Beyond Auburn Magazine
Summer 2021: "Summer Camp Reimagined"
In April, I was honored to be invited by our colleague Mike Kensler to participate in the Office of Sustainability’s annual Spirit of Sustainability Awards Program. It was exciting to learn about the exemplary projects receiving awards and to see the passion of these dedicated individuals. It was clear they all share a strong commitment in promoting a sustainable world and improving the quality of life for all. In that context, the Outreach and Sustainability offices have a lot in common, as do we with so many of our faculty and students who produce the many impactful engagement initiatives across campus.
Through active and strategic engagement, Auburn extends access to its educational resources beyond campus to promote continual learning, cultivate caring and engaged communities, and improve the health, well-being and fulfillment for all, especially to those underserved and in greatest need. This outreach takes many forms, including continuing education and lifelong learning programs, consultative and technical assistance, and public service projects which encourage civic involvement among faculty, staff, students and community partners.
Effective partnerships are critical to this engaged outreach work. Collaboration with communities, organizations and individuals gives us direction and promotes lasting dedication to shared objectives between stakeholders. These elements of inclusion and shared purpose are critical not only to the success of our immediate outcomes, but more importantly to achieving positive and lasting impact through our ongoing engagement.
Across campus, the state and well beyond, Auburn faculty, students and community partners are doing the good work of outreach. By “good” I don’t just mean well meaning, but work that is scholarly, high quality, very deliberately aligned with our university strategic plan objectives and proven effective in serving the public good. Many of these initiatives are award-winning and nationally recognized.
As we complete this academic year, and looking ahead to the coming months, it is clear that the pandemic, economic recovery and widespread civil and human rights concerns will continue to impact our lives and communities. Many of the articles in this edition of Beyond Auburn illustrate how Auburn faculty and students are addressing these issues through many impactful outreach programs. Other stories outline innovative initiatives which hold great promise to uplift our community quality of life well beyond recovery.
I encourage you to read this pivotal issue cover-to-cover and look for ways you can be involved in the outreach mission. We in University Outreach are committed to working with Auburn’s faculty, staff, students and community partners in continuing to make a difference in the lives of Alabamians and those beyond! Join us!
Join us in making a difference!
War Eagle and stay safe,
Royrickers Cook, Ph.D.
Vice President for University Outreach and Associate Provost
Over the past year, students of all ages have had to reinvent the way they learn and interact with their peers. Virtual platforms have become an essential staple for education, extracurricular activities and socialization. Now more than ever, students need an opportunity to authentically and safely connect with their peers in a variety of contexts.
Auburn Youth Programs, or AYP, together with its university and community partners, has reinvented the traditional summer camp experience by offering in-person, virtual and hybrid program options. Each program offers the opportunity to experience subjects and activities applicable to future majors and careers, while providing tools to create independently, think critically, work in teams and interact with peers.
For summer 2021, the high-demand veterinary camps offered in partnership with the College of Veterinary Medicine are once again being converted to a virtual experience. By converting to an online platform the camp can accept more applicants than ever before, connecting students from around the country to the university’s worldrenowned veterinary program. Camp participants engage in topics such as anatomy, imaging, first aid and public health. Participants will also gain valuable mentoring about veterinary science careers.
At architecture camp, students will work under the guidance of program faculty from the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. This year, both in-person and virtual options are offered where participants will learn from the university’s highly qualified professors and engage in hands-on activities to complete architectural design projects.
In addition to summer programs, AYP continues to offer virtual camps year-round. In AYP’s lineup of STEAM-related camps, which include coding, game development, animation and robotics programming, students develop skills in science, technology, mathematics and the arts.
The reading skills program, previously offered on-location throughout the state of Alabama, also continues with its live online programs throughout the year. In the program, individuals of all ages and stages of reading develop a deep love of reading by engaging in a dynamic online class, interacting with each other and the instructor in real time.
The highly anticipated in-person camps also return for 2021, and while these camps offer a reprieve from screen usage, the way students learn and interact has evolved to include the virtual platform. By reinventing summer camp to include in-person, virtual and hybrid formats, students can experience campus life at Auburn from anywhere in the world in a variety of ways.
AYP, offered through the Office of Professional and Continuing Education, or OPCE, is an extension of University Outreach that sponsors and executes a variety of summer programs designed to educate and inspire youth. AYP exists to promote educational and enjoyable summer programs to empower youth to find their passion, strengthen skills and shape their future.
To learn more about Auburn Youth Programs or to see the complete list of online camps and programs, visit www.auburn.edu/summercamps.
The Government and Economic Development Institute, or GEDI, provides training, education and professional certification programs to government agencies, municipalities, non-profits and businesses. GEDI employees and instructors travel the state hosting programs, classes, workshops and conferences. Many of GEDI’s participants rely on the training to earn or keep professional certifications, to progress on their career paths toward promotions and to receive the knowledge and skills needed to enhance job performance. When COVID-19 struck, it was clear that the programs had to continue as most of the participants were in essential positions and their education could not be put on hold.
GEDI leadership and staff quickly began discussing options and planning to pivot programs to online offerings. To train in this way, online hosting and testing platforms had to be set up, materials had to be converted, equipment needed to be purchased and instructors and staff had to be trained on the new technology and procedures. Students had a learning curve, and GEDI staff members worked to create instructions and tutorials to help them adapt. They communicated with participants regularly to let them know what to expect and to ensure their success.
The effort paid off with dozens of programs successfully completed online. GEDI was even able to offer week one of the Intensive Economic Development training course completely online last September, and the feedback was extremely positive.
As companies and organizations started resuming more regular operations, requests for training to be conducted face to face increased. GEDI had to balance these needs with protection for participants and presenters. Every effort was made to ensure safety by socially distancing attendees, using sanitizer and disinfectants, masks, face shields and partitions. GEDI invested again in technology to enhance programs and host hybrid courses, which include online learners as well as a limited number of participants in the classroom. In the fall of 2020, GEDI offered hybrid professional certification programs to members of the Alabama Association of Public Personnel Administrators, or AAPPA.
McKenzie Cooper is a training specialist with GEDI and one of the people who has been tasked with coordinating online and hybrid educational programs during COVID-19. “The Hybrid format has been very beneficial to our participants as it allows people across the state of Alabama to continue with their professional learning and development,” Cooper said. “A lot of people have travel restrictions placed on them and their budgets tightened. These courses offer them a big savings, because they aren’t having to pay for hotels, meals and other travel costs. Also, people who have family commitments and can’t leave home are still able to continue their education.”
