Texas Tech University

2022 President's Engaged Scholarship Awards

The Offices of the President, Provost, and Associate Vice Provost for University Outreach and Engagement are pleased to announce the Recipients of the 2022 President's Engaged Scholarship Awards. These awards recognize Texas Tech faculty for an exemplary and sustainable engaged scholarship project or activity that addresses an important community need and/or discovers solutions to larger societal issues based on mutually beneficial partnerships with communities. The winning project/activity shows evidence of significant impact on communities/society, as well as teaching and learning, research and creative activity, and scholarship. It carries a monetary prize of $2,000.

This year, University Outreach and Engagement recognized a total of four projects with the President's Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award in the following categories:

  • Excellence in Engaged Service 
  • Excellence in Engaged Teaching 
  • Excellence in Engaged Creative Activity
  • Excellence in Engaged Research

The following are descriptions of each winning project: 

"Clinical Programs of the School of Law"

 Excellence in Engaged Service

defenders office

The TTU School of Law's Clinical Programs have, for the past 21 years, worked collaboratively with community partners to provide legal and professional services at no cost to those who would otherwise be financially unable to obtain such services. As a means of measurably increasing access to the legal system and the protection of basic human rights, collaborative partnerships have been developed between the Clinical Programs and various non-profit organizations and governmental entities to advance access to justice through leveraging additional resources for addressing the unmet need for services while, at the same time, providing experiential learning opportunities for law students.  Each of these clinics provides meaningful access to the courts and promotes more equitable treatment in the civil and criminal legal systems in Texas.  Students gain practical skills training under the close supervision of faculty.  In addition, participation in the Clinical Programs instills in law students a commitment to public service throughout their professional careers.  

TTU Faculty Leaders:

  •  Larry Spain, Professor of Law
  • Patrick Metze, Professor of Law
  • Dwight McDonald, Professor of Law
  • Terry Morgeson, Professor of Law
  • Donnie Yandell, Professor of Law
  • Wendy Tolson Ross, Professor of Law
  • Alison Clayton, School of Law
  • Gene Valentini, School of Law
  • Marya Lujan, School of Law
  • Nancy Mojica, School of Law
  • Elma Moreno, School of Law
  • Lori Obando, School of Law 

Community Partners: 

  • Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas
  • Coalition of Community Assistance Volunteers
  • Office of Dispute Resolution
  • Texas Indigent Defense Commission
  • Lubbock Private Defenders Office
"STEM Explorers Program"

Excellence in Engaged Teaching

Stem explorers program

The STEM Explorers Program started in Lubbock during the spring semester of 2019 as a disciplinary alternative education program within Lubbock ISD with six students as a STEM/robotics education and behavioral intervention and has grown to include six sites in the spring of 2022.  It explicitly incorporates social and emotional learning and cognitive behavioral techniques and strategies to support students beyond the STEM content. There has been marked improvements in student behavior, attitudes toward school, academic achievement, and future interest in both STEM and education. The program also provides undergraduate students, many studying to become teachers themselves, with an opportunity not found in many courses.

TTU Faculty Leader: 

Dr. Daniel Kelly, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction, TTU College of Education

Community Partners: 

  • Lubbock Independent School District
  • High Point Village 
"Voices from the Vernacular Music Center: A Podcast in Communtiy Arts and Education"

Excellence in Engaged Creative Activity

Music Center

Voices from the Vernacular Music Center (VVMS) is a podcast that consists of 30 1-hour episodes about the various ways, diverse reasons, and impacts of people sharing music, dance, and culture. The project highlights how inclusive, collaborative, regionally and culturally informed programing creates high-quality, accessible resources for learners, teachers, and communities.

The project draws upon intellectual and human resources from across and beyond the Texas Tech system and the regions of the Southwest. The VMC has long-standing professional and organizational relationships with a range of advocacy organizations such as Balfolk, Lubbock, Roots Music Institute, the Country Dance and Song Society, the International Bagpipe Conference, and other international programs. All 30 episodes are available for all persons to stream for free.

