On Jan. 16, the Bennion Center, joined by President Ruth Watkins, unveiled a new digital display honoring community-engaged faculty. The selected university faculty members are passionate about ensuring community engagement in their teaching, research and scholarship. It was a simple ceremony but one that expressed the appreciation for those in attendance.
Excitement and mutual respect abounded as professors and Bennion center employees gathered before the ceremony to enjoy food and coffee and interact with each other. It seemed that not one person in the room was not interacting with someone else.
The ceremony began with Dean McGovern, executive director of the Bennion center, thanking everyone for coming and for the hard work that the engaged faculty has done. He introduced the covered screen mounted on the wall as the “the great wall,” causing a laugh. It will display all the public service performed by the engaged faculty throughout the years and will be run on a daily basis.
McGovern also introduced president Ruth Watkins and her “unwavering support for engaged faculty.” She talked about how these faculty members’ programs are “strengthening the university, ourselves, the community and the students.” She reminisced about Crimson View, which is where the event was held, and that coming here she enjoyed “looking at our award-winning faculty on the wall.” She added, “Over the years I have been here I have loved it even more as I have gotten to know you,” with ‘you’ referring to the professors being recognized.
After expressing her appreciation, Watkins and McGovern used oversized scissors to cut the ribbon covering the screen. The screen was turned on and applause sounded through the room as people watched their colleagues and friends appear with the details of their involvement and the years.
Even those who were not being honored specifically showed up to show their support for those involved. Amy Sibul, instructor and community engaged learning (CEL) affiliate in the biology department, stated that she was “here because I really value public service — I guess it is built into my DNA. I also think it is important the administration recognizes community engaged places like the kind the Bennion center offers.”
After the event, President Watkins said, “the faculty I recognize here are the superstars of our campus. They are researchers and scholars that are equally committed to the spreading of that research to better the community. We should celebrate people who do this work and want to do this work well.” Watkins also believes that CEL classes are important for the learning experience of students. “I talk to students in CEL classes and they are able to understand their assignments better because they are able to take what they learn in the classroom out into the real world.”
Jennifer Jones, a communication specialist for the Bennion Center, expressed her belief that it was important not just to recognize professors but also to raise awareness of CEL opportunities that are available. “Students should care because CEL classes are taught by some of the best professors on campus. The classes are engaging, thought-provoking and a great way to put what you learn in the classroom to work in the real world immediately.” For those looking to expand their knowledge and experience, students are able to sign up for classes with the CEL designation in the course catalog.