Inaugural cohort of Community-Engaged Learning Fellows implement new ideas for courses

Cade Smith (standing left), assistant dean and director of student leadership and community engagement, interacts with faculty and non-formal teaching staff participants in the inaugural Community-Engaged Learning Fellows program, as Meggan Franks, assistant director, leads a session from the podium on preparing students to work with the community. The 15 MSU employees worked to redesign or propose a class incorporating community-engagement principles into the learning process. PHOTO: Megan Bean | Public Affairs

Fifteen Mississippi State employees from across the university recently completed a new program designed to help them incorporate community-engaged learning into courses in their respective departments.

The Community-Engaged Learning Fellows spent three weeks redesigning courses and preparing to integrate community-engaged learning into their teaching, research and public service work. The program aims to integrate the philosophy, pedagogy and process of community-engaged learning into the MSU academic environment and develop faculty leaders who can encourage and mentor their peers.

Supported by the MSU Center for Community-Engaged Learning and the Center for Teaching and Learning, the program is open to all faculty and other non-formal teaching staff. Participants exchange ideas with an academically diverse group and learn from the experiences of others in the cohort. They also receive individual assistance to design or revise a course syllabus and also tools and resources needed to successfully implement a community-engaged course. These fellows then are connected to community partners and others in a university-wide academic, community-engaged network. They receive a $1,000 stipend upon the program’s completion to support course development and research.

Cade Smith, MSU assistant dean and director for student leadership and community engagement, said community involvement can make the difference in ordinary learning and developing a lifelong passion for learning that impacts both students and society.

“Engagement is a thread that runs through the fabric of Mississippi State University,” Smith said.

Those who completed the inaugural program include:

-- Silvina Lopez Barrera, School of Architecture in the College of Architecture, Art and Design.

-- Wen-Hsing Cheng, Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

-- Renee Clary in the Department of Geosciences in the College of Arts and Sciences.

-- Amelia Fox, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

-- Kristin Javorsky, Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education.

-- Melanie Loehwing, Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Sciences.

-- Christina Loftin, Clinical Science Department in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

-- Dong Meng, Swalm School of Chemical Engineering in the Bagley College of Engineering.

-- Thessalia Merivaki, Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences.

-- Suzanne Powney, Department of Art in the College of Architecture, Art and Design.

-- Angela Savage, Department of Social Work at MSU-Meridian.

-- Holli Seitz, Department of Communication in the College of Arts and Sciences.

-- Kimberly Walters, Department of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

-- Ashley Vancil-Leap, Department of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

-- Joe Witt, Department of Philosophy and Religion in the College of Arts and Sciences.

For more about the Community-Engaged Learning Fellows and other university community-engagement initiatives, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Allison Matthews | Public Affairs

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