GEDI is committed to serving the citizens of Alabama and to providing the best educational programs possible in whatever format serves them best. For more information about GEDI programs and services, visit www.auburn.edu/gedi.
Teachers across Alabama have benefited from Auburn University’s outreach mission for decades, and a growing part of that tradition is the online Encyclopedia of Alabama, or EOA, which is a project of University Outreach. The premier reference resource on Alabama’s history, culture and natural environment is increasingly embraced by the state’s educators in a variety of creative ways. EOA’s content also has become integral to resources that help teachers incorporate Alabama related information into their lesson plans.
The activities that Fort Payne Middle School teacher Nicki Barksdale has developed hint at the myriad ways EOA’s articles and photos can be used in a classroom. She relies on EOA for several fun projects in her social studies and science lessons, which also incorporate reading and English Language Arts standards. One of her students’ favorite projects is tied to lessons on animal species native to Alabama. They use EOA to identify information they can use to create illustrated trading cards.
For social studies, students search EOA for biographical information and photos of famous Alabamians to write minibiographies and design postage stamps. An end-of-the-year project involves creating a picture quilt of Alabama. Students use EOA’s index to find a person, place or thing from Alabama that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
“I love the EOA. It is such an amazing resource. It is so easy for students to navigate, and the articles and photos are incredible. The EOA reminds me of the people, places and things that make our state so amazing,” said Barksdale. “As a teacher, thank you for keeping this site going. My students and I appreciate you.”
In addition to sharing her examples for using EOA with her local colleagues, Barksdale also promoted the site’s merits at professional development events for teachers in Gadsden and Scottsboro, which she helped lead as a master teacher. They, among the 20 four-day summer institutes, organized the Alabama Bicentennial Commission and the Alabama Department of Archives and History, or ADAH, in 2019. More than 450 teachers participated in sessions, held across the state, designed to highlight historical resources available in their communities. The theme of an institute reflected where it was held and the interests of educators leading it, but EOA’s content was highlighted at each of them as an easily accessible resource that supported teachers’ professional needs.
The benefits of blending local history with classroom lessons is a topic Hayden McDaniel, education curator at the state archives in Montgomery, enthusiastically expounds upon. “Family stories have historical context, and when students discover the connections between what their families or communities have experienced and the big history lessons they are being taught, a light bulb goes off,” she said. “When students connect something that is a part of their world to a larger story, the lessons resonate with them.”
To help teachers accomplish this, McDaniel and her colleagues create resource packets for teachers that link primary source materials from Alabama—photos, artifacts, documents, maps, diaries—with information that ties them to broader lessons. EOA is one of the staff’s go-to sources for providing teachers with historical context for these items. “We all use it,” she said. The packets they create typically include links to relevant EOA articles.
Currently, the primary resources packets are available online at alabama200.org/educators/primary-sources.
Approaching Selma, Alabama, from the south on Highway 80, the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge looms large on the horizon as travelers begin the incline to cross the Alabama River.
Most drivers may not notice the 300-yard area before the bridge — now a dilapidated row of mostly boarded-up businesses long since shuttered—or even realize they are traveling through a historic site until they happen to catch a glimpse of the modest memorial park located to the bridge’s southeast as they head downtown. Two Auburn University professors—Richard Burt and Keith Hébert—are committed to changing that, as the four-lane roadway that heads toward the bridge was the site of one of the most seminal moments of the history of civil rights.
That was where, on March 7, 1965, John Lewis, Hosea Williams and a group of approximately 600 marchers were confronted by Alabama State Troopers armed with tear gas and metal batons as they began a march for equality toward Montgomery. The nation watched in horror that night on ABC as marchers were pummeled by law enforcement in what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” an event that would serve as a catalyst for Americans across the country to rally behind the civil rights movement like never before.
A much larger group of marchers—including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Lewis—eventually would complete the roughly 50-mile journey to the state’s capital city on March 24, but Bloody Sunday will remain a pivotal day in the annals of U.S. history. The event contributed greatly to the Voting Rights Act becoming law on Aug. 6 of that year and forever entrenched Selma in the history books.
For Burt—the McWhorter Endowed Chair and head of the McWhorter School of Building Science in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction—that stretch of highway in Selma has sparked a passion project fueled by the desire to know more about what took place on that historic day.
“We consider this one of the most important historic sites in the United States,” Burt said. “When most people think about Bloody Sunday, they think about the bridge, but the actual conflict didn’t occur on the bridge. I don’t know if visitors who drive by there really get the historic significance of this.
“It is not just important to Alabama, it’s important to the whole U.S., and everyone in the world knows about Selma, Alabama. I think this site deserves some attention to tell its story and have its history chronicled in more detail.”
In 2016, Burt and his research team—which included Danielle Willkens, now an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology—began using historical photos and video footage, photogrammetry software, laser scanners, drones and design concepts and technology to survey and map the area where the confrontation occurred. Burt’s team has been able to identify and chart the location of everything from local businesses, vehicles parked on the road and Alabama State Troopers, to the civil rights marchers, spectators and media, including the ABC News van that captured the events as they unfolded.
Burt has been able to largely recreate the scene from 1965 in the form of schematics and computerized plans in a pursuit to preserve the setting of Bloody Sunday.
“I think the power of this project is that it started off using science on the survey and architecture side and is moving to the historical aspect going forward,” Burt said. “The fact that it’s interdisciplinary and everyone is working together speaks a lot to the importance of this area and the project in general.”
Burt’s project piqued the interest of Hébert from the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts in 2017, and the two began a partnership that gave the project added depth. Hébert echoes Burt’s sentiments regarding the significance of Bloody Sunday and the area they are researching.
“Selma is a very significant historic site, and when people all over the world hear the name Selma, Alabama, they think of human rights and voting rights,” said Hébert, an associate professor of history and public history program officer at Auburn. “The march from Selma to Montgomery in many ways is seen as one of the seminal turning points of the civil rights movement. Bloody Sunday helped generate more public support for the things the marchers were marching for, and it was a catalyst for change in getting the national opinion behind certain parts of the civil rights movement.
“People still come to Selma to look at the bridge and the monument and reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go, and the bridge is an excellent metaphor for that. This area we are researching was Ground Zero for the civil rights movement.”
Newest phase of research
Going forward, Burt, Hébert and their colleagues hope to use all the tools at their disposal to identify even more aspects of the scene in Selma on that day — most importantly the identities of the marchers. Some of the more prominent figures—including Lewis and Williams—have been identified through the years, but hundreds of other brave participants remain unrecognized.
