Spartans honored for making difference in community

Posted at 9:24 AM, Mar 09, 2017

Six Michigan State University faculty and staff members have received awards from University Outreach and Engagement for their work to improve and enrich the world around them.

Among the community-based projects, Spartan researchers helped develop a solution to Detroit’s problem of untested and unprocessed sexual-assault kits, created a playwright festival for high school students and spent 25 years attacking childhood obesity.

MSU bestowed the awards to faculty, staff and their community partners during the recent 2017 Outreach and Engagement awards ceremony.

“Community-engaged scholarship is at the heart of our land-grant tradition and is firmly embedded in our culture,” said President Lou Anna K. Simon. “The recipients honored provide outstanding examples of the work than can be accomplished with a community-engaged approach and a collaborative spirit.”

University Outreach and Engagement, or UOE, established the awards to recognize engaged and scholarly community-based research, creative activity, teaching and service collaborations that make a difference.

“MSU has the most extensive academic support structure designed to advance engaged scholarship in the nation,” said Hiram E. Fitzgerald, associate provost for UOE. “We emphasize university-community partnerships that are collaborative, participatory, transformative and anchored in scholarship. The 2017 awards represent the best of those efforts.”

Here are the awardees:

Rebecca Campbell, professor of psychology, won the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Research for the Detroit Sexual Assault Kit Action Research Project. Community partners included Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board, Michigan State Police and Wayne County SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners).

More about the project: After the 2009 discovery of some 11,000 unprocessed and untested sexual assault kits in a police property storage facility in Detroit, Campbell, along with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy and partners, worked together for five years to understand why so many kits were not tested. They developed comprehensive testing plans to ensure all rape kits were tested for DNA and created trauma-informed support programs for survivors as their cases were re-opened. Strategies and solutions developed in this project have been disseminated nationally to help other communities. This partnership also won MSU’s 2017 Community Engagement Scholarship Award.

Robert Roznowski, associate professor of theatre, won the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity for the Young Playwrights Festival, along with community partner, Williamston High School.

More about the project: The playwrights festival 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 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.

Mark Wyckoff, professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, won the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Teaching for the MIplace Partnership Initiative. Community partners included the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Michigan Municipal League

More about the project: MIplace was created in response to the need to revitalize Michigan’s downtowns. Through extensive place-making 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 about the importance of place-making and been instrumental in the planning and implementation of dozens of place-making projects through Michigan.

Jeffrey Dwyer, professor and director of MSU Extension, won the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service for the project, “Building a Statewide Research Network Based on Community Engagement.” Community partners included Mid-Michigan Health, Munson Medical Center and UP Health System-Marquette.

More about the project: 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 network supports community-engaged research and the development of collaborations. The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health and other sources.

Renee Leone, coordinator of the MSU Science Festival, won the Synergy Award for Exemplary Community Leadership in University-Community Partnerships.

More about her work: The first MSU Science Festival, held in April 2013, attracted more than 11,000 attendees across 10 days, offered more than 150 unique presentations and spanned the science spectrum from astronomy to zoology. With Leone’s leadership, the festival continues to develop each year and has more than doubled attendance and now includes activities around the state. It is supported by many businesses, nonprofits, MSU units and student volunteers.

Mildred Horodynski, professor of nursing, won the Michigan State University Community Engagement Scholarship Lifetime Achievement Award.

More about her work: For more than 25 years, Horodynski has directed her research towards reducing the risk of childhood obesity. She and colleagues have developed and implemented innovative, evidence-based, multi-faceted curricula that empower parents to utilize appropriate nutritional guidelines and feeding practices.

Read more about the awards here.