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


Campus Compact today announced the twelve faculty and staff selected as 2019-2020 Midwest Engaged Scholars. Those selected will be a part of the two pilot cohorts of the new Engaged Scholars Initiative. The initiative provides support, development, and connections for leaders who can advance co-created knowledge, critically-engaged pedagogies, institutional change, and collaborative action to address societal issues.

Scholars were nominated by college and university presidents and chief academic officers and selected from a highly competitive pool from the Midwest Region. The 2019-2020 scholars represent nine institutions from twelve states, and a variety of roles on their campus connected to civic and community engagement.

“Campus Compact is thrilled to welcome the first cohort of the Midwest Region Engaged Scholars Initiative,” said Marisol Morales, Vice President for Network Leadership at Campus Compact. “The interest in the program and the caliber and diversity of all the applicants was extraordinary. The goal of this program is to develop and support equity-minded community engaged scholars and practitioners who can shape the future of this field. I believe that we move a step closer to achieving that goal with this inaugural cohort.”

2019-2020 Midwest Scholars:

  • Aaliyah Baker, Assistant Professor, Education (Cardinal Stritch University)
  • Amanda Furst, Director of Public Interest Programs (University of Minnesota Law School)
  • Lucien Gonzalez, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry (University of Minnesota)
  • Susan Harvey, Assistant Professor, Health, Sport, & Exercise Sciences (University of Kansas)
  • Karlos Hill, Associate Professor and Department Chair, African and African-American Studies (University of Oklahoma)
  • Jake Kurczek, Assistant Professor, Neuroscience and Psychology (Loras College)
  • Tyanna McLaurin, Assistant Director of Service Learning (Marquette University
  • LaTrina Parker, P-16 Initiative Coordinator, Service Learning Academy (University of Nebraska at Omaha)
  • Mary Rogers, Assistant Professor, Horticulture (University of Minnesota)
  • Ryan Spohn, Director, Nebraska Center for Justice Research (University of Nebraska at Omaha)
  • Castel Sweet, Coordinator, Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship (University of Dayton)
  • Vaughn Watson, Assistant Professor, English Education (Michigan State University)

Meet Castel Sweet from Ohio!

Castel Sweet, Coordinator of Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship in the Fitz Center for Community Leadership, University of Dayton

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Castel Sweet is a sociologist who explores the intricacies of community, culture, and race. Both for herself and those whom she has the privilege to engage with, Castel encourages the unknown to be explored, endeavors to make the unfamiliar familiar, and seeks to cultivate relationships that are transformational instead of transactional. In 2012, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice/Criminology from Hampton University. Thereafter, she earned a Master of Arts in Sociology from Louisiana State University in 2014 and continued on to complete her doctorate degree in Sociology at LSU in 2017. Her dissertation research explored hip hop and rap artists’ embeddedness in local communities, and their interpretation of the connectedness between their work and their communities. During her time at LSU, Castel was involved in various curricular and co-curricular activities including teaching an undergraduate service-learning social work course. Outside of the classroom, she participated in numerous community service related programs and initiatives. As a graduate assistant in LSU’s College of Humanities and Social Science Office of Social Service Research & Development, Castel assisted with the planning and implementation of a $1.5 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, for a three-year afterschool and summer program for African-American males. In addition, she served as the Community Outreach Director for LSU’s Geaux BIG Baton Rouge and served as the Focus Area Director for Volunteer LSU. Being a cultural enthusiast, Castel loves to travel and has participated and mentored national and international cross-cultural immersion service trips. During the last year of graduate school, she was awarded a Distinguished Graduate Assistantship which allowed her to live in Abu Dhabi, UAE. As part of the assistantship, Castel worked with The Petroleum Institute’s student affairs staff, helping to reorganize their student groups and organizations, and created student leadership train- ings and workshops for both the male and female campuses. Castel is currently the Coordinator of Community Engaged Learning and Scholarship in the Fitz Center for Community Leadership at the University of Dayton where she coordinates co-curricular community engagement programming and provides support for the development of community-engaged learning courses and initiatives. Primarily, Castel manages a semester-long co-curricular community engaged learning program where students take a sabbatical from traditional courses and are placed at community organizations working full-time providing direct support to social service agencies throughout the city of Dayton. Complimenting student’s experience in the community, Castel facilitates a course focused on student’s understanding of social and systemic impacts on communities with the goal of increasing their ability to become actively engaged in social change throughout their lives.

Learn more about each scholar.

Selected scholars will participate in an 18-month ongoing learning and leadership process which includes professional development, collaboration, and scholarship to help the individual participants and the cohort strengthen their scholarship, research, and impact. Scholars will participate in in-person and online learning opportunities, including retreats, regular meetings, and the Midwest Region Campus Compact Conference, which is taking place in May 2019 in Minneapolis, MN.

The Engaged Scholars Initiative is led by Campus Compact and is designed to leverage and enhance local, regional, and national knowledge, experience, and assets within the Compact network. For the inaugural program, the Midwest Region Campus Compact is partnering with the University of MinnesotaUniversity of Kansas, and Michigan State University, whose thought leadership, in-kind staffing, and financial support was critical to co-designing and launching this initiative.

“Strengthening the capacity of scholars to conduct high quality, impactful community-engaged research and teaching is essential for furthering the institutionalization of public engagement at our University,” said Andrew Furco, Associate Vice President for Public Engagement and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Minnesota, who provided support for the Engaged Scholarship Initiative as part of the University’s Office for Public Engagement’s goal to advance community-engaged scholarship across the university system. “I am delighted that our scholars have been selected to participate in this important initiative. Their participation will not only enhance their own scholarship, but it will provide opportunities for scholars across our University system to learn from their experience as we continue to find ways to advance community-engaged scholarship built on the values of equity, inclusion, and systemic change.”

The University of Kansas (KU) Center for Service Learning is also serving as a strategic partner and sees the effort as synergistic with efforts to further engaged scholarship locally, regionally, and nationally. In partnership with Campus Compact, KU will jointly host both The Research University Civic Engagement Network (TRUCEN) and the Midwest Region Engaged Scholars Initiative Mid-Program Retreat at KU in 2020. 

“We look forward to collaboratively supporting and expanding the network of scholars and leaders who will advance engaged scholarship not only within our institution, but for campuses and communities across the region,” said Jomella Watson-Thompson, Associate Director and Senior Faculty Associate with the Center for Service Learning at KU.  “The ESI will further prepare leaders to continue to champion for community engagement, including through participatory research and service-learning, at KU and beyond.”

The final cohort retreat in the summer of 2020 will be hosted by Michigan State University (MSU).

“Sharing the academic strengths of the university with the on-the-ground local knowledge of communities can propel impact for all,” said Laurie Van Egeren, Assistant Vice Provost for University-Community Partnerships, in the Office of University Outreach and Engagement. “This new initiative gives us the opportunity to share our existing scholarship with colleagues, expand on that knowledge, and build a new generation of leaders that supports civic engagement.  We are honored to participate in this critical and richly rewarding work.”

Eastern Region Campus Compact has already selected a pilot cohort and begun meeting. Learn more about that pilot.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of 1000+ colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Campus Compact supports institutions in fulfilling their public purposes by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. As the largest national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, we provide professional development to administrators and faculty to enable them to engage effectively, facilitate national partnerships connecting campuses with key issues in their local communities, build pilot programs to test and refine promising models in engaged teaching and scholarship, celebrate and cultivate student civic leadership, and convene higher education institutions and partners beyond higher education to share knowledge and develop collective capacity. The Midwest Region Campus Compacts include chapters in IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, OK, OH, SD, and WI.

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