The project was included in the university’s annual Tiger Giving Day initiative this year and raised over $8,000 to advance the venture through 2021 and beyond and identify the hundreds of marchers. They hope to do so through an alliance with Auburn’s Honors College, whose students will be tasked to identify the individuals who were part of Bloody Sunday.
Burt and his team have worked extensively with the Alabama Department of Archives and History, as well as with other historians, media and researchers to learn what they have thus far, and Burt said plans are in the works for a grant submission to fund an archeological endeavor and a K-12 education workshop. Donations made to the project through Tiger Giving Day could be a springboard to new discoveries for the talented team, and, as a result, give credence to the group’s desire to give the historic site its just due.
“Fortunately, several years ago, the National Park Service created a historic trail that links Selma to Montgomery along Highway 80, but a lot of buildings that were there in 1965 are in need of preservation,” Hébert said. “They need to be identified, catalogued and studied so we know exactly what happened, almost minute-by-minute, during the struggle in Selma.”
Importance of preserving history
From a big-picture standpoint, chronicling and researching history is a noble pursuit in the eyes and minds of academics, especially Burt and Hébert.
“It’s not an understatement to say that history is power,” Hébert said. “How we remember the past has meaning today because, in our society, we privilege some history and undermine other histories. For a long time, the history of Selma and the Edmund Pettus Bridge was undermined, to a certain degree. It was not necessarily forgotten but was kind of obscured.
“So, that’s what we’re here to do, to balance more the historical record and memory of how we look at the past. That brings us a little bit closer to a more just and equitable society.”
The project’s interdisciplinary aspect is especially appealing to the professors.
“Each of us bring our own unique perspective of how to approach a site like this,” Hébert said. “This is what Auburn, as a land-grant university, is supposed to be doing—coming out into the community and being engaged in civic-minded scholarship and applying our talents to bring resources to a community like Selma while enriching our own lives.”
In the end, Burt and his colleagues have one simple pursuit their considerable efforts are designed to achieve.
“We want to give names to the nameless,” Burt said.
Second-year students at Auburn’s Harrison School of Pharmacy administered more than 9,000 vaccinations as part of a new practice experience focusing on health and wellness.
As part of the pharmacy curriculum, students complete various rotations called Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences, or IPPEs. Last fall, second-year students completed a new 40-hour IPPE on health and wellness where students provided clinical services to patients within in the community pharmacy setting, focusing on immunizations, health screenings and patient counseling.
“The goal of the Health and Wellness IPPE was to provide students with opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and apply the skills they learn in the classroom in the experiential setting,” said Lena McDowell, assistant clinical professor and coordinator of introductory experiences.
“The rotation was strategically placed during the fall semester, assuring students would have abundant opportunities to provide immunizations and community pharmacists would receive support during the height of flu vaccination season.”
Students in the pharmacy Class of 2023 completed the rotation at 89 different community pharmacies located in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Most rotation sites were located near the Harrison School of Pharmacy, or HSOP, campuses in Auburn and Mobile.
Each year, students in the second year of the curriculum complete a workshop on vaccinations, culminating with a certificate in vaccine administration, allowing them to apply their skills in authentic patient encounters during the Health and Wellness IPPE.
“Pharmacists being one of the most accessible health care providers makes our role as vaccine advocates even more vital to the health and wellness of our local community,” said pharmacy student Alex Lassard.
In total, students administered 8,390 influenza, or flu, vaccines, 84 tetanus vaccines, 390 pneumonia vaccines and 370 shingles vaccines.
“As pharmacists, we have a valuable role in reducing the spread of preventable diseases, improving the health and wellness of our community and reducing health care costs,” said pharmacy student Tessie Runge.
Although foot traffic at community pharmacies has been affected during the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacy students were able to engage with patients through blood pressure and blood glucose screenings.
Pharmacy students completed 948 blood pressure screenings and 794 blood glucose screenings during the rotation. In addition to checking these screenings, students explained test results and reviewed educational handouts with each patient.
“This was very important because most of these people did not know they had high blood pressure or high blood sugar, so when we showed them and went over the importance of seeing their doctor they decided to go as soon as they could,” said pharmacy student Hannah Bricker. “When patients are referred after an abnormal value, this can prevent the patient from developing further complications and help them realize some lifestyle changes they could be making to improve their health.”
For many students, the opportunity to step out of the classroom and engage with patients was a welcome break from coursework, but also a reminder of the vital role community pharmacists play.
“My favorite part of the course was getting out into the community. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the textbooks and forget the real reason we are studying to be pharmacists, which is to improve the health and wellness of our patients,” said pharmacy student Hannah Lambert. “I enjoyed talking to patients and gaining confidence in vaccinating the community.”
The Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences is commemorating its 75th anniversary with a yearlong anniversary celebration, which began March 1.
In honor of this historic milestone, the school will showcase its alumni and significant teaching, research and extension achievements with a series of virtual and in-person events.
“During its 75-year history, Auburn has produced thousands of well-qualified graduates, provided citizens with science-based solutions to improve their quality of life and developed solutions to some of society’s most complex natural resource challenges,” Dean Janaki Alavalapati said.
“Our faculty and alumni have many reasons to be proud of the school’s impactful legacy of advancing forestry, wildlife and natural resources that extends well beyond the borders of our state and region.”
Since the 1800s, Auburn’s forestry program has synonymously evolved with the country’s growth.
In response to the increased demand for trained professionals to manage forests and timber operations, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama, now Auburn University, began teaching forestry courses as early as 1896.
However, it was not until 1946 that the College of Agriculture, at the time considered a school, recognized forestry as a standalone program in the Department of Horticulture and Forestry, and soon thereafter as the Department of Forestry in 1947.
With a greater need for a science-based foundation in forest management, the Department of Forestry continued to progress over the next three decades to become the School of Forestry in 1984.
In 1999, the school changed again by adding several wildlife faculty from the Department of Zoology and in that same year became what is now the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. With a steadily increasing number of faculty and students, the school constructed the state-of-the-art Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Building in 2005.
Since that time, the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, or SFWS, has experienced substantial growth, not only in terms of the number of students, staff and faculty, but also in the diverse array of new majors it has established to address the emerging needs of industry and government.
During the anniversary celebration year, the school will showcase the school’s diverse programs and alumni with a series of events, including a virtual speaker series titled “7 for 75.”
