Awards honor UNI’s civic engagement

UNI NEWS SERVICES – Two University of Northern Iowa community engagement projects will be awarded with Engaged Campus Awards this month in recognition of their civic contributions to students and communities.

The awards will be presented at the Iowa Campus Compact’s annual Awards and Summit on Monday, April 29 at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens. The organization selected UNI's partnership with EMBARC as the Community Partnership Award winner and #PanthersVote as the Emerging Innovation Award winner.

In addition, Associate Professor Julianne Gassman was a finalist for the Civic Mission Leadership award.

“On our campus, our work is about much more than preparing students for their professions,” said UNI President Mark A. Nook. “We are also responsible for preparing students as active and engaged citizens who understand their responsibility in making their communities better places to live, to work, and to learn. We do this through service learning projects, community engagement, experiential learning and student organizations. We do it working closely with community partners. As a result of these efforts, students become engaged in the adaptive challenges of their communities and work with others to build understanding and bridge differences.”

EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center) aims to help refugees expand their world of possibilities through advocacy, education and community development. 

Linguistic and culturally appropriate services are scarce for the approximately 3,000 minority refugees of Burma in Waterloo, and EMBARC’s goal is to shape effective student leaders in the community.

The campus-community partnership developed through two required professional development courses in the Department of Philosophy and World Religions taught by Cara Burnidge, assistant professor of religion and Yasemin Sari, assistant professor of philosophy. 

#Panthersvote is an initiative to promote student voting that, preliminary turnout figures suggest,  helped UNI more than double its turnout for the 2018 midterm elections when compared to the midterm elections of 2014.

The group has a multiprong strategy, including coordinating a variety of organizations under the #panthersvote brand, and using this common brand to get students registered to vote. The effort was driven by voter drives, community presentations, social media campaigns and classroom visits.

Julianne Gassman is the director of Community Engagement at the University of Northern Iowa, an associate professor in the Department of Health, Recreation and Community Services, and the Campus Executive Director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. She teaches in the area of nonprofit management and is the author/co-author of numerous books and publications. Her research interests include service-learning, community engagement, nonprofit management and student debt.


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