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WKU faculty member receives civic engagement award

Dr. Molly Kerby, associate professor in WKU’s Department of Diversity & Community Studies, was one of four outstanding leaders in civic engagement honored recently by the American Democracy Project (ADP), an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

Dr. Molly Kerby (left) received The Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement. The award is named for Dr. Burch, (right) WKU's former provost.

Dr. Molly Kerby (left) received The Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement. The award is named for Dr. Burch, (right) WKU’s former provost, and recognizes exemplary faculty leadership in advancing the civic learning and engagement of undergraduate students and advancing the work of AASCU’s American Democracy Project.

Dr. Kerby was one of two recipients of The Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement, presented June 2 at the 2016 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting (CLDE) in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Barbara Burch Award for Faculty Leadership in Civic Engagement, named for WKU’s former provost, was established in 2014 to honor exemplary faculty leadership in advancing the civic learning and engagement of undergraduate students and advancing the work of AASCU’s American Democracy Project. Dr. Burch provided extraordinary national leadership in the design, creation and ongoing development of the American Democracy Project.

“I would like to say that receiving a national award for faculty leadership in civic engagement is a very special honor,” Dr. Kerby said. “I have been an active member of the American Democracy Project since its inception and an avid supporter of civic engagement in higher education. What makes receiving this award particularly special, however, is that it’s named for the work professor and Provost Emerita Barbara Burch has done with AASCU’s American Democracy Project and at Western Kentucky University. She is a rock star in the field of higher education and is committed to civic and student engagement. Receiving this award is the highlight of my career thus far. I don’t think I have ever considered the work I do with students in the community as ‘award-winning.’ It just makes sense to teach students to be civically engaged through hands-on, experiential learning.”

“Molly is carrying on the tremendous work that Dr. Burch started as WKU Provost, and I’m delighted to see both of them recognized through this national award,” said Dr. David Lee, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

According to Jane Olmsted, department head of Diversity and Community Studies at WKU, Dr. Kerby “is tireless in her commitment to service, student engagement, community outreach, sustainability, global civic awareness and action, and all of it is intellectually grounded in scholarship: public, others’, her own, students.”

The other recipient of the Burch award was Dr. Elizabeth Bennion, professor of political science at Indiana University South Bend and ADP campus director.

The 2016 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement conference is a partnership between AASCU’s ADP, community college members of The Democracy Commitment, and NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education. The conference is intended to strengthen and deepen the civic learning and engagement work that these associations are all committed to across their institutions—both public and private.

Contact: Jennifer Walpole, (202) 478-4665; or Academic Affairs, (270) 745-2296

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