Publicly Recognizing Those Who Do Good For Others:Rutgers University, Newark, To Honor Students, Staff And Faculty For Community Engagement

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Once again Rutgers University in Newark will honor individuals and organizations from the campus for exemplary leadership in connecting Rutgers-Newark with the Greater Newark community. The annual Chancellor’s Community Engagement Awards will be given out at a Dec. 15th ceremony that recognizes the valuable relationships that faculty, staff and students have created in Newark and with surrounding communities.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Leo Aristimuño, Arts, Culture and Media
  • Mark Gluck, Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Joel Caplan and Leslie Kennedy, School of Criminal Justice
  • Clayton Walton and Angela Vena, Paul Robeson Campus Center
  • Institute for Ethical Leadership-Rutgers Business School
  • Omega Phi Chi Sorority
  • Vivian Kim, Class of 2012, Newark College of Arts and Sciences
  • Pharmaceutical Management Club-RBS


In announcing the annual awards, Chancellor Steven J. Diner stated, “We are pleased to again recognize those who have contributed so much to our engagement with Newark and the region.”  The campus, notes Diner, has “so many dedicated faculty, staff and students, working with community agencies and populations, forming partnerships, engaging in research and teaching activities, and forging valuable relationships with Newark and its neighbors,” that the selection committee had a challenging job choosing from among the  nominees.

The Carnegie Foundation lists Rutgers-Newark as one of only 76 “community-engaged” colleges and universities in the United States.

The awards will be presented Dec. 15, from 4 – 6 p.m., in ceremonies at the University Club, Paul Robeson Campus Center, 350 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Following are the honorees, their awards and the programs/projects for which they are being recognized:


Clayton Walton (resident of South Orange, N.J.) and Angela Vena (native of Livonia, Michigan), Paul Robeson Campus Center, will receive the Community Engagement in Undergraduate Teaching and Learning, awarded to a full-time or part-time faculty member or teaching assistant for “recognizing exemplary use of the resources of the surrounding community in teaching and learning.” Their nominators, R-N alumni Katherine Lopez and Christopher Perez, cited them for working “hand in hand in creating a true college experience through urban service learning initiatives such as their leadership course, Urban College and Community Leadership Development Theory and Practice, and others like Alternative Spring Break and Adopt-a-Family.”


Joel Caplan (resident of Egg Harbor, N.J.) and Leslie Kennedy (resident of West Orange, N.J.), School of Criminal Justice, will each receive the Community Research Award, for “research of broad scholarly significance based in whole or in part on data from Newark or northern New Jersey.”  They were nominated by Eric L. Piza of the Newark Police Department, Office of the Police Director, for their work in developing the Risk Terrain Modeling Technique for crime analysis, which he describes as “truly groundbreaking, both as scholarship and as a practical tool for community safety. Dr. Caplan and Dr. Kennedy have truly become valuable research partners of the Newark Police Department and the Greater Newark Community as a whole.”


Leo Aristimuño (resident of Montclair, N.J.), Arts, Culture and Media, and Mark Gluck, of New York, N.Y., Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, will each receive the Faculty/Staff Community Service Award, “honoring exemplary community service in Newark or other communities in the vicinity of the campus.” Aristimuño received multiple nominations for his work on the Newark Mosaic, which nominator  Ian Watson describes as “the culmination of Leo’s long standing commitment to utilizing media in the service of social change and, as its name suggests, it is focused on our local community, Newark.”

Gluck was nominated by Dr. Ian Creese for his role in creating the Newark African-American Alzheimer’s Awareness and Brain Health Program. This program works with elderly African-Americans – a population at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease — to promote memory health, cognitive vitality, and a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease among seniors in Newark through specially designed  educational and memory fitness programs.


The Institute for Ethical Leadership-Rutgers Business School, will receive the Academic Program Unit Award, made to any academic department, program, center, institute or office for exemplary teaching, research or service activities that engage with the external community. Nominator Jennifer Smith said, “The IEL demonstrates exemplary leadership in engaging and collaborating with the external Newark and New Jersey community in order to advance its mission of strengthening ethical leadership to enhance civil society.”


Omega Phi Chi Sorority, Nu chapter; Vivian Kim, Class of 2012 (resident of  Fort Lee, N.J.),  and the Pharmaceutical Management Club-Rutgers Business School, each will receive the Student Community Service Awards, recognizing a student organization or individual student for outstanding volunteer service in Newark or other communities in the vicinity of the campus.

The Nu chapter of Omega Phi Chi sorority participates in various fund-raising walks, for charity, such as those for diabetes and breast cancer research, and also raises contributions for food banks, churches, toy drives and schools.  But it centers its philanthropy on children and AIDS, working with the AIDS Resource Foundation for Children at the Academy Street Firehouse in Newark as mentors/tutors and also raising funds for the organization, according to nominator Jazmin Alvarez, chapter president.

During the summers of 2010 and 2011, Vivian Kim volunteered more than 300 hours of her time at Hackensack University Medical Center in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Center.  On campus Vivian promoted awareness, while also fundraising, for both the Amputee Coalition of America and for Disabilities Awareness Month.

In his nomination for the Pharmaceutical Management Club-Rutgers Business School, Dr. Mahmud Hassan noted that the club has “made it a priority to give back to the community.” He cited its commitment to raising funds for causes ranging from autism research to breast cancer awareness, through walkathons, bake sales and even a bowling event.