“Throughout the upcoming year, notable alumni and stakeholders will speak on a wide range of topics from land management, to current and future technology, to stakeholder engagement,” said Professor Becky Barlow, extension coordinator and co-chair of the school’s anniversary planning committee.
Two of the distinguished alumni participating this spring include Auburn alumna Lisa Hendy, chief ranger of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on March 25, and SFWS alumnus Adam Howard, director of Arbor Day Farm, who spoke on April 29.
Other guest speakers will provide first-hand historical accounts about the school’s milestones, including SFWS deans past and present. During these virtual roundtable discussions, the school will host breakout sessions for alumni to socialize and reminisce about their time at Auburn.
“Annual events such as the school’s student awards banquet, graduate research symposium and alumni homecoming barbeque will also be included in the celebration,” said Professor Mark Smith, extension specialist and committee co-chair.
The anniversary year will conclude with a signature gala in spring 2022.
Alavalapati said planning the yearlong celebration has been a considerable effort. “We are incredibly grateful to the committee members who have given their time to create a memorable year for the faculty, students and alumni,” he said.
Led by co-chairs Barlow and Smith, other members of the anniversary planning committee include SFWS alumni Glenn Glover 73, faculty emeritus, William Green ‘14, director of Alabama Treasure Forest Landowners Association, and Frank Walburn ‘79, senior vice president, Regions Bank Natural Resources and Real Estate Division, as well as several staff members.
In addition to the celebration events, the school will mark the anniversary with the publication of “75 Years of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University,” a chronicle of Auburn’s forestry and wildlife programs, written by Arthur L. Slotkin, an Auburn alum of the class of 1968 and author of eight books concerning the history of science and technology.
Visitors to the school’s website can purchase the book online and learn more about its history by perusing the interactive milestone timeline and photo archive. The school’s alumni and friends are invited to share memories of their college experience by submitting personal stories, photos and video, or other memorabilia through the online platform.
The alumni submissions will be added to the memory gallery and shared through social media during the anniversary celebration year.
A surprising problem is taking place in courtrooms across the country as the decline in the number of court reporters has resulted in a shortage. Also called stenographers, court reporters are the silent recordkeepers whose presence is required for nearly all legal proceedings. Using a stenotype machine, they transcribe dialogue in shorthand, creating words through key combinations rather than individual characters, to keep pace with fast-moving dialogue.
The court reporter shortage began over the last two decades with the decline in enrollment in court reporting schools. As longtime court reporters age into retirement, the number of new court reporters entering the field is disproportionately low. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of court reporters and simultaneous captioners is projected to grow 9% through 2029, more than two times faster than the average for all occupations. The field continues to grow outside of the courtroom as federal regulations require the use of captioning for television, internet and other technologies. While artificial intelligence may seem like a viable solution to accommodate the shortage, such technology cannot fully replace the presence and accuracy of the live court reporter.
The Office of Professional and Continuing Education , or OPCE, is meeting the demand of the industry by providing a Court Reporting Certificate Program, a self-paced, home study program designed to prepare students for careers in court reporting, closed captioning and Communications Access Realtime Translation, or CART). Students in the 18- to 24-month program learn theory (how to write on the steno machine), build speed to 225 wpm, learn computer aided transcription software, perform an internship and prepare for certification examinations.
“We have a dedicated support staff comprised of licensed, credentialed court reporters, captioners and CART providers, but what makes our program extraordinarily valuable is that we offer job placement support to every student who completes the program,” said Shavon Williams, OPCE assistant director for Outreach. Careers in court reporting, closed captioning and CART allow for flexibility in work environment and schedule. Individuals may work in private firms, for government agencies or from home. More information on the court reporting certificate program can be found on OPCE’s website at auburn.edu/outreach/opce/courtreporting.
Auburn University’s Kreher Preserve and Nature Center introduced two new workshop series to its annual program lineup: a nature art workshop series and a gardening workshop series.
“We are so excited to offer these new opportunities to the community,” said Michael Buckman, center manager. “In response to requests we have received over the years, we have been working hard to develop new workshops that offer great education to all ages.
“We have had a lot of interest in art classes and gardening classes, so when we found two amazing teachers for these topics, we jumped on the opportunity to extend that knowledge to our community with monthly workshops.” The gardening workshop, “In The Garden With Cyndi” taught by Cyndi Czerkawski, is for adults and meets each month on a Sunday afternoon. The first class was held 2-4 p.m. April 11, focusing on getting a garden prepped and ready for the spring growing season; the class includes seeds for attendees to take home.
“I believe gardening should be about the enjoyment of your gardens,” Czerkawski said. “You’ll get interesting lessons with tons of tips and tricks that make gardening fun and easy. Gardening is a passion for me, and my goal is for you to love gardening just as much.”
The second workshop series is the “Nature Art Series” taught by Heather Jackson for all ages. The class meets monthly on Saturdays.
“There is a wide variety of wildlife and plants to see, sketch and learn about,” Jackson said. “I have often envisioned bringing community together through creating art in nature, thus the idea for this ‘Nature Art Series’ was born. I believe everyone is a creative being, and creativity is a wonderful and powerful way to express oneself. You will learn some fascinating techniques and have fun creating your personal artwork.”
Dates, times and topics for upcoming workshops can be found on the Kreher Preserve and Nature Center’s website. The center is located at 2222 North College Street in Auburn.
Learning Spaces Saturday School, coordinated by the Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement, or CEOE, provided hands-on activities for middle school students. The program was held at Sunny Slope, home to OLLI at Auburn.
Learning Spaces activities included local field trips, sessions on character building, wellness, art, natural sciences, history, STEM, global awareness and other interesting topics.
This program is offered to the public free of charge courtesy of University Outreach. For information, contact Venus Hewing at 334-740-6175.
The Center for Educational Outreach and Engagement, or CEOE, recently launched Learning Spaces for middle school students from Lee and Chambers counties. According to Venus Hewing, who served as the program director, Learning Spaces is a Saturday school designed to expose students to the college experience during their formative years making them aware that they can achieve academic excellence beyond high school. The program also provided much needed social engagement and academic enrichment for students who were forced to learn remotely due to the pandemic.
Learning Spaces was held at Sunny Slope, home of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, Saturdays, March 13 -April 17, from 8:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. The curriculum included local field trips and interactive lessons on global awareness, history, health and wellness, science and character building. In addition to staff from CEOE and OLLI, the program was administered by a phenomenal group of student volunteers from Auburn University and other institutions of higher education.
