Those Who Give Sometimes Also Receive Rutgers University, Newark, Will Honor Its Own Who ‘Give Back,’ as Well as The Prudential Foundation

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(Newark, N.J)

Come Dec. 8, Rutgers University in Newark will honor its own, as well as the charitable foundation of Newark-based Prudential Financial, for “exemplary leadership in connecting the campus with the community.”  The recipients of the 2009 Chancellor’s Community Engagement Awards are three individuals: Nick Kline and Alan Sadovnik, faculty members at Rutgers, and Diane Hill, director of the Office of Campus and Community Relations; two programs, the Street Law Program of the Rutgers School of Law-Newark, and the law school’s hands-on legal clinic program; the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience, a community-centered academic research center; and The Prudential Foundation.

In announcing the annual awards, Chancellor Steven J. Diner stated that the campus is home to many dedicated faculty, staff and students who donate countless hours working with community agencies and populations, forming partnerships, engaging in research and teaching activities, and forging “valuable relationships with Newark and its neighbors.”  This fall Rutgers University in Newark was listed in the top 25 colleges in the U.S. in a survey of “Best College and University Civic Partnerships,” and , Diner noted,  the American Council on Education “selected us as their only case study to learn about community engagement and diversity.” The Carnegie Foundation also has listed Rutgers in Newark as one of only 76 “community-engaged” colleges and universities in the United States.

Following are the honorees, their hometowns and their awards:

Nick Kline, New York, N.Y., Department of Arts, Culture and Media, 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.  Kline is being honored for his work in developing the GlassBook Project, a joint project of the national nonprofit organization Witness Justice and the Department of Arts, Culture and Media, designed to facilitate a nationwide collaboration between universities, mental health organizations and trauma survivors to address responses to psychological trauma. Students in Kline’s book arts class created glass books after meeting with survivors and mental health experts, then working with Kate Dowd at the GlassRoots glassmaking studios in Newark to translate their ideas into reality.

Alan Sadovnik, New York, N.Y., School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), and Urban Education, Faculty of Arts and Sciences-Newark, Faculty Community Research Award, for research of broad scholarly significance based in whole or in part on data from Newark or northern New Jersey.  Sadovnik’s extensive research on urban educational problems and policies “has made important contributions to our understanding of urban education in general and education in Newark, in particular,” stated his nominator, SPAA Dean Marc Holzer. He also credited Sadovnik’s work as a co-director of the Institute on Education Law and Policy and the Newark Schools Research Collaborative as a source of major reports on educational issues impacting Newark and other urban school districts.

Diane Hill, Bloomfield, N.J., Office of Campus and Community Relations, Faculty/Staff Community Service Award, honoring exemplary community service in Newark or other communities in the vicinity of the campus.  Hill was nominated by her entire staff, who stated, in part, that “Her civic engagement initiatives have resulted in the establishment of a myriad of youth service programs that have provided volunteer and service opportunities for scores of Rutgers students to positively impact the lives of the local youth.”  They also declared,  “Dedication to community service resides in the very core of her being.  It is reflected in her persona and evidenced in both her personal and professional goals, which is why her accomplishments are so noteworthy.”

The Street Law Program of the Rutgers School of Law -Newark, Student Community Service Award, recognizing a student organization or individual student for outstanding volunteer service in Newark or other communities in the vicinity of the campus.  This program, which is directed by Alycia Guichard, brings 21 law student volunteers to Newark and nearby schools where they teach approximately 150 area middle- and high-school students about the impact of law and government on their daily lives, and how to navigate the issues they might personally encounter.  “Our program seeks to bring proficiency in practical law to youth and adults and to empower them to use the law to become more active and responsible citizens,” stated Toni G. Kelich, a third-year law student and program assistant.  Bronwyn Proffit-Higgins, one of the student-teachers, noted, “Teaching Street Law in a local high school allowed me to encourage my students to make a difference in their community by reporting instances of police misconduct, writing local legislators, researching community issues, and seeking legal help when necessary.”   

Two awards were announced in the category of Academic Program/Unit Award. The Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience (IECME) and the  Rutgers School of Law-Newark ‘s program of seven hands-on, live-client legal clinics  are recognized for exemplary teaching, research or service activities that engage with the external community.  

“In the 11 years since its inception, IECME has become a leading academic force in the greater Newark metropolitan community through hosting lectures, symposia, film, performances, exhibitions, and other programs that enhance public understanding of urban life, the social construction of difference, race relations, local history, urban youth culture, and education,” according to nominator Sherri-Ann Butterfield, associate professor of sociology at Rutgers.  In addition to IECME’s “significant community and service focus,” stated Butterfield, “Its core mission stems from its interdisciplinary academic work which is buttressed by research and teaching,” including many IECME-sponsored programs grounded in research conducted by scholars from Rutgers and other national universities.  IECME’s founding director is Rutgers Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History Clement A. Price.

The Rutgers School of Law-Newark’s Clinical Education Program directed by Professor Jon Dubin is being recognized in its 40th anniversary year for what Dean John Farmer described as its “scope, influence, longevity and success in performing valuable community service and access to justice to Newark and New Jersey communities and residents.” The seven clinics combine hands-on education for law students, enabling them to work with real clients, while providing free legal services to the community.  Over the years, the clinics “have helped to establish numerous important legal precedents on the national, regional and local levels,” stated Farmer in his nomination. “The clinical program also has helped make the law school an important partner in empowering, protecting and preserving the surrounding community.”

The Prudential Foundation, Community Partner Award, given to a non-profit community organization or a government agency for exceptional collaboration with faculty, students and/or staff of Rutgers-Newark. Rutgers-Newark Chancellor Steven J. Diner cited The Foundation for its “support and partnership which reinforces our organizations’ mutual interest in developing the surrounding community.” He noted that contributions from The Foundation have “jump-started numerous campus community outreach initiatives and programs, such as the Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership, the Abbott Leadership Institute, the Institute on Education Law & Policy, just to name a few.”

Gabriella Morris, vice president and head of the Community Resources Department at Prudential Financial, Inc., is president of The Prudential Foundation.  The Prudential Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, a subsidiary of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE:PRU).  In order to promote sustainable communities and improve social outcomes for community residents, The Prudential Foundation focuses its grant-making strategy in the areas of education, economic development and arts and civic infrastructure. In 2008, The Prudential Foundation made a total of 302 grants totaling $15 million in support of this strategy.  In addition, the Foundation also supports the community engagement efforts of Prudential employees through Matching Gifts and other special programs that recognize their volunteer efforts.