Recognition of Outstanding University-Community Collaborations

Michigan State University established university-wide recognitions of community engagement in 2005 with the creation of the Community Engagement Scholarship Award, formerly known as the Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award. Since then, University Outreach and Engagement (UOE) has introduced additional awards that are conferred at the annual MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony. The exemplary projects and collaborations recognized through these awards programs represent the powerful impacts of University faculty, staff, and students working together with community partners to address societal concerns.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting scheduling adjustments, the 2020 and 2021 awards are featured in this issue of The Engaged Scholar Magazine.

View a full list of past award recipients

Community Engagement Scholarship Award (CESA)

The Community Engagement Scholarship Award (CESA) recognizes exemplary engaged scholarship with a community partner. MSU scholars and their partners share a stipend of $5,000.

2021 Recipient

Anti-Racist English Language Teaching and Scholarship

  • April Baker-Bell, College of Arts and Letters
  • Denby High School

In 2008, Dr. April Baker-Bell initiated and sustains a community-university partnership between the MSU English teacher education program and a network of high school English teachers and students in Detroit. For the past three years, Baker-Bell has worked with Mimi Henderson-Hudson and the students in her senior English class at Denby High School on the THUG Collaborative, an acronym for the novel and film The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. The project involves developing and refining anti-racist approaches to the teaching of Black language in partnership with classroom teachers and Black students.

2020 Recipient

Menominee Sustainable Development Institute Partnership

  • Kyle Powys Whyte, College of Arts and Letters and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Natural Resources Sustainable Development Institute, College of Menominee Nation

Kyle Whyte collaborates with Chris Caldwell of the Menominee Sustainable Development Institute on a partnership that seeks to support Indigenous peoples' preparedness for climate change through a diverse portfolio of research, outreach, and education projects. These projects include the development of Indigenous-based scenario planning for climate change, peer reviewed publications in major journals on the ethics of collaboration between Tribes and scientists, conferences hosted by SDI that build dialogue toward cooperative climate change planning, and educational events that inspire Indigenous students toward leadership in their own Tribal communities.

Noteworthy Nominations

Extraordinarily competitive nominations for the Community Engagement Scholarship Award are submitted each year that address the critical needs of communities and the individuals in those communities. The following partnerships were nominated in 2021, reflecting work that is making a positive difference in communities near and far.

  • Sustainable Community Development in Tanzania. Jonathan Choti, College of Arts and Letters, with Naitolia Village, Monduli, Tanzania
  • A Partnership of Service. Robert Kolt, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, with the Michigan Community Service Commission
  • Kinawa Middle School MathCircle. Rajesh Kulkarni, College of Natural Science, with Kinawa Middle School, Okemos, Michigan
  • Youth Voices Project. Joanne Marciano, College of Education, with Edgewood Village Housing Nonprofit, East Lansing, Michigan
  • Designing Safe Neighborhoods: Co-Creating Crime Prevention Policies with Communities. Linda Nubani, Holly Madill, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Harmony Fierke-Gmazel, MSU Extension, with the cities of Adrian, Albion, Howell, and Lansing, Michigan
  • Documenting the Effects of the Water Crisis on Women in Flint: A Community-Engaged Photo Voice Project. Lucero Radonic, College of Social Science, with the Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center - Community Core, Flint, Michigan
  • Early Childhood Music with Grow Up Great. Karen Salvador, College of Music, with Capital Area Community Services Early Head Start, Early On Ingham County, and the Capital Area District Libraries - Downtown Branch, Ingham County, Michigan
  • Local Government Finance and Policy Partnership with the City of Flint. Eric Anthony Scorsone, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and MSU Extension, with the City of Flint, Michigan
  • Enhanced Digital Learning Initiative. Scott Schopieray, College of Arts and Letters, and Jeremy Van Hof, Eli Broad College of Business, with the Okemos Public Schools, Okemos, Michigan

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. Recipients are selected in each of these categories from among all nominees for the Michigan State University Community Engagement Scholarship Award, for which they are also named as finalists. The awards are jointly conferred on faculty recipients and their community partners and come with a shared stipend of $1,500.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity

2021 Recipient

Anti-Racist English Language Teaching and Scholarship

  • April Baker-Bell, College of Arts and Letters
  • Denby High School

This partnership won MSU's 2021 Community Engagement Scholarship Award. See previous description above.