Hewing likens Learning Spaces to the Village which entailed the collaboration between faculty, staff and students from CEOE, OLLI, Outreach Global, College of Science and Mathematics, Truman Piece Institute, School of Nursing, College of Liberal Arts, Campus Kitchens, Auburn AME Zion Church and Esperanza House.
In addition to Learning Spaces, CEOE, in collaboration with campus and community constituents, will continue to provide future programs focusing on college access and the academic and social enrichment of students K-12 and families within surrounding communities.
Research at Auburn University that might one day expand the output of batteries and fuel cells is being furthered using a new X-ray device that is the only one of its kind in the state of Alabama.
College of Sciences and Mathematics, or COSAM, professors Ryan Comes, the Thomas and Jean Walter Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics, and Byron Farnum, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, have worked together for three years on research for nextgeneration materials for electronic and energy applications at Auburn. Now, they are bringing world-class X-ray diffraction instrumentation to the state of Alabama for the first time.
A $280,487 grant with cost-sharing of $120,000 has enabled Auburn to add a Rigaku SmartLab X-Ray Diffraction, or XRD, instrument for core research through the Major Research Instrumentation program from the National Science Foundation, or NSF.
The real-world impact of this instrumentation has direct applications to electronic materials and renewable energy, including perhaps expanding the output batteries and fuel cells, which is a prime area of focus of Farnum’s research. The equipment—located in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry building—can scatter X-rays off atoms in a crystal, providing detailed measurements of atomic structure with impressive rapid-data acquisition.
“No other instrument in the entire state of Alabama has such finely tuned resolution designed for materials research,” Farnum said.
That capability means that researchers can precisely measure the properties of ultrathin materials less than 100 atoms thick, materials that Farnum and Comes routinely study in their research. The new instrumentation allows all X-ray scattering experiments, including powder diffraction, thin films metrology, smallangle X-ray scattering, in-plane scattering and microdiffraction, with data collected from those experiments directly influencing the professors’ research.
The elite machine uses a three-kilowatt anode X-ray generator, which is optimal for advanced thin film measurements. The SmartLab Guidance software aids the user in both alignments and setup, and the high-temperature measurements with a heated stage can exceed 1,000 degrees Celsius.
The system also is equipped with a unique battery cell attachment to study how materials used for energy storage transform when they charge and discharge.
“It is critical for COSAM to make these kinds of investments that provide state-of-the-art instrumentation to enhance the research capabilities of our faculty and students,” said Edward Thomas Jr., professor and associate dean for research and graduate studies. “We are very proud of the hard work that our faculty did to bring this new X-ray diffraction instrumentation to Auburn University.”
This interdisciplinary partnership includes Auburn’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering with Masoud Mahjouri-Samani and Peng Li from Electrical and Computer Engineering; Tae-Sik Oh from Chemical Engineering; and Majid Beidaghi from Materials Engineering. Along with Farnum, Oh and Beidaghi are part of the Auburn energy research cluster, while Comes, Li and Mahjouri- Samani are part of the university’s emerging quantum research initiative.
“The battery testing capability of this instrument is a crucial tool to support our effort to develop the next generation of batteries here at Auburn,” Beidaghi said.
The award includes a broader impact with other institutions throughout the state benefitting from the use of the equipment. It will be available for academic and industrial use by outside researchers by contacting either Comes or Farnum, and the Auburn professors plan to use the device for a variety of research projects in the coming years.
Summer undergraduate researchers in the NSF-funded Collaborative Approaches among Scientists and Engineers program also will perform research projects on the system each year.
“Auburn University is emerging in the thin-films materials research realm,” said Comes, winner of the 2020 Air Force Young Investigator Award and 2021 National Science Foundation Career Award. “This instrumentation will help COSAM and Auburn University make a tremendous impact through next-generation materials while training future scientists and engineers in this interdisciplinary research field.”
Mike Phillips has been named director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the primary outreach organization for Alabama A&M and Auburn universities, both of which are land-grant institutions with the mission of providing real-life solutions and helping improve the lives of all Alabamians.
Phillips began March 1 with the joint system —referenced generally as Alabama Extension—which was created in 1995 when the universities’ Extension programs were combined.
“What an exciting time for Alabama Extension as it continues to reinvent itself to meet the needs of Alabama citizens,” Alabama A&M President Andrew Hugine Jr. said. “The Extension director stands at the crossroad that integrates and interprets academia and research for common people, while confronting state, national and global demands that impact our society every day.
“Dr. Phillips’ professional background enables him to shape Alabama Extension’s future. We look forward to his leadership and wish him well.”
Auburn President Jay Gogue echoes that sentiment.
“Dr. Phillips has a tremendous background and the excellent leadership skills needed to meet the everchanging role of Extension, both in rural and urban areas,” Gogue said. “We are excited about his ability to improve the lives of Alabamians through both land-grant institutions, as he builds upon the great work of his predecessors, like Dr. [Gary] Lemme.”
Phillips succeeds former Director Lemme, who is retiring after 10 years.
The Alabama Extension director reports jointly to both presidents and is responsible for providing leadership to more than 700 faculty and staff on both campuses and in all 67 Alabama counties.
“It is truly a high honor to be selected to serve in this capacity,” Phillips said. “The opportunity to lead in making the state a better place is very special, and I am passionate about it. Our Extension professionals are here to enhance citizens’ livelihoods and make communities a better place to live and work.”
Phillips, an agronomy professor, has served since 2018 as Alabama Extension assistant director for agriculture, forestry and natural resource programs and as associate dean in Auburn’s College of Agriculture.
“The ongoing pandemic has taught us so many things, such as being flexible in how we deliver information, utilizing virtual platforms to reach audiences and working with our many stakeholders in continuing to extend valuable information to Alabamians.”
Phillips adds that collaboration with the stakeholders — local, state and federal entities, as well as private partners — has created vast improvements in many areas, such as youth development, human nutrition and well-being, agriculture, forestry and natural resources.
Paul Patterson, dean of Auburn’s College of Agriculture, chaired the statewide, interinstitutional search committee that included representatives from both Auburn and Alabama A&M.
“Dr. Phillips has been excellent in his role as associate dean for Extension in the College of Agriculture, and I know he’ll be excellent as Alabama Extension director,” Patterson said. “He brings a wealth of experience not only in Extension leadership, but also in academics and research at Auburn and other land-grant institutions.
“Agriculture is a vital part of the programming that Alabama Extension offers statewide. We look forward to working closely with Dr. Phillips and his team as he begins his new role.”
