2015-2016 News

Very Active Fall Semester at OCEP!

The biggest news this semester was that USF was named the "Most Engaged Campus" in Florida by the Florida Campus Compact. The FL|CC is comprised of over 50 college and university presidents who are committed to helping students develop the values and skills of active citizenship through participation in public and community service. USF was recognized for its leadership and commitment to public and community service with this prestigious award.


Here are the ways in which OCEP has provided leadership and support for community engaged activities on campus this fall:

We kicked off this semester's events with our biannual "Go Public!" workshop, in which media savvy USF faculty Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman and Daniel Lende shared their experiences and wisdom on getting research into the public domain and discourse in a meaningful way. Should you wish to watch some highlights from this event, click here.

On September 24th, OCEP participated in New Faculty Orientation, including a presentation by OCEP staff about our grant programs, our grants research and preparation assistance, and our University-Community Match Up events. Three USF faculty Milton Wendland (Department of Women's and Gender Studies), Kelly Werder (Mass Communications), and Rebecca Zarger (Anthropology), each of whom are exemplary in their application of community engagement in the classroom and their research provided their unique perspectives to the new USF faculty.

Wendland said of the event, "In a university as big as USF, it's important to be able to come together across disciplines and departments to share ideas for how service-learning fits our own courses but also the larger mission of USF. New Faculty Orientation is a way for me to share my experiences, my successes, and my missteps with other faculty who may be new to service-learning or who may be trying to incorporate service-learning into a new course. There's a lot of excitement about service-learning and a lot of potential across the USF campus."

Also on September 24th, Bonnie Silvestri and Research that Matters grant recipient Elizabeth Miller participated in a panel discussion about Breastfeeding and Working Mothers sponsored by Healthy Start Manatee, where Miller was able to share the early results of her research about the disparities in rates of breastfeeding among African-American women and how providers can address this important issue in the lives of mothers and babies.

USF was a major presence at the Hispanic Services Council annual breakfast to support one of our important community partners. At the event, Hillsborough County School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins stated that he was eager to work with community organizations and parents to achieve an "intentional educational pathway" for all of Hillsborough County's children. He continued, "The best parent engagement activity is sending home kids every day loving their experience that they are receiving at their school. Relationships are the key."

On October 21st, OCEP hosted one of its largest University-Community Match Up events in recent years at the Museum of Science and Industry. After brief presentations by OCEP staff, the group divided into three discussion tracks focusing on an overview of the work of OCEP, OCEP's sister office the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) that assists students in providing co-curricular service opportunities in the community, and Career Services Office that coordinates the internship program. Another track focused on best practices in service-learning, and a third looked at ways to effectively partner with community organizations. 

On October 15th, Jo Averill-Snell presented a very informative grant-writing workshop that was co-sponsored by the Graduate Student Applied Research Network ("GSARN"). Averill-Snell explained how to find grant funding and provided tips on effectively structuring a grant application. Among her most important advice is to find a compelling way to tell the story of your research to captivate grant proposal reviewers. She is available to assist faculty and graduate students with finding funding and reviewing applications as time allows, so don't hesitate to be in touch. She will offer this workshop again next semester.

USF was nominated for a Unity Award by Metropolitan Ministries, one of our important community partners for a group, which has embraced the heart of Metropolitan Ministries' calling through proactive service and support at an event on October 24th. All told, during the academic year 2014-2015, 1100 volunteers from USF donated 3,482 hours to the organization.


USF received the "Most Engaged Campus" award at the 2015 Florida Campus Compact Awards Gala.

In addition to being honored as the Most Engaged Campus at the Florida Campus Compact Annual Conference Gala, OCEP staff presented on a variety of topics at the conference. Jennifer Webb presented on the importance of collective impact projects in developing university–community partnerships, Jo Averill-Snell presented on the compilation of a comprehensive bibliography on community engaged scholarship. This will be available for all practitioners and faculty in all institutions nationwide who are seeking to deepen their understanding of the pedagogy of service-learning, the practice of community engaged research, and the development of effective and impactful university–community partnerships. Harold Keller presented about engagement across the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities, of which USF is a member. Finally, Bonnie Silvestri and Milton Wendland presented on effective strategies for e-service–learning (i.e., service-learning courses delivered through online learning platforms).

Also at the Florida Campus Compact gala, Bonnie Silvestri received the Graham-Frey Civic Award and Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman received the inaugural Special Award for Global Engagement. USF's award as Most Engaged Campus was the biggest award of the evening and is a true recognition of the work across the campus and throughout the community to support best practices in university–community partnerships.

USF was one of eight campuses nationwide to be selected to send a team to the Urban and Regional Partnerships for Civic Learning and Student Success Partnership Initiative, which took place in November. Ronnie McCullough of the G3 Life Applications Executive Team who works with young people and has been an important community partner with USF stated, "The event was very refreshing. I truly enjoyed being at a forum with so many individuals from all over the country with the same goal in mind! It was a very productive event in which everyone had a voice to assist with creating a solution to various issues/barriers our youth are facing."


USF team at the Urban Regional Partnerships for Civic Learning and Student Success Partnership Initiative

In November, USF faculty Dr. Maria Brea-Spahn of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Dr. Evangeline Linkous of the School of Public Affairs were each awarded the Provost's Outstanding Community Engaged Teaching Award. This award was founded by OCEP last year to honor faculty who have excelled in integrating community engagement into their coursework and research.