More than 30 Years of Engagement for Ohio's Public Good

2020 David Hoch Memorial Award for Excellence in Service

Ohio Campus Compact is pleased to announce the two David Hoch Memorial Award for Excellence in Service Recipients for 2020!

The David Hoch Memorial Award for Excellence in Service is designed to recognize and honor the outstanding work in service-learning and/or civic engagement performed by a faculty or staff member at an Ohio Campus Compact member institution.  This award is named for the late David Hoch, the Dean of Honors at The University of Toledo, who served as the Director of Service Learning from 1999 – 2005.  Hoch was instrumental in initiating and nurturing the role of civic engagement at The University of Toledo, not only in the Honors Program, but in residence life and other departments as well. His guidance helped grow academic service-learning, student-led community service, and the presidential emphasis on broader civic engagement.

This award is given annually to up to two faculty or staff members from an Ohio Campus Compact member institution(s). To be considered, the nominee must demonstrate outstanding leadership in furthering the civic mission of the institution.  The president of the college or university must nominate each candidate.

“Ohio Campus Compact is pleased to recognize two Ohio faculty members with the 2020 David Hoch Memorial Award for Excellence in Service- Dr. Michael Sharp, Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education, Director of Service-Learning and Associate Professor at University of Cincinnati and Dr. Lori Kumler, Associate Professor of Political Science & International Studies at University of Mount Union. Their tireless dedication and contributions to teaching, leadership and support for the civic development and education of college students deserves to be celebrated.” ~Richard Kinsley, Executive Director, Ohio Campus Compact

OCC would like to recognize the following faculty as 2020 finalists:

  • Dr. John Forren, Miami University
  • Dr. Lee Nickoson, Bowling Green State University
  • Dr. Tim Burkart, University of Findlay

2020 David Hoch Memorial Award for Excellence in Service Recipients

Dr. Michael Sharp, University of Cincinnati
Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education, Director of Service-Learning and Associate Professor