TTU Faculty Leaders:

Dr. Christopher Smith, Professor and Director of the Vernacular Music Center, School of Music, J.T. and Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts

Dr. Roger Landes, Professor of Practice & Associate Director of the Vernacular Music Center, School of Music, J.T. and Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts

Community Partners:

Balfolk Lubbock

Roots Music Institute

"Community Engagement Through Coral Reef Research Initiatives"

Excellence in Engaged Research

coral reef research

Coral reefs are vital to healthy marine ecosystems but are in serious decline due to pollution, global warming, and other threats. This decline also has serious ecological consequences to communities that rely on tourism to coral reefs as a central source of income. To address this threat, Dr. Stephanie Lockwood, Department of Biological Sciences at TTU at Waco began a multinational, study abroad undergraduate research program to engage students in coral reef research. In partnership with McLennan Community College and several Honduran organizations including the Roatan Institute for Marine Science and Roatan Marine Park, this initiative allows students to take an active hand in research and conservation, connecting the ocean to the classroom. This initiative aims to promote safe and sustainable means to preserve the rehabilitate the coral reefs in Honduras, as well as to help enrich the lives of the island youth.

TTU Faculty Leader:

Dr. Stephanie Lockwood, Associate Professor of Practice, Dept. of Biological Sciences, TTU College of Arts and Sciences

Community Partners:

McLennan Community College

Roatan Institute for Marine Science

Roatan Marine Park

SOL: International Foundation


The President's Emerging Engaged Scholarship Award recognizes TTU faculty for a relatively new project or initiative that demonstrates high potential for the advancement of engaged scholarship. The project or initiative shows outstanding promise for having a significant impact on communities and the university. It carries a monetary prize of $1,000 and recognizes one faculty-led project or initiative.

"Mental Health Screening and Prevention within Elementary Schools"


An estimated 12 to 22% of children and adolescents meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder, and rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation/behavior among this age group have been rising sharply group over the last decade. Emerging evidence also suggests that the last two years of the global pandemic have taken a further toll on youth's mental health. The unfortunate reality is that upwards of 50% of youth in need do not receive services, and of those that do, 50% terminate treatment early. Taken together, there is a pressing need for novel approaches to mental health screening as well as prevention and intervention. Dr. John Cooley, a clinical child psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences developed partnerships with two elementary schools in Frenship Independent School District in April 2021. Following several meetings with school administrators, they developed a comprehensive, evidence-based child and teacher assessment to identify the mental health needs of the students in the third through fifth grade.

Based on the assessment results, the team is now providing a group-based preventive intervention for these students lasting through April 2022. The plan is to continue and build on this work throughout the 2022-2023 school year. The program also provides opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to develop research skills and learn strategies for developing and maintaining effective community partnerships.

TTU Faculty Leader:

Dr. John Cooley, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences

Community Partners:

Frenship Independent School District

North Ridge Elementary School

Willow Bend Elementary School

President's Exemplary Program Award

The President's Exemplary Program Award recognizes TTU faculty for projects demonstrating outstanding academic engagement and commitment to addressing a community need or larger social issue. The award recognizes the program's impacts on both the community and the university (faculty, staff, or students).

"Texas Education Policy Fellowship Program (TX-EPFP)"


Three TTU faculty members, Drs. Rebecca Hite, Jessica Gottlieb, and Jon McNaughtan, over three years have designed and implemented a nine-month in-depth community-engaged 
service program that recruits and professionally develops cohorts of mid-level leaders from across the state of Texas. The mission of the EPFP nationally and here at the Texas site is to expand participants' knowledge of education policy, develop fellows' situated skills in advocacy-based leadership, and help them cultivate new networks and connections among policy scholars, equity experts, and community leaders in education. Upon graduation, fellows are equipped, empowered, and engaged in improving problems of policy and practice in P-20 Texan education and beyond. 

TTU Faculty Leaders: 

  • Dr. Rebecca Hite, College of Education, Educational Psychology, Leadership, & Counseling
  • Dr. Jessica Gottlieb, College of Education, Educational Psychology, Leadership, & Counseling
  • Dr. Jon McNaughtan, College of Education, Educational Psychology, Leadership, & Counseling

Community Partners: 

  • Mid-Level P-20 Texas Educators


Outreach & Engagement