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Spring 2018


A Newsletter from the Office of Outreach and Engagement*

*formerly 'Academic Engagement'
The Raiders Engaged Results for Academic Year 2017 are in!

Thank you to all TTU faculty and academic staff who participated in the Raiders Engaged assessment for Academic Year 2017 and reported on their community outreach and engagement projects and activities. Now in its eighth year, the annual assessment continues to provide important information in support of the institution's strategic goals for outreach and engagement.

The number of projects reported by TTU faculty and staff for AY'17 increased by 30% - from 732 to 952. Reported funding generated from outreach and engagement projects reached a record $55.19M, which represents a 40% increase compared to AY’16.  A total of 1,051,817 individuals from communities in all 50 U.S. states and 89 countries were impacted by the university’s engagement activities. This represents an 11% increase compared to data reported in AY'16.  The number of K-12 students and teachers impacted by outreach and engagement dropped by 5% to 386,949 compared to the previous academic year.

Partnerships with individuals, business and industry, K-12 schools, non-profit agencies, government agencies, civic groups, or other organizations are at the core of university-community engagement.  During AY’17 TTU faculty, staff, and students were involved in a total of 1,271 such partnerships. This number represents a 50% increase in partnerships compared to AY’16.

The data collection for AY'18 outreach and engagement activities via Raiders Engaged will begin in early May, and faculty and staff have until December 1, 2018 to report their projects and community partnerships. 

Populations Served by TTU Outreach and Engagement Projects and Activities
(Source: Raiders Engaged AY' 17 Results)

President’s Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Awards Program - Faculty Are Invited to Apply by March 15, 2018!

The Offices of the President, Provost, and Associate Vice President for Outreach and Engagement are pleased to announce a new awards program to publicly recognize and reward individual TTU faculty and teams of faculty from all disciplines who demonstrate exemplary and sustained commitment to engagement with community partners.  Recognized faculty apply their teaching, research, or creative activity to address a significant community need or larger social issue, trying to find solutions that may improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. They actively collaborate with members of the community (locally, statewide, nationally, or globally), regarding them as equal partners in the process, sharing knowledge and expertise, and working together to generate new knowledge for the mutual benefit of both the community and the university.

The award recognizes the depth and scope of the university-community partnerships as well as the resulting positive impacts on the community and on faculty scholarship (i.e. professional presentations, peer-reviewed publications, studies of partnerships, documentation of community response to engagement, and other assessments that are shared with academic and non-academic audiences). 

The award carries a monetary prize of $2,500 and recognizes up to two faculty-led engaged scholarship projects or initiatives.  Funds may go to an individual or a project team.  Faculty will be recognized during the annual Faculty Honors Convocation to be held on April 18, from 3:30 until 5:00 p.m.  Applications are being accepted through March 15, 2018.  For application guidelines and submissions, please log into Texas Tech Competition Space at

For further questions, please contact Birgit Green, Director of Outreach and Engagement, at or (806)834-2308. 
A Workshop for TTU Faculty and Academic Staff!

“Engaged Scholarship and Higher Education: Broader Impacts through Community Engagement”

Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Session 1: 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Session 2: 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Sponsored by:
Office of the Provost
Office of Outreach and Engagement

Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center
In the new 2025 Strategic Plan, A Foundation for the Next Century, Texas Tech has made “Outreach and Engaged Scholarship” one of its three strategic priorities. This form of scholarship has gained significant attention and importance at higher education institutions across the country as it involves faculty, staff, and students in collaborations with community partners, for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources. Join us for this 3-hour workshop to learn more about engaged scholarship and how it differs from traditional scholarship.  You will further understand its value in teaching, research, and service; become familiar with best practices; and discover how you might be able to integrate it into your own role.  Topics include:
  • Definitions and Characteristics of Engaged Scholarship
  • Key Engaged Scholarship Concepts
  • Types of Engaged Scholarship– Engaged Teaching, Engaged Research/Creative Activity, Engaged Service, Engaged Commercialized Activities
  • Principles of University-Community Partnerships
  • Methodological Considerations
  • Systems Perspectives
  • Scholarship and Community Impacts
  • Resources and Internal/External Support 
During this interactive workshop, the presenter will also share his insights and personal experiences as a MSU faculty member who moved from traditional scholarship practices to engaged scholarship over the course of his academic career.


Dr. Hiram (Hi) E. Fitzgerald is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology and Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement at Michigan State University. He also is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Addiction Research Center, and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Edith Cowan University, School of Arts and Humanities, Western Australia. Fitzgerald earned his Ph.D. degree in developmental psychology (1967) from the University of Denver.  He is Honorary President of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Divisions 7, 34, 37, 43, 50) and the Association of Psychological Science.  He was elected to the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame (2015), and to the Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship (2014). Fitzgerald has published over 450 journal articles, chapters, books, reviewed abstracts and technical reports.  
Faculty and staff have the option to attend either the morning or the afternoon session. To register, visit the TLPDC website at:  The workshop will be held at the Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center, Room 151.
For more information about this workshop, contact Birgit Green, Director of Outreach and Engagement, e-mail:; phone: (806)834-2308.