Dr. Sharp was hired as the Associate Director of Academic-Community Partnerships, a grant-funded position supported by the Mayerson Foundation, in 2008. Since that time, Dr. Sharp has been instrumental in leading a tremendous growth in Service-Learning at UC, including a university-wide and full-throated embrace of the vision and mission of his office. The short narrative below will highlight his work with Service-Learning and Civic Engagement at the University of Cincinnati, including how this work has impacted Dr. Sharp and others. For eleven years, Dr. Sharp has been leading the Service Learning at the University of Cincinnati, a program that connects stakeholder who support over 4000 student registrations per year, representing every undergraduate college at UC. He is an associate professor of Experiential Learning, teaching classes in the Division of Experience-Based Learning and Career Education and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Communication Department. Sharp created and is leading a novel approach to service-learning called the Service Learning Collaboratory, a class that was recognized via the Dean’s Award for Innovative Instruction. He is the co-creator and co-host of the Tapioca Radio Show, and has introduced to the university the Jack Twyman Award for Service Learning. Sharp is the senior editor of Experience Magazine: Practice and Theory and has earned a doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership at the University of Cincinnati. His dissertation, Critical Curriculum and Just Community: Making sense of Service Learning in Cincinnati, focused on the importance of “critical pedagogy” created through campus-community partnerships, was awarded dissertation of the year by the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE). This award-winning work has been contracted for publication by UC Press. Some of Sharp’s service to his community includes coaching youth baseball (Cincinnati Freedom) and volunteering. He also co-chairs the Greater Cincinnati Service Learning Network’s higher education committee. Toward completing a doctorate in Urban Educational Leadership (2018), Dr. Sharp wrote many pages detailing the criticality of service-learning curriculum, particularly regarding how service-learning impacts students, faculty, institutions, and communities. This was the topic of his dissertation study. More pages were committed to explaining the frameworks that undergirds his praxis and pedagogy—structuration theory and collective impact—which were followed by more pages describing the inquiry into the SL@UC’s program evolution. All of this dissertating, however, was done to improve SL@UC and to positively impact his community, the campus, and the field of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement. Through Dr. Sharp’s career, contributions to Service-Learning and Civic Engagement theory and practice are quite evident. Specifically, Dr. Sharp’s work contributes meaningfully to the understanding of how teaching, service, and scholarship are integral to the theoretical underpinnings of campus-community engagement, as these two spheres are often seen as separate, disjointed, and dualistic, particularly by those with institutional power. With the emphasis on the duality of agency within institutional structure (“what can we do with what we have?”), however, Dr. Sharp has been able to move from merely describing programmatic evolutions to prescribing different courses of action relative to them. What he found is applicable to other stakeholders and programs. That is, change can be accomplished through collectively living and collectively telling that story. The key seems to be found in collaboratively making sense of and re-structuring an institutional reality that benefits many types of stakeholders, a perspective that can be understood by drawing from Giddens’s (1984; 1990) structurational perspective, Putnam and Stohl’s (1990; 1996) treatment of the bona fide group perspective, Bormann’s (1985) theory of rhetorical vision, and McPhee’s (1985) work focusing on structure and decision-making. Throughout the last decade, one pressing question that continues to go unanswered for Dr. Sharp is whether higher education is a means to prepare students for the marketplace or geared toward making the world a better place. One pathway “leans” toward the capitalistic culture of the west and the other toward social justice, perhaps another duality. Dr. Sharp’s fear is that most of higher education is focused on the former, geared toward creating cogs for the capitalistic machinery of the consumption culture, but we—higher education—can do better, and perhaps we can do so by understanding the ongoing structuration of higher education, including how its stakeholders (from the campus and the community) are or are not empowered as agents within it. Our day-to-day responsibilities often constrain work that would better the communities that host our universities, but we can do better. This means that our students can do better, which subsequently means that are communities will be better. Dr. Sharp has worked diligently to build into the campus-community (understood here as both/and) over the tenure of his leadership (2008-present). He understands that critical relationships are the key to social change. He has taught thousands of students about this concept, engaged hundreds of faculty and staff, and has helped to connect an ever-increasing amount of community organizations to the resources of the campus. Today, UC is proud to boast one of the largest Service-Learning programs in the world. For example, close to 4,000 students participated in over 240 S-L courses in the past year. Coincidentally, and in deep partnership with UC’s Center for Community Engagement, Dr. Sharp and the S-L faculty that he routinely engages with have nurtured and grown a very robust cohort of UC’s not-for-profit stakeholders (close to 500 partners). In summary, Dr. Sharp has taken Service-Learning from the periphery of the University of Cincinnati to a centrally supported program, one with many connections to many stakeholders, both on- and off-campus. Today, in fact, Service-Learning is one of the largest Experiential Learning programs at UC, and it is well poised to continue to grow. But this work, by design, does not happen in isolation. As he has been changed by serving others, an ancient lesson that is often forgotten in today’s world, Dr. Sharp has learned to teach those lessons to others – and learn those lessons from others – in creative ways. There is still much work to do, and he hopes that by exemplifying the life and legacy of Dean David Hoch, he and others can strive collectively forward.

Dr. Lori Kumler, University of Mount Union
Associate Professor of Political Science & International Studies

