President Nellis delivers remarks during opening session.
Texas Tech University hosted the 14th annual conference for the Engaged Scholarship Consortium, a collaborative effort by higher education member institutions to address community needs.
A pre-conference was held Oct. 6 and 7 at the Overton Hotel, followed by the conference Oct. 8 and 9 at locations in the Student Union Building and the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center. This is the first time Texas Tech has hosted the conference after joining the consortium three years ago.
“It has given our own faculty and researchers a venue to talk about their various engaged scholarship projects,” said Birgit Green, director of engaged research and partnerships for Texas Tech and co-chair for the conference. “At the same time it gives individuals from Texas Tech the opportunities to network with others from across the country and exchange experiences.”
The conference boasted more than 100 universities participating from across the world, including representatives from universities in Africa, Latin America, South America and Canada. More than 500 attendees went to more than 130 presentations.
Valerie Paton, co-chair for the conference and associate professor of higher education in the College of Education said the work represented at the conference is indicative of how higher education can and does impact communities across the world. She said engaged scholarship involves faculty and university personnel working directly with communities to address various needs.
“Universities are being asked to use the very best of their resources to address the needs of society,” Paton said. “They are being pressed—by their countries; by their communities—to bring the resources that exist in universities to the very forefront to the needs of society.”
Conference speaker and attendee Alejandra Gudino, from the University of Missouri, said the conference was a unique opportunity to share the work they do with other members of higher education who might benefit from similar applications. Her work, which uses self-reflection to address matters of bias and inclusion to help individuals achieve success, was highlighted during a pre-conference symposium on Race, Ethnicity and Community Engagement in Higher Education.
In his closing remarks, Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis pointed to the university’s involvement in engaged scholarship over the years.
“I hope you have had an opportunity to tour our campus, visit with our people and come to understand Texas Tech’s engagement and partnerships across our community, region and the nation,” Nellis said.
In fact, Texas Tech’s involvement in engaged scholarship was placed in the national spotlight in the aftermath of the tornadoes that devastated Oklahoma last spring. Texas Tech’s application of research findings on storm shelters is the result of more than 40 years of engaged scholarship with Texas Tech researchers and West Texas communities.
“Texas Tech’s research has set the benchmark for the world and saved thousands of people,” Paton said of storm shelter research. “The work of Texas Tech researchers is now being recognized. They didn’t need that kind of recognition, they just kept working on it over the years because they were faithful to their vision and we wanted the world to see how powerful Texas Tech is in its research and its work with community members.”