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UC Merced Selected for National Workgroup on Community Engaged Scholarship

May 19, 2008

MERCED - The University of California, Merced, was founded with
the commitment to apply its globally focused research to help meet
urgent regional needs related to education, poverty, medical care
shortages, population growth and air pollution. The campus’
teaching, research and public service activities aim to understand
and improve the conditions of the Central Valley.

This month, faculty and staff are joining an innovative national
effort to improve how universities ensure effective relationships
and positive impacts for the communities that they serve.

Two UC Merced faculty members, a staff member and a community
partner will attend a charrette, or collaborative planning session,
“Faculty for the Engaged Campus,” sponsored by the Community-Campus
Partnerships for Health from May 28 through 30 at the University of
North Carolina, Chapel Hill. This program is part of a larger
effort of the Department of Education to improve postsecondary
education. The Merced team will be part of a select national
workgroup advancing how institutes of higher education select,
prepare and support faculty teaching, research and public service
to be of greater value and impact to communities.

“UC Merced’s location in the Valley creates mutual benefits - a
resource for the community and a wealth of research questions for
our investigators,” said

UC Merced Vice Chancellor for Research Samuel J. Traina.
“Many
researchers find that the questions and problems faced by the local
region are the same problems faced globally, so that research aimed
at global issues also can have a local impact.”

More than 100 campuses applied to participate in the charrette.
UC Merced is one of only 20 chosen, and the only institution from
California that will be represented.

“This is an area where UC Merced will be distinguishing itself,”
said

Professor Robin DeLugan
of the
School of Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts.
“The charrette offers us an opportunity to
evaluate what we have and find out where we need to fill in gaps to
support and motivate community-engaged scholarship especially by
talking with other research institutions who are participating like
Northwestern, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the
University of Minnesota and the University of New Mexico.”

DeLugan will attend the charrette along with

Dean Maria Pallavicini
of the School of Natural Sciences;

Jorge Aguilar,
who serves as associate vice chancellor for
educational and community partnerships and special assistant to the
chancellor; and Stergios Roussos of the Community Partnership
Alliance in Merced.

“UC Merced’s participation in this faculty development project
for CES reflects and reinforces its commitment as a state and
national leader for how institutes of higher education benefit
communities,” Roussos said.

“The charrette will help us learn ways other leading
universities establish programs, policies and practices that
support how faculty engage communities’ needs and resources in
their daily work,” DeLugan said, “This will include ways to make
sure that research supporting our region is valued in the tenure
process, for example.”

DeLugan explained that Community Engaged Scholarship (CES) is a
term used by educational leaders to define a new approach to how
institutes of higher education fulfill their objectives for
education, research and public service. Faculty training and
support are at the heart of CES; without faculty who can understand
and lead CES efforts, most universities are unable to be effective
CES institutions.

She noted that there are two important parts of connecting
faculty teaching and research with the community - making faculty
aware of the benefits of regionally-engaged scholarship, and making
community entities aware of the potential for working with a campus
like UC Merced when research expertise is needed. Roussos’ presence
as a community representative in the delegation is a key advantage
for UC Merced, she said - it will help ensure that UC Merced and
its prospective partners are addressing both sides of the awareness equation.

Towards that goal, DeLugan and Aguilar are also working with
CURAJ (Community-University Research & Action for Justice), an
initiative to foster collaborations of university research and
local community expertise to improve the well-being of the
disadvantaged populations in the Central Valley. After the May
charrette, they will be preparing for a fall CURAJ Action Summit
that will bring community organizations together to learn how to
draw on faculty research expertise.

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