2020 Recipient

Sense-Ability Ensemble: Creating Innovative, Multi-Sensory, Interactive Theatrical Performance for Neurodiverse Audiences

  • Dionne O'Dell, College of Arts and Letters
  • 4th Wall Theatre Company

Dionne O'Dell and the student-led Sense-Ability Ensemble partner with 4th Wall Theatre Company to offer a ten-week theatre residency program to neurodiverse students, including those with autism spectrum disorders, which culminates in a final performance for friends and family. The collaboration has expanded to include a modified residency program in Genesee County as part of the Imagine Flint program and has developed two world premiere productions that tour special education classrooms around Michigan: Farm! A Musical Experience and Soda Pop Shop, which contribute to a wider understanding of the arts, health, and social/emotional well-being.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Teaching

2021 Recipient

Equine Welfare in Practice: Clinical Clerkship for 3rd and 4th Year College of Veterinary Medicine Professional Students

  • Harold C. Schott II, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Universidad Veracruzana

Since 2017, Dr. Schott has led three-week clinical clerkships for 3rd and 4th year College of Veterinary Medicine professional students in partnership with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Dr. Hernandez Gil) and Universidad Veracruzana (Dr. Estrada Taylor). The program begins with an intensive two-week clerkship in Mexico City, followed by 10 days traveling to rural communities to provide veterinary care to working equids, essential economic assets of impoverished Mexican families. Students spend the final week back at MSU completing medical records and preparing a seminar.

2020 Recipient

Teacher Leadership Development for Great Lakes Watershed Stewardship: The GRAND Learning Network and Annie's BIG Nature Lesson

  • Shari L. Dann, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Annie's BIG Nature Lesson

Since 2007, the GRAND Learning Network and Annie's BIG Nature Lesson partnership has offered teacher leadership professional development on the topics of Great Lakes watersheds, community, sense of place, and stewardship to more than 447 teachers, who then worked with local communities on watershed stewardship. The partnership has produced numerous peer-reviewed articles, case studies generated by teachers, a PBS-aired video, presentations at environmental education conferences, an invited policy article for the Governor's State of the Great Lakes report, and best-practice guides co-developed with other institutional leaders throughout the state.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service

2021 Recipient

Racial Justice and the Administration of the Death Penalty

  • Catherine M. Grosso and Barbara O'Brien, College of Law
  • Center for Death Penalty Litigation

In response to the passage of the North Carolina Racial Justice Act in 2009 (RJA), the Center for Death Penalty Litigation (with Gretchen M. Engel), a nonprofit law firm that serves indigent capital defendants in North Carolina, invited Catherine Grosso and Barbara O'Brien to design and conduct two studies—a jury selection study and a capital charging and sentencing study. Their completed research, presented as evidence in North Carolina RJA hearings and published in two law review articles, garnered national attention, and eventually led to the removal of defendants from death row. Their ongoing research supports the trial bar in North Carolina and informs jury selection reforms in Washington and California.

2020 Recipient

Spartan Project SEARCH

  • Connie Sung and Marisa Fisher, College of Education
  • Michigan Rehabilitation Services
  • Ingham Intermediate School District

In 2016, Connie Sung and Marisa Fisher, in collaboration with Ingham ISD and vocational rehabilitation agencies, initiated Spartan Project SEARCH at MSU, a program that helps transition-aged youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) overcome some of the obstacles and anxiety often experienced during the transition to adulthood. To date, Spartan Project SEARCH has provided internship and employment opportunities to over 25 individuals with IDD. The program also involves undergraduate students in a peer mentoring program, provides disability awareness training to units across campus, and provides clinical and research training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Research

2021 Recipient

Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Potter Park Zoo Animal Health Program: A Half-Century of Collaboration in Animal Health Education, Research, and Outreach

  • Dalen W. Agnew, College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Potter Park Zoo

Since 1974, the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and Potter Park Zoo have collaborated around shared goals of animal health, veterinary and public education, and environmental conservation. Spearheaded by CVM's James Sikarskie and Dalen Agnew, and Potter Park Zoo's Drs. Harrison, Nofs, and Eustace, the program has offered clinical and advanced residency training of veterinary students, K-12 outreach, research, career advising, sharing of medical expertise, and joint participation in seminars, advisory boards, volunteer opportunities, and media communications. This relationship has resulted in MSU-trained zoo veterinarians and professionals distributed around the world and an exemplary zoo in the Greater Lansing Area.