Over decades of teaching, I have found community engaged learning and civic engagement to be quite effective in making course content relevant for students. Classroom teaching certainly proved to be the “gateway” to civic engagement for me; over the years, it has progressed beyond my classroom to working towards getting students across our campus to become civically engaged. Importantly, however, while I can talk about “what I have accomplished,” none of these accomplishments are my own. All were part of a team effort, working with numerous people across campus and in the community. Below I highlight a few of these efforts. Given length limitations, I will briefly touch on classroom and one-on-one efforts with a greater focus on campus wide and community efforts. When given a framework to address social problems, I have found that students exceed expectations. In community engagement projects, students identify a problem, research attempts to address the problem, develop their own action plan to address the problem, and then implement their action plan. Students also interview a decision-maker who might be able to provide insight on the issue. Specific examples include: • Bullying: Students created and implemented a program on bullying over multiple days in the local middle school after hours program. • Poverty and the holidays: Students created and ran a half day “Christmas cares” program on campus for 50 local school children. • Outdoor play at school: Students focused on improving and greening a local playground. • To bring local government to citizens, students interviewed officials including: Alliance law director, Stark County Commissioner, Alliance Schools Superintendent, Alliance City Council member, and our State Assembly representative, among others. WRMU then aired the interviews. As a result of these projects, students reported stronger self-efficacy, greater understanding of course concepts, and new skills related to technology, networking, teamwork. Furthermore, students’ efforts rubbed off on me. For example, over two years, I continued the playground project that students began, spearheading an effort that resulted in two grants to improve outdoor habitat at a local elementary school. Our team consisted of local parents, the school principal, teachers, the University’s Huston-Brumbaugh Nature Center, and elementary students. These early efforts morphed into larger scale projects: • Teaming up with a colleague to take students to Washington DC through the Friends’ Committee on National Legislation where we undergo lobby training and lobby our representatives. • Partnering with our local College Credit Plus instructor at Alliance High School, Joe Beichler on several fronts (see his letter for details). • Student members of Pi Sigma Alpha received a grant to host a combined community-campus viewing of PBS’ coming series on the 19th amendment, “The Vote.” We worked with the Stark County Women’s Voting Centennial group to publicize the event (now to be in fall). • Encouraging community turnout during off year elections by hosting a community town hall in fall 2017 and 2019 featuring candidates for local office and student moderators. Our greatest impacts, however, have been driven by my partnership with the Regula Center for Public Service to scale up civic engagement on campus and in the local community. Following UMU’s membership in NSLVE in spring 2016, Regula Director Abby Schroeder and I put together a coalition of staff, faculty, and students, ranging from Student Affairs, the student newspaper, several academic departments, student leaders, and marketing, to gear up for the presidential elections. We planned four debate watch events and get out the vote efforts. We established a hashtag, #UMUVotes2016, linked voter registration information to our learning management system, distributed voter registration forms to all first-year seminar faculty, and linked all events to the online student newspaper. Students opened and led each debate watch event with a focus on civility; we enlisted student leaders (Regula Scholars, Pi Sigma Alpha members, student senate, Greek organization leaders) and provided philanthropy incentives to Greek organizations. Nearly 300 students attended the four events, with many others watching debates in their campus residences. I undertook a follow up research study with a student and found that previous non-voting students who were members of Greek organizations and attended one of our hosted debate events were significantly more likely to register and vote than students from the same population who did not attend one of our hosted debates. Our success raised a question: how could we provide more sustained efforts to get students to register and vote in every election? I considered the idea of making political engagement opportunities available 24-7 using a physical kiosk on campus; Regula Center Director Abby Honaker Schroeder liked the idea and Librarian Gina Maida agreed to join our team. We have made Civic Corner available to other institutions at cost on our website (and one installed for free at Alliance High School), fulfilling orders at schools and colleges from Washington state to Massachusetts. More recently, Abby Schroeder and I have worked to engage other campuses in student civic engagement efforts via launching an OAC challenge that will spur some friendly competition over the coming year. We are teaming with the ALL-IN Challenge to host a campus workshop for OAC schools in August 2020. These team efforts are among my proudest accomplishments. I have found how willing students are to take the lead and share responsibility when asked, how effective team-building and cross campus efforts are at mobilizing students to get involved and make a difference, and I have realized the still untapped potential of community engaged learning to have lasting positive effects on our students, our campus, and our community. We have worked hard to plant seeds of civic engagement among students and community members; some sprout quickly, others may lie dormant to spring to life at a future date/place. As a result of these efforts, my understanding of teaching and learning has changed, and my appreciation for the work done by staff, faculty, and community members has grown tremendously. Fueled by these many partnerships, I will continue to seek out creative ways to plant more seeds in the years to come.

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