Engaged service to the community is both an integral part of my research as well as an extension of who I am as a connected member of society. Many of my service activities are directed related to increasing access and success of students in postsecondary education, especially those that are historically-underrepresented. Just as with my classroom, the community engagement is a critical grounding element of my research. It also becomes a venue to disseminate my research findings.
I employ an engaged scholarship model that works in collaboration with community agencies and professional groups to solve issues related to student success. These groups serve both as my research partners and as locations for the research studies. Engaged scholarship requires a dynamic focus that changes through interactions between testing of hypothesizes and needs expressed by potential consumers of the scholarship. This requires not only my observation, but also serving as an active agent within the community.
Service to the Department of Postsecondary Teaching and Learning (PsTL)
Within my academic home here at the University I have been actively involved with the old General College and the new department that was formed through merger into the new College of Education and Human Development. I currently serve as an elected member of the Executive Committee of PsTL that advises the department head on policy matters, curriculum transformation, and strategic planning. A major role of mine has been co-chair of the Graduate Certificate Development Team.
Service to the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD)
Within CEHD I have served as a trainer for professional staff, parents, and students in the Upward Bound TRiO program. During the past year I served as departmental representative to the CEHD Committee on Instructional Technology which developed recommendations for policies and expenditures designed to increase effectiveness for office staff, faculty members, and an enriched learning environment for students. I have served a variety of role for the Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy including Faculty Advisor for Outreach Activities, Advisory Board Member, and columnist for the Center’s newsletter. I have been recently appointed to the College’s Curriculum Council as a representative of my academic department for graduate curriculum issues.
Service to the University
Due to my previous experience as National Director of the Center for Supplemental Instruction (SI) based at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, I have been actively involved with the SMART Learning Commons team. I have adapted the SI program for use here at the University to serve students in biology, chemistry, and mathematics courses to increase their academic achievement and graduation rates. The campus name for this approach is Peer Assisted Learning (PAL). My roles with PAL have included: (a) training all PAL student paraprofessional facilitators, (b) developing PAL training materials; (c) serving on the PAL management team, (d) creating new courses for professional development of the PAL facilitators, and (e) conducting research studies of the PAL program.
Service to the Local Community
There are several community and state organizations that I have been involved since arriving at the University. My longest working relationship is with the Association of Minnesota Community and Technical College Counselors which is composed of faculty counselors at the 40 institutions within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. For the past five years I have served as a consultant for their Student Retention Taskforce. We meet six times annually to discuss research-based practices for improving student persistence on their campuses. My roles with their group have included: (a) presenting keynote talks and co-managing their state conference, (b) conducting periodic training workshops on student retention, (c) assisting development of training materials, and (d) identifying the contribution of personal counseling services to improved student outcomes through research studies.
Another community group with which I have worked since arriving in Minnesota has been with the Twin Cities TRiO Association. This group is composed of the federally funded TRiO programs that are located in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. I conduct annual training workshops for their student paraprofessional staff. These individuals provide tutoring support for their grant-eligible students that are often first-generation college, economically-disadvantaged, and historically-underrepresented in postsecondary education. This venue has afforded early field testing of the PAL training materials mentioned in the earlier section of my service to the University community.
Service to the Profession
I have long provided service to the profession of college access at the state and national level. I was recognized for this service through selection as a Founding Fellow of the profession in 2000 by the American Council of Developmental Education Associations (ACDEA). This followed nearly two decades of elected service at the state and national level, including election as president of the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE). Current service projects include the following.
The ACDEA is composed of five national associations that represent the field of college access. This group selected me as chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) Taskforce to investigate strategic repositioning of all the major professional associations, including creation of a new national organization to subsume the existing ones. As a result of the BRC report, town hall meetings, and national presentations over a three-year time period, the two largest organizations have moved into discussions to create a new organization. I was selected as chair of a working group investigating this opportunity. During summer 2007 I convened a group of former national presidents and leaders to analyze the opportunity. The product of our labor was a 60-page report that provides a model for a 21st century approach to college access that employs an expanded and transformed mission, vision, and language. I served as editor and major contributor to this report. The two organizations are presently studying the report findings and considering the next stages for action.
My involvement with the previously described service activities has been based upon my long involvement with the profession and the organizations that represent this field. I have been the most involved with the National Association for Developmental Education with service roles as national president, chapter president, strategic planning task force, professional standards, to name a few. I have been an advisory board member for the National Center for Developmental Education for nearly a decade. I have served on the editorial board for the major publications in this professional field: CRDEUL Annual Monograph Series, Journal of Developmental Education, Journal of Teaching and Learning, and The Learning Assistance Review.
As a faculty member, I embrace the three worlds that I operate within: teaching, research, and service. Each one is essential for the proper functioning of the other two. My service activities are essential for grounding of my research in real-world problems and to provoke new ideas for inclusion in my teaching.