2020 Recipient

Menominee Sustainable Development Institute Partnership

  • Kyle Powys Whyte, College of Arts and Letters and College of Agriculture
  • Natural Resources Sustainable Development Institute, College of Menominee Nation

This partnership won MSU's 2020 Community Engagement Scholarship Award. See previous description above.

Michigan State University Community Engagement Scholarship Lifetime Achievement Award

Recognizing individuals of outstanding sustained accomplishment in community-engaged scholarship through research, creative activity, teaching, and/or service and practice over the span of a career.

Hiram E. Fitzgerald Hiram E. Fitzgerald

Hiram E. Fitzgerald
University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, College of Social Science
Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement Emeritus

Hiram Fitzgerald's tireless dedication to community-engaged scholarship has advanced the University's reputation as a national and international leader in the scholarship of engagement. His major areas of funded research include the study of infant and family development in community contexts, the impact of fathers on early child development, implementation of systemic community models of organizational process and change, the etiology of alcoholism, the digital divide and youth use of technologies, and the scholarship of engagement.

He has published over 237 peer-reviewed journal articles, 96 chapters, 77 books, 147 peer-revised abstracts and 19 technical reports, and served as editor-in-chief of the Infant Mental Health Journal and associate editor of Child Development, the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, and Perspectives on Infant Mental Health. Currently, he is associate editor of Adversity and Resilience Science: Research and Practice.

He is past president and executive director of both the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health and the International Association for Infant Mental Health, and for 16 years served as executive director of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.

Professor Fitzgerald has received numerous awards, including the ZERO TO THREE Dolley Madison Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to the Development and Well Being of Very Young Children, the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health Selma Fraiberg Award, and the designation of Honorary President from the World Association for Infant Mental Health. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association of Psychological Science, and is an elected member of the Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship and the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

Spartan Volunteer Service Awards

A presidential recognition, this award celebrates MSU students' commitment to community-engaged learning and is given to students who volunteer 100 hours or more in one year. Of the 82 students who received the award in 2021 and the 128 students who received the award in 2020, the following students were recognized for having volunteered the most hours each year.

2021 Recipients

  • Mary Farmer, Lyman Briggs College
  • Anusha Mamidipaka, Lyman Briggs College and College of Social Science
  • Christa Schafer, College of Human Medicine
  • Erika Shiino, College of Natural Science and Honors College
  • Leigh Anne Tiffany, College of Communication Arts and Sciences
  • Michelle Zorine, College of Natural Science

2020 Recipients

  • Justice K. Bass, College of Social Science
  • Sydnie A. Burch, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Nick Piner, Lyman Briggs College
  • Kiersten E. Walsworth, Lyman Briggs College

Graduate Student Award for Community Engagement Scholarship

Recognizing a graduate or graduate professional student for outstanding community-engaged scholarship.

2021 Recipient

Mary K. Kitzmiller, College of Social Science
Juvenile Risk Assessment: Reducing Recidivism and Improving Service Delivery for Justice-Involved Youth in Michigan

In May 2018, Kitzmiller began partnering with the Ingham County 30th Circuit Court as project manager of the Juvenile Risk Assessment Team (JRAT). Her research focuses on growing grassroots support for the integration of evidence-based practices in the evaluation and treatment of justice-involved youth. Kitzmiller works with a team of juvenile court managers, data analysts, clinicians, and MSU students and faculty to provide training, technical assistance, and quality assurance to the juvenile division of the Court. The work with JRAT has led to significant change in the evaluation and treatment of justice-involved youth, both within Ingham County and in court jurisdictions across Michigan.

Commendations for Excellence in Community Engagement Scholarship

  • Shavonna Green, College of Social Science, for Criminal Justice Reform: Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration
  • Will Langford, College of Education, for Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition
  • Ellie Small and Justin Abadejos, College of Osteopathic Medicine, for Detroit Street Care

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