Faculty and staff in the College of Education & Human Development are among the recipients of the 2017 Carl V. Patton President’s Awards for Community Service.
These annual awards give Georgia State University the opportunity to recognize students, student organizations, faculty, staff and community partners for demonstrating “the university’s philosophy and commitment to developing positive connections with our community to gain a better understanding of civic responsibility,” according to the Patton Awards website.
Brian Williams, director of the college’s Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence, has been named the Outstanding Faculty Award recipient, and the administrative staff in the Department of Kinesiology and Health have been named the Outstanding University Program recipients.
In a meeting with some of his former colleagues, Brian Williams stood up and made the case that community members and organizations should want to partner with universities around science education.
Moments later, Pam Duncan from the Children’s Museum of Atlanta said she and her staff were ready and open to establishing a relationship with Georgia State.
“She called me out,” he said of the exchange, which sparked a now 10-year partnership with the museum.
Williams volunteers there at least 20 weeks a year, conducting science experiments and getting local children excited about science. Most recently, he worked with TEAM AmeriCorps members from the Crim Center to host Superhero Science Night at the museum as part of the National Science Week celebrations.
His work at the museum only scratches the surface of Williams’s service in the community. He hosts a free science summer camp every year for local elementary school students, has helped M. Agnes Jones Elementary become the first STEM-certified school in Georgia and is an active member of the Westside Communities Alliance at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.
“As community scholars, we have a responsibility to take what we do at the university and bring it to the community,” he said. “My goal is to level the playing field and reach students and organizations who don’t have the big grants and budgets to support STEM education. They should have a seat at the table.”
Administrative Staff, Department of Kinesiology and Health
In 2013, the administrative staff in the Department of Kinesiology and Health held a retreat to encourage team building among employees working together every day.
It was during this retreat that they decided to make service to the metro-Atlanta community a priority moving forward.
“When the team presented the idea of volunteering to me, I gave them my blessing,” said Professor Jacalyn Lund, who was department chair at the time. “I had an idea that this was not going to be a one-time venture, despite what they told me. Knowing the dedication and empathy for others that this team demonstrates on a day-to-day basis, I suspected that volunteering would become part of their plan to give back to the community.”
Since then, the administrative team has participated in at least three service projects with local organizations like Project Open Hand, a nutrition agency that provides medically-appropriate meals and nutrition education for those living with HIV/AIDS, and Junior Achievement Georgia, the state chapter of a national organization dedicated to educating K-12 students about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.
“Knowing that we’re doing good in the community is first and foremost,” said Candiss Addison, the department’s business manager, about incorporating service into their work. “We’re also assisting Georgia State University and the Department of Kinesiology and Health with its branding efforts and building a wonderful working relationship with our colleagues, which is rewarding.”
The administrative staff plans to put the $500 award toward the department’s Foundation account and will continue to plan service projects together.
“This award shows that staff can do more than their traditional administrative/management roles in the world of academia,” Addison said. “It means that when time management skills and a team-driven mindset are relied upon, we as staff can accomplish much together.”