Phillips says education has great meaning to his family.
“My parents were working-class people, often working two jobs each,” Phillips said. “I am one of those first-generation college graduates. I take great pride in that by saying my parents knew and valued education at every level. My wife, June, is an incredibly strong supporter of the value of education. “In Extension, we teach every day — it’s just that it may be on a turnrow or in a hayfield or forest. There are many examples, but we make the difference in livelihoods every day in very impactful ways.”
Prior to joining Alabama Extension and the Auburn faculty, Phillips was head of Mississippi State University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. His career also includes the role of chair of the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Kentucky’s Morehead State University. He began his career at the University of Arkansas Southwest Research and Extension Center in Hope, Arkansas, where he was director and professor.
Phillips, a native of Benton, Arkansas, earned a master’s degree and doctorate in agronomy in 1982 and 1985, respectively, at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1980 from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, majoring in agriculture.
LEAN improvement is anchored in activities designed to make any process more effective and more efficient. While most people relate LEAN improvement to the manufacturing industry, its professional and personal applications extend to a variety of settings. In fact, opportunities for LEAN improvement are everywhere and increasing personal productivity is no exception.
In a recent edition of EagleCast, the monthly webinar series presented by the Office of Professional and Continuing Education, LEAN subject matter expert Phillip A. Chansler, revealed strategies for developing a LEAN improvement-based plan to achieve personal goals effectively and efficiently by applying the LEAN concept of removing wastes, the inefficiencies that distract us and detract from results in virtually anything we do.
THE SEVEN WASTES OF LEAN
Applying LEAN concepts to produce personal results.
Producing more than what is needed, or taking on too many projects at one time results in over-production.
Waiting results in wasted time; use this time to complete smaller tasks or making a check list.
Moving information via email or text; avoid constructing lengthy messages by addressing one topic at a time.
- OVER PROCESSING
Occurs with multi-tasking; completing one task before moving onto the next helps ensure consistency in the process.
- EXCESS INVENTORY
Anything more than is needed to get the job done; for example, taking on multiple projects can inhibit the completion of a single project.
Wasted physical or mental movement that often occurs by getting sidetracked; implement strategies to avoid distractions.
Anything that is not done correctly the first time; simplify the process and use a checklist to ensure tasks are completed without error.
Remove the seven wastes identified by LEAN to increase personal productivity.
The seven wastes considered in LEAN improvement include over-production, waiting, transportation, overprocessing, excess inventory, motion and defects.
Over-production involves producing more than what is needed. When applied to personal productivity, over-production can include taking on too many projects before current projects are completed.
Waiting essentially results in wasted time and can be mitigated by doing something productive with that time. Chansler recommends filling this time with tasks that include planning, organizing or list-making.
Transportation, from a personal perspective, includes the movement of information, something often done through email or text. Reducing the length of emails by addressing a single issue at a time can increase productivity by 20%.
An example of over-processing is multitasking, which slows thought and increases opportunity for error. By working on one task at a time and implementing a consistent process, waste from over-processing can be eliminated.
Excess inventory includes anything more than what is needed. For example, taking on too many projects at once results in additional effort needed to manage multiple projects and can inhibit the completion of a single project. Chansler’s recommendation is to identify an optimum number of projects or tasks that can be reasonably managed at one time and completing one before taking on another.
Motion includes wasted physical or mental movement, which often occurs by getting sidetracked. Checking social media while attempting to produce work on the computer is one example. Setting aside dedicated time for these distractions can lessen this type of waste.
Finally, examples of waste involved with defects include anything that is not done correctly the first time. Simplifying processes and creating checklists are two strategies for reducing waste from defects. Generating waste is inherent to human behavior, but, as Chansler revealed, such waste can be reduced by applying LEAN concepts to our personal lives, making us more effective and efficient in what we do.
Chansler has over 40 years specializing in engineering, operations and education curriculum development and instruction working with the United States Air Force and Department of Defense. Most recently, he developed and leads Lean Operating Culture and Practice, an OPCE online certificate program for individuals in the service and manufacturing industries. For more information on Lean Operating Culture and Practice visit auburn.edu/opce/glti.
If you would like more strategies for applying LEAN concepts to increase personal productivity, access the complete EagleCast webinar free of charge by visiting auburn.edu/opce/webinarseries. The EagleCast webinar series is presented each month by the Office of Professional and Continuing Education and features experts from a variety of sectors, including education, business, industry, public service and finance. The series, offered free of charge, presents information and skills essential for navigating today’s ever-changing world.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Auburn University, or OLLI at Auburn, is looking forward to in-person classes. During the fall of 2021, in addition to offering the usual rich variety of not-for-credit classes ranging from creative writing to history to line dancing, OLLI will offer its members a set of classes focused on the wilderness of Alabama.
Thanks to generous grants from the F. Allen and Louise K. Turner Foundation, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, as well as donations from members and friends during Tiger Giving Day, OLLI will also bring to Auburn writers, poets, musicians, scientists and historians for a focused series of public talks, workshops and special events titled, “Wild Alabama.” Participants will explore Alabama’s wilderness areas through the lenses of natural history, history, arts and humanities, politics, law and outdoor recreation.
OLLI at Auburn is a member organization that enriches the lives of senior adults by providing opportunities to engage with ideas, fellow participants and the community. There is no homework and no grades–just the fun of discovering the world we live in with your fellow learners. To find out about OLLI programs, membership and scholarships, visit OLLI’s website at auburn.edu/outreach/olliatauburn or call 334-844-3146.
COVID-19 forced organizations to adapt to innovative ways of doing international work. As a result, Outreach Global created new, practical virtual programs aimed at enhancing cross-culture learning and understanding while bringing international experiences to students, faculty, staff and global partners. Outreach Global launched two unique virtual programs to meet the critical need for online transformational programs that fill the void created by the pandemic.
The first programs are GlobalConnect Virtual Education and Cultural Immersion Programs in Nursing and Pharmacy — nursing and pharmacy programs are developed in partnership with the Auburn University School of Nursing, Harrison School of Pharmacy and their respective counterparts in Ghana and Botswana. These programs are designed to expose learners to nursing and pharmacy practices in the aforementioned countries.
According to Allison Chung, associate clinical professor of pharmacy practice, “The virtual program will focus on the discussion on global health, health related differences and challenges of different countries, and the role of alternative medications in various countries.”
