Four at SUU Awarded for Civic Engagement

Published: April 13, 2009 | Read Time: 4 minutes

Four members of the Southern Utah University community have been selected to receive awards from the Utah Campus Compact (UCC) at its annual statewide recognition event. The awards were presented at Salt Lake County's Clark Planetarium on April 7. 

These annual awards recognize the work of outstanding faculty, staff, students, and community partners at Utah's higher education institutions on a statewide level. 

The UCC's vision is a future in which Utah’s colleges and universities collaborate with engaged citizens throughout the state to address the needs of diverse communities. SUU had four separate recipients within the UCC awards, in the categories of Civically Engaged Scholar, Civically Engaged Staff Member, Civically Engaged Student and Committed Community Partner. 

Dr. Briget Eastep, assistant professor of outdoor recreation, physical education and human performance at SUU was awarded the Civically Engaged Scholar. She was hired at SUU in 2006 and works with campus and community partners to broaden opportunities in service learning and experiential education. 

Eastep has served on the University's Service Learning Committee and as chair on the steering committee instrumental in creating the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative whose purpose is to manage a regional internship and service learning program here at SUU. Her work in developing upper‐level classes, such as Natural Resource Interpretation and Experiential Education, is groundbreaking for the University. Eastep encourages her students to contribute to the “community of land stewardship,” the professionals and citizens who strive to conserve and preserve the ecological integrity of natural environments. 

Of the honor and her commitment to service learning, Eastep said, “I believe in learning by doing. I strive to offer educational opportunities that connect my students to their community, the natural world, and their future careers.” 

Pam Branin, coordinator of SUU's Service & Learning Center, received the Civically Engaged Staff Member award. Branin organizes all aspects of the Service & Learning Center, which is at the core of the University’s mission and values, providing opportunities for students to “develop as scholars and citizens,” and to engage in pragmatic educational experiences that demonstrate “the responsibility one has toward others.” Under Branin's tutelage students gain involvement and leadership opportunities, "hands on" learning experiences, community partnerships and goodwill, and fidelity to the University mission. 

Branin's recent accomplishments include advising successful alternative break trips that include service in Mexico and with Habitat for Humanity; developing senior citizen outreach programs; coordinating the University's “Bread and Soup Nite” and other activities to focus on hunger issues; organizing “All Fired Up,” a one-day, 1,300 student strong community service day; and presenting papers at professional conferences. Of her work, Branin said, “I love what I do because I work with students who share vision and passion. I see students make a difference in others’ lives, along with their own, and the benefits extend deeply into our campus and communities.” 

The Civically Engaged Student award went to Lacie Jo Robinson, a senior secondary education major from Kanab, Utah. 

Robinson has been involved with the Service & Learning Center’s-sponsored service programs for the last three years. She initially got involved as a volunteer within SUU’s Alternative Spring Break program; that experience inspired Robinson to get more involved through community service. She later was appointed as a trip leader for the following year’s Alternative Spring Break program. In the 2008-09 school year, Robinson has served as the service center vice president, and then president, and the student representative on the campus Service-Learning Committee. 

For Robinson, “Service is more than just a hobby but a way of life. Serving those around me brings a joy that cannot be replaced by anything else in the world. Some of my best learning experiences as a student have happened through service.” 

The UCC’s Committed Community Partner award was given to Paul Roelandt, superintendent of Cedar Breaks National Monument. 

Roelandt has opened the doors to regional national parks in the area to SUU students and faculty. He has spearheaded, through internal NPS grants, many successful service‐learning initiatives at SUU, including the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, support for the Cedar Mountain Science Camp, Wayside Exhibits, and GPS Ranger. His consistent over the past three years have brought funding and regional partners together to create service‐learning and internship opportunities for more than one-hundred students at SUU. Roelandt has also spearheaded regional recycling efforts that extend from national parks and monuments into a number of local communities. 

Said Roelant, “I am excited to work with National Parks Service colleagues and Southern Utah University to provide excellent educational and experiential opportunities for SUU students. We are committed to enhancing the economic, technological, and cultural development of the communities we serve.” 

The chair of the UCC selection committee for SUU was Dr. Earl Mulderink, professor of history and sociology, who said, “These four honorees are certainly deserving of additional recognition on campus and within our region.”

Of SUU's history and commitment to the statewide project, he added, "Southern Utah University has worked closely with the UCC since its founding more than a decade ago. The UCC is unique in that all higher education institutions in the state are signatories to the original compact established by college and university presidents. In addition to our obligatory advisory role, SUU has hosted or cosponsored UCC gatherings and we routinely join with colleagues across the state in promoting and developing service-learning programs and other forms of civic engagement."

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