Professor Francesca Adler-Baeder poses with Kate Taylor Harcourt after Harcourt received her Master’s degree. Harcourt is currently a doctoral candidate under Adler-Baeder in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
Profiles in Excellence is a feature presenting Auburn University faculty who have been honored by the university or nationally for the top level of achievement in teaching, research or outreach.
Francesca Adler-Baeder embodied the mission of a land-grant institution long before she came to Auburn University.
Adler-Baeder says she first learned about "valuing hard work dedicated to a larger purpose" from her parents – a father who served in the U.S. Army for 30 years and a mother who provided selfless support to her husband and family.
She has devoted her life to community education and family science research since earning two degrees in human development and family studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
A member of the faculty of Auburn's Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Sciences since 2001, Adler-Baeder says she believes teaching, research and outreach are fundamentally intertwined.
"It should all be moving our communities forward towards enhanced quality of life," said Adler-Baeder. "It's what the College of Human Sciences is all about and it's the founding principle of Auburn University."
Auburn selected Adler-Baeder, a professor and Extension specialist, to receive the 2013 Faculty Award for Excellence in Faculty Outreach, which honors the engagement of exemplary faculty members and demonstrates the tremendous impact outreach has on the community, state and nation.
Adler-Baeder may be best known for championing the creation of the Alabama Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Initiative in 2002, a partnership of Auburn, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, a state agency consortium and the Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers.
Auburn University garnered national attention when Professor Francesca Adler-Baeder addressed a White House Roundtable on Innovative Community Partnerships in 2009.
The initiative is designed to address Alabama's persistent history of marital and family instability and its negative consequences on individual and community health and well-being by providing educational resources and community classes on healthy relationships for youth and adults. It has become one of the nation's most successful projects on promoting and strengthening stable relationships and positive family functioning, evidenced by an extensive evaluation study.
"This award is an acknowledgement of the passionate hard work of several of my Auburn colleagues, hundreds of Auburn students and our state and community partners who have poured their hearts into jointly creating, implementing, fine-tuning, and evaluating this unique, large-scale, coordinated program focused on promoting relational health in our state," she said.
Adler-Baeder also credits the more than 30,000 youth and adults throughout Alabama who have participated in the educational programs over the past decade and provided feedback and evidence of effectiveness. "To see the achievements and contributions of all these individuals recognized and honored is incredibly meaningful," she said.
Beyond her roles at Auburn, Adler-Baeder serves as the director of the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network and the National Stepfamily Resource Center, and on the advisory board of the Military Family Research Institute. She has given more than 150 presentations at conferences and meetings and has more than 50 academic publications.
In 2009, Adler-Baeder and a community partner were invited to participate as one of only five speakers for a White House Roundtable on Innovative Community Partnerships.
She notes that the White House Roundtable provided an opportunity to share information about the land-grant institution mission and its vital responsibility for promoting access to research-based information that promotes quality of life in our communities. "It was a pinnacle moment to have the national spotlight on an Auburn homegrown initiative," she said.
— By Amy Weaver, Office of Communications & Marketing
Last Updated: Oct. 7, 2013