2014-2015 News

OCEP awarded 2015 Diversity award

The Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships received the distinction of the University of South Florida 2015 Diversity Award for a Department.

We were delighted to have been nominated by Outstanding Engaged Teaching Award and fellow Diversity Award recipient Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, whose work exemplifies high impact community engaged scholarship.

2015 diversity award

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Harold Keller, Bonnie Silvestri, Jennifer Webb, and Lance Arney at the 2015 Diversity Summit

She said, "It gives me great pleasure to nominate OCEP for the 2015 USF Diversity Award. OCEP is distinguished for its ability to implement a specific mission designed to promote innovative research, teaching, and service that empowers disadvantaged populations, both globally and locally. Because of its ability to promote deep interdisciplinary engagement that has a positive impact on racially and socioeconomically diverse communities, I am convinced that there is no other office on campus more deserving of this award."

Hordge-Freeman highlighted OCEP's workshops, consultations, and management of grants to promote community-engaged teaching/learning and community-engaged research addressing issues relating to diversity and disenfranchised groups. She continued, "Providing generous grants and support services to faculty and students, they have been effective at using their limited resources to fund innovative diversity-related projects." She also noted that by requiring an evaluative component, OCEP is able to ensure that communities' needs are served by measuring the impact of the community-engaged work.

Among notable accomplishments in 2015 was the awarding of Faculty-Community Partnership Research that Matters grants for projects ranging from the dietary issues among Burmese refugees (Dr. Roberta Baer); Feeding America Tampa Bay's School Back Pack Program (Dr. David Himmelgreen); Breastfeeding education among African American women (Dr. Elizabeth Miller); and Cultural Heritage in Brazil (Dr. Christian Wells). Because these grants make an impact locally and globally, they are directly tied to USF's Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) focusing on Global Citizenship.

Also significant were the Service-Learning High Impact Practice grants given to faculty teaching classes on topics ranging from Afro-Brazilian Culture and Society to Food Deserts and Food Insecurity, which disproportionately impacts communities of color to, Grant Writing for Non-Profit Organizations serving impoverished organizations.

Finally, Hordge-Freeman noted OCEP's Poverty Forums and the recent two-day lecture and workshop series by renowned expert Paul Gorski on equity literacy, co-sponsored with the Office of Diversity Inclusion and Equal Opportunity and the United Way, among other major organizations on campus, which was designed to address issues of poverty and equity by looking at structural inequities. She said, "These synergistic activities reflect ways that OCEP programs and curriculum enjoy continuity in order to maximize their positive impact on racially and socioeconomically diverse communities."

Finally, she noted "As an African American junior faculty at USF and recipient of the inaugural Outstanding Community Engaged Teaching Award and the 2014 Diversity Summit Faculty Award, I feel honored that my own work on diversity and racial minorities in Brazil has been advanced by my collaboration with OCEP."

She continued, "The work of OCEP is emblematic of what is possible when offices take seriously the importance of diversity and inclusion on campus."

As OCEP Interim Director Harold Keller stated, ""This award is truly an honor to us, as we focus daily on our USF strategic priorities, facilitating student success, research and innovation, and engagement with our communities both locally and globally via experiential learning (service-learning) and community engaged research, all done within culturally diverse and complex settings."