“The goal is to engage with our partners and learn more about their health systems and some of the best practices we can learn from each other, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic era,” said Director of Outreach Global Elizabeth I. Quansah. “Participants will also embark on virtual cultural immersion tours during the program.”
GlobalConnect Virtual High School Camp is another program created by Outreach Global. Partnering with selected high schools in African countries, the camp aims to expose students to current affairs in the areas of culture, geography, history, health, food and technological activities.
The Outreach Global office hopes that these two innovative virtual programs will offer students, faculty and global partners opportunities to enhance their multicultural learning and international experiences, while also implementing some of the best practices and reaffirming Auburn’s commitment to global partners in our new normal.
For additional information, visit http://www.auburn.edu/outreach/global/.
The Auburn University School of Nursing has created a commemorative book, featuring stories from some of its alumni who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The free book, “Auburn Nursing — Living the Creed During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” can be ordered online at the Auburn University Bookstore. Limited quantities are available, and a shipping fee will be applied at checkout.
The initial idea for the book came about as the school was marking its 40th anniversary during the 2019-20 school year. As nurses around the country were thrust onto the front lines of the COVID-19 response, the school began to hear stories of its alumni facing the unimaginable. They reached out for more, and the book was born.
Dean Gregg Newschwander writes in the book foreword how “a far-off disease arrived and changed everything for everyone overnight” and Auburn nurses—veteran nurses, new graduates and current students—rose to the challenge, putting themselves in harm’s way to do their jobs.
They “answered the call to serve on the front lines, at the epicenters and in rural communities. They worked in their hometowns, they deployed to where they were needed most. They cared for every patient population—newborns, homeless people, the elderly and inmates. They ensured supply chains. They researched potential vaccines. They were terrified and exhausted; determined and resilient. They became patients themselves. They lost family, friends and coworkers.”
Whitney Burford Bisland, a 2004 alumna, wasn’t one of the health care workers who flew to New York City to help; she already lived there.
“I will always remember...,” she wrote, “the two babies I delivered in front of the hospital because their moms were too scared of COVID to come earlier.”
Cortney Black, a 2016 Auburn alumna, got permission from her emergency room in Anniston, Alabama, to spend 21 days in New York. “I felt a lot of heartache and a lot of sadness, but I also felt more compassion, more unity, more kindness than ever before.”
Ross Nickoley, a 1994 alumnus, doesn’t work or live in New York or anywhere close to a big city. For those people served by the small critical access hospital in rural Winamac, Indiana, “we are the front line. I am the sole CRNA for this community, and my world changed the second week of March,” he said.
Lauren Agee, a 2020 alumna, works as an oncology nurse at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, one of the major sites treating COVID-19 in Atlanta. She recalled the day she was talking on the phone with the mother of a 20-year-old who had to be emergently intubated, while holding the hand of “a dying elderly woman because you promised her husband of 60-plus years you wouldn’t let her die alone. You secretly are praying she holds out for a few more days until the morgue has more space.”
Newschwander said the stories illustrate the difficulty and harsh reality of an overwhelming situation.
“At Auburn, we often say, we make leaders,” he said. “In this book, you will see how true that is.
“The individual reflections tell the universal story of Auburn nurses living the Auburn Creed during this historic time.”
The Master of Community Planning, or MCP, Program, housed in the Political Science Department of the College of Liberal Arts, or CLA, is committed to engaging with underserved communities throughout Alabama and the Southeast through outreach, teaching and engaged research. By working on community projects, students learn to help communities create and implement plans that improve and protect quality of life, history, social capital, culture, diversity, resource base, built and natural environment, and economic vitality.
In spring 2021, the Urban Design Studio, instructed by Binita Mahato, worked with the Auburn Corridor Investment Group, or ACIG, to redevelop Auburn’s Martin Luther King, or MLK, Drive corridor adjacent to the Auburn neighborhood. The Urban Design Studio offers a wide range of knowledge bases and skillsets essential to urban designers through a studio-lecture format. Students learn Urban Design theories, concepts, elements, standards, measures, and processes and apply them by working with real communities.
ACIG is a group of residents and stakeholders who aim to provide leadership, vision and resources for quality economic development along the MLK corridor while preserving the historical significance and contribution of Auburn’s oldest African American community. ACIG works closely with and advises the city of Auburn on economic opportunities and issues impacting the MLK corridor including, but not limited to, infrastructure improvements, development, investment, communication and marketing.
The spring 2021 Urban Design Studio served as a platform to assist ACIG in developing an Urban Design Concept Plan for the MLK corridor. Each student in the studio was tasked to design a unique plan that complies with the purposes, goals and objectives of ACIG. The plans provide an overall concept of the short-term and long-term designs and developments along the corridor for economic development, historic preservation, walkability, social activities and connectivity.
The studio followed a six-step design process which started with sensing the project area through site visits, observing and collecting data and information of the site and surrounding area, and mapping and documenting people, places and phenomena. The next step was synthesizing the collected data, which was followed by theorizing goals, objectives, mission, vision and values for the corridor. The next step included analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and spatial development potential of the corridor. Making rational designs and implementation strategies through drawings, illustrations, plans and texts was the next stage of the process. The final step was communicating proposed plans through writing, illustrations, speaking and presenting.
Students presented their work in an informal poster session open house to the ACIG members Olivia Cook and Eric Zellars, city of Auburn staff members, Vice President for University Outreach and Associate Provost Royrickers Cook, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Joseph Aistrup, Department of Political Science Chair Paul Harris and MCP faculty.
The student’s work will be showcased on the Liquid Galaxy Display at RBD Library’s Innovation and Research Commons intermittently during the 2021-2022 academic year.
Starting and running a small business has many challenges. Entrepreneurs and small business often lack support and expertise needed to bring ideas to life or market them effectively. Auburn University Outreach’s Government and Economic Development Institute, or GEDI, through an Economic Development Agency University Center grant, is offering creative support services such as branding, product packaging and prototype development to student and community startups. In addition to providing much-needed services to the startup businesses, GEDI is employing students to assist and get real-world experience while they are in college.
Brandon Stephens is a senior in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction majoring in Industrial Design. He also is a student design assistant for GEDI working out of the New Venture Accelerator in Auburn’s Research Park. In this space, he works side-by-side with entrepreneurs, but he also works virtually with small businesses all over the state.
“The process starts with entrepreneurs submitting an online form that details their needs,” Stephens explained. “I then reach out to them to set up a meeting, either in person or virtually, to get more information and discuss ideas.”
