UAB to take stock of its service to the community

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BFBK Comm ENGIsabella Mak helps stock shelves in UAB's Blazer Kitchen, an on-campus food pantry for employees and students that opens March 6.Scores of UAB faculty, staff and students consistently contribute their time and energy to improve communities and help people live happier, healthier, more productive lives. There is real power in those numbers. But how much is not clear. And that could soon change.

“With 23,000 employees and more than 19,000 students, if UAB were a city it would be the eleventh largest in Alabama. So, when our people mobilize, we have a substantial impact, but we do not fully understand the scope of our capability and contributions to the community,” said Josh Carpenter, Ph.D., director of External Affairs in the Office of the President.

Carpenter is leading a task force that will, among other things, compile an inventory of UAB’s community engagement, which is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation and has repeatedly landed UAB on the President’s Community Service Honor Roll. The task force will be soliciting input online March 6-17 to learn how students, faculty, and staff engage in activity that is “meaningful and mutually beneficial collaboration that contributes to the public good.” This information will lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive, integrated strategy for outreach. 

The reason is twofold.

“We want to capture the depth and breadth of our efforts,” Carpenter said. “This survey will provide us with data to learn where, when, with whom and to what extent UAB is helping to move the needle on issues in our community and our world.”

“Equally important, it will aid us in our efforts to create a searchable database for us to explore community-engagement opportunities,” said Brandon Wolfe, assistant vice president in the Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion and member of the task force who helped develop the questionnaire. “This is critical because many students, faculty, and staff across campus share the same ideas but are unaware of who else is doing the work.

UAB will be conducting a community engagement inventory online March 6-17. Contributors will be selected randomly to receive InstaGift cards for use at local restaurants and breweries. Login with your BlazerID.

“I encourage everyone to fill out this community engagement inventory because it provides us with an opportunity for greater collaboration, and it shows us areas where we can build on our strengths,” Wolfe said.

The inventory can take 5-15 minutes to complete — depending on the activities of an individual — and a BlazerID is needed to access it. As a reward for their time, contributors will be selected randomly each weekday to receive $100 InstaGift cards they can use at local restaurants and breweries. Winners will be notified by email.

Deans, directors and department heads are encouraged to promote participation in their areas so that the most complete information can be obtained.

“We hope to be able to highlight more of the work on our campus and in the community so that we can better tell the story of UAB and its partners,” Carpenter said. 

In addition to Carpenter and Wolfe, members of the task force represent a variety of areas throughout campus:

  • Shauntice Allen, Ph.D., Public Health
  • Amy Badham, Service Learning
  • Andrew Baer, History/College of Arts and Sciences
  • Kristin Boggs, School of Medicine
  • Joy Deupree, Ph.D., School of Nursing
  • Caroline Harada, M.D., School of Medicine
  • Lisa Higginbotham, UAB Benevolent Fund
  • Anthony Hood, Ph.D., School of Business
  • Jennifer Griffin, Student Involvement
  • Linda Gunter, University Relations
  • Bob Kleinstein, D.O., Ph.D., School of Optometry
  • Michael Liptrot, Undergraduate Student Government Association
  • Tracy Lyons, Retention Initiatives
  • Maria Norena, Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center
  • Tina Kempin Reuter, Ph.D., Institute for Human Rights
  • Haley Kendrick, Graduate Student Government Association
  • Lourdes Sanchez-Lopez, Ph.D., Foreign Languages/College of Arts and Sciences
  • Susan Spezzini, Ph.D., School of Education
  • Sheikilya Thomas, CHAAMPS/ School of Medicine
  • Jeff Walker, Ph.D., Justice Sciences/College of Arts and Sciences
  • Michael Wyss, Ph.D., CORD