistic to know that is not the answer."

Carl S. Taylor

Carl S. Taylor
College of Social Science

Carl Taylor's extensive field research in Detroit and other hard-hit Michigan cities has earned him a national reputation as a leading expert on American youth culture, gangs, and violence. His multidisciplinary approach as an ethnographer, ecologist, and criminologist led him to become an advocate for investing in human capital, especially with regard to strengthening a community's relationship with its youth.

He spent thousands of his own dollars and six years living in an inner-Detroit neighborhood, following two violent street gangs. The result was a ground-breaking book, Dangerous Society (1989)1. One unexpected finding of this research was the extent to which the young gangsters had become sophisticated entrepreneurs with corporate-style organizations in the drug business. A later book, Girls, Gangs, Women and Drugs (1993)2, documented the rising numbers of young women who were getting involved with these activities. In 2013, "The Attraction of Gangs: How Can We Reduce It?" (co-authored with Pamela R. Smith) appeared in the joint National Institute of Justice/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publication, Changing Course: Preventing Gang Membership3.

Despite sometimes grim statistics, a central theme in Taylor's research, teaching, and advocacy is hope. He grew up in Detroit, witnessed the city's fall from prominence, and hopes to see it rise again, this time in a way that benefits all Detroiters.

Taylor is a University Outreach and Engagement University-Community Senior Fellow. He received the MSU College of Social Science Alumni Association Outstanding Teaching Award in 2015. He also received the Department of Sociology Excellence-in-Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2013, 2014, and 2017. Taylor has worked with such organizations as the Guggenheim Foundation, the C. S. Mott Foundation, the FBI Academy, and the Children's Defense Fund. He also served on the Michigan Juvenile Justice Committee for more than ten years and advises various projects concerning youth throughout America.


  1. Taylor, C. S. (1989). Dangerous Society. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. Back to article
  2. Taylor, C. S. (1993). Girls, Gangs, Women and Drugs. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. Back to article
  3. Taylor, C. S., & Smith, P. R. (2013). The attraction of gangs: How can we reduce it? In T. R. Simon, N. M. Ritter, & R. R. Mahendra (Eds.), Changing course: Preventing gang membership (pp. 19-29). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. Back to article

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