After the initial meeting, Stephens gets to work bringing ideas to life. Whether he is designing a logo, a product label or even the user interface of an app, he focuses on the end goal of helping the business achieve success.
Stephens is managing a full class load and working 20 hours a week for GEDI. Currently, he has seven projects in development for entrepreneurs and startup businesses.
“It’s a busy schedule, and I work hard to manage expectations of clients and get the jobs done. Communication is key. I’m always giving them updates,” Stephens said.
Although his schedule may be more hectic than some students, Stephens is glad to make connections and gain experience. “The work encourages me as a designer to use every tool at my disposal. It’s easy to get stuck using the same programs and skill sets in the classroom. Working with these startup businesses is increasing my knowledge and experience, and the entrepreneurs have been pleased with the work we are doing for them,” Stephens said.
“GEDI provides these services to small businesses and entrepreneurs through a Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, or EDA, University Center grant,” said David Mixson, GEDI’s associate director and EDA University Center director. “Auburn’s EDA University Center program is a partnership among the Government and Economic Development Institute, the Harbert College of Business and the Office of External Engagement. Our cross disciplinary approach enables the center to broaden its mission and strengthen Alabama’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Marsha Peters, supervisor in the Office of Professional and Continuing Education, or OPCE, retired after 34 years of service. She joined Auburn’s staff in 1987 before transferring to OPCE in 1991, where she provided administrative support in the role of finances, payroll, human resources and general office proceedings. Peters, a lifelong resident of Auburn, will continue to enjoy living in the loveliest village on the plains and looks forward to spending time with her family and grandchildren.
Hayley White joined the Office of Professional and Continuing Education in March as a program developer for Auburn Youth Programs, or AYP. She received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Alabama in 2018 and has since served in various capacities in youth programming. In her role with AYP, White works with campus partners to coordinate academic learning camps and programs..
William Illiano, outgoing president of the Campus Kitchen at Auburn, was selected as one of the 2021 recipients of the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Each year, Auburn bestows the honor on a faculty member, one male student and one female student. The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award has been presented at Auburn since 1951 as a reminder of the noblest human qualities exemplified by Algernon Sydney Sullivan, a prominent humanitarian and first president of the New York Southern Society, now the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation. Illiano served as president of Campus Kitchen and is a musician playing saxophone in Auburn’s Marching Band and saxophone jazz band. Illiano is a biomedical science major and plans to attend medical school following graduation from Auburn. Campus Kitchen at Auburn is sponsored by the Office of Public Service.
During the 2021 Involvement Awards, Campus Kitchen received The Fred and Charlene Kam Human Touch Service Award given to the organization that displays philanthropic and community service activities exemplifying the power of the “human touch.” This award recognizes organizations that enhance the student experience, are innovative in their philanthropic and community service activities, and fulfill the organization’s mission. Despite facing unprecedented COVID-19 related restrictions and challenges over the past year, Campus Kitchen at Auburn continued to focus on their mission of reducing food waste and addressing food insecurity. The organization collected more than 700 pounds of leftover food from dining facilities and distributed more than 600 meals to those in need weekly. Campus Kitchen at Auburn is sponsored by the Office of Public Service.
Hollie C. Cost has been named assistant vice president for University Outreach and Public Service in Auburn’s division of University Outreach. Cost was recommended by a search committee after a national search. Cost served as professor of special education and head of the Service-Learning program at the University of Montevallo, as well as two terms as mayor of the city of Montevallo and two terms as a Montevallo city council member.
“Hollie Cost is a highly respected scholar, university administrator and public official who brings together extensive expertise, insight and leadership skills for promoting the community engagement and outreach mission of the university,” said Royrickers Cook, vice president for University Outreach. “She has an outstanding record as an educator and engaged scholar, combined with a very successful tenure as mayor, contributing to her dynamic base of experience in developing university and community collaborative initiatives. I’m looking forward to Dr. Cost joining our University Outreach team and bringing her executive and leadership skills to her new role as assistant vice president.”
A lifelong Alabamian, Cost is a three-time Auburn graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in rehabilitation and special education-behavioral disorders. Before her position at the University of Montevallo, Cost worked in the Auburn area in mental health and special education roles in the Lee County school system, East Alabama Mental Health and Lee County Youth Development Center, at Auburn University as a graduate teaching and research assistant and assistant director of the Summer Clinic program and later as assistant professor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. At the University of Montevallo, Cost was professor of special education and responsible for program coordination, assessment and accreditation activities in the department. During her tenure, she launched the university’s Service-Learning Program and developed two major civic engagement initiatives, Falcon Scholars in Action, a community outreach program with Shelby County non-profit agencies engaging university students and the Montevallo Connection initiative which promoted collaboration between the university and the city’s public schools.
Cost’s community engagement and advocacy extended beyond campus to civic leadership, in which she served for more than 16 years as an elected Montevallo city council member and mayor. In her two terms as mayor, she was responsible for all municipal operations including budget management, direct supervision of ten department heads, infrastructure maintenance and improvements, and overall promotion of civic engagement, social equity and inclusivity for citizens. During her administration she initiated a Students’ Institute, Junior City Council and a comprehensive recycling program among several other city-wide initiatives.
A graduate of Leadership Alabama and Leadership Shelby County, Cost has received a number of educational, municipal and civic engagement certifications from the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama League of Municipalities and Auburn’s Community and Civic Engagement Imagining America Institute. She has a comprehensive record of disciplinary research, grant acquisition, publication and presentation across her special education, civic engagement and community development dossier. Among her many notable scholarly and public recognitions, Cost was named a Kettering Foundation Research Fellow, Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Humanitarian of the Year, received the Alabama Main Street Hero Award, Gulf-South Summit Outstanding Service-Learning Collaboration Award and Auburn’s Academy for Civic Professionalism Alumni Award. She has been active in community service at both the local and state level including board service with the Shelby County Chamber, Alabama Environmental Commission, Alabama League of Municipalities, Montevallo Sister City Commission and many other initiatives.
As assistant vice president for University Outreach and Public Service, Cost will have responsibilities for a number of administrative, strategic and programmatic assignments in the division, including development of service-learning and community engagement initiatives, maintenance of Auburn’s Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification and oversight of the Office of Public Service which promotes faculty, student and staff engagement through community and institutional partnerships.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a dynamic team committed to outreach across Alabama and beyond,” said Cost. “I’m looking forward to forging even deeper connections between the university and the community to elevate opportunities for all Alabamians and broaden the civic horizons of our students.”
Last Updated: July 9, 2021