The TLPDC Chair Academy Presents:
“Understanding the Centrality of Engagement in Teaching, Research, and Scholarship”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018; 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Teaching, Leaning, and Professional Development Center, Room 153

Lunch will be provided.
Presenter:  Dr. Hiram (Hi) E. Fitzgerald, Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement; University Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychology; Michigan State University
Department chairs from all disciplines are invited to attend a one-hour session conducted as part of the TLPDC Chair Academy.  Dr. Hi Fitzgerald will discuss the theory and practices behind community engagement at MSU and higher education in general.  He will explain the core principles of engagement and discuss its strategic value for academic departments and institutions as a whole.  He will highlight the significant impacts that engagement can have on teaching and learning, research and creative activity, and faculty scholarship.  Lastly, Hi will discuss ways to consider engaged scholarship in departmental reward structures, and tenure and promotion decisions. 

Please RSVP your attendance to either or at the TLPDC.
Deadline: Friday, March 16, 2018
The Engagement Scholarship Consortium seeks proposals for its 2018 conference, Transforming Higher Education Through Engaged Scholarship. The conference will be held September 30 through October 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Proposals for presentations are due Friday, March 16, 2018. Detailed submission guidelines are on the conference web page.  

The conference will feature nationally recognized speakers, as well as presentations and panel discussions on best practices in transforming the nature of higher education though publicly-engaged scholarship, teaching, practices, and policies. 
The Engagement Scholarship Consortium is composed of higher education member institutions that work toward the goal of building strong university-community partnerships anchored in the rigor of scholarship and designed to help build community capacity. For more information on the 2018 conference, visit:

Burkhart Center Teacher Training Institute

When her supervisor sent her an application to the Teacher Training Institute (TTI) at Texas Tech University's Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research, Lindsey Gurley said she didn't know what to expect. Gurley, a special education teacher in the Shallowater Independent School District who had not had this type of training, said it seemed like a good opportunity, so she applied.

Two years later, a letter from a student's mother showed her the importance of that training. "She wrote, ‘I thank God for you and the staff so much and for everything you have done for our family,'” Gurley said. "In the beginning of his eighth grade year, this student would have tantrums at least once a week lasting about 45 minutes. After the training, I was able to speak to my supervisor and look at the student's behavioral data. We figured out the function of his behavior was escape and came up with an intervention plan. Within three weeks, they saw improvement. 

Identifying a need
This one-of-a-kind program offered by Texas Tech’s Burkhart Center is designed to train educational professionals from rural and underserved school districts as autism spectrum disorder experts, behavioral coaches and board-certified behavioral analysts. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is just part of the training educators receive at the TTI as they learn how to teach and support children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

"This is the only program we know of in this country specifically designed to train educational professionals from rural and underserved school districts as autism spectrum disorder experts, behavioral coaches and board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA),” said Wesley Dotson, Burkhart Center director. "Ultimately, the most important impact of the program is that the students with autism served in our participants' classrooms, schools, districts and communities experience a higher quality of education, an increased ability to benefit from positive and effective supports and an increased capacity to live independent and successful lives because their school programs better meet their needs.”

While each school district defines the level of expertise differently, TTI trains its graduates to function in all three roles. Typically, a BCBA is considered the highest level practitioner for a student with autism. BCBAs are required to have a master's degree in special education or a related field, have completed a six-course sequence of specialized curriculum in behavior management and also have completed a supervised clinical experience of 750-1,500 hours of practice in implementing intervention protocols and training others to do so. 

Dotson said there are roughly 1,200 BCBAs in Texas, but for every one, there are more than 500 children with autism who need their expertise. The shortage of BCBAs is further compounded by the fact that many of the specialists qualified to design effective interventions for students with autism practice within 100 miles of Dallas, Austin and Houston and in private practices or clinics. In addition to a shortage of BCBAs in public school districts across the state, Dotson said studies have shown educators without training are unaware of or do not use practices identified as being successful for students with autism in their classes. 

Creating a solution
All of this means children who live in lower-income homes or who can only access services through public schools often do not have consistent access to specialized support. Children in rural communities tend to be even more underserved. This is where TTI comes in.  Established in 2015, the program provides educators the chance to complete a master's degree in special education and takes about one and a half to two years to complete, depending on how quickly the participants complete the practicum and coursework. When the training is complete, educators return to their districts with a better understanding not just of working with and supporting children with autism, but how to help their fellow educators do the same.

Seeing the change
In Poth, a town of fewer than 2,000 residents located about 35 miles southeast of San Antonio, behavior coach Judy Ortiz said the training she received from the Burkhart Center has allowed her to become a better advocate for her students and positively change how people think about what students with disabilities can accomplish. "I work in a very rural school district that has limited resources,” Ortiz said. "Many parents do not have the time or the resources to provide ABA services for their children on their own.  Having this training helps bring ABA techniques to their child during the school day and provides in-home training to build consistency between time at school and time at home.”

Original Story written by Amanda Castro-Crist.  For full story visit:

Project Contact:  Dr. Wesley Dotson, Director, Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research; e-mail:
The Texas Liberator Project

What began as an initiative to improve the teaching of World War II history in high schools has grown into a preservation project dedicated to remembering and honoring not just the victims of genocide but also the liberators who witnessed the atrocities themselves. 

Aliza Wong, associate professor of history and Associate Dean of Texas Tech Honors College, said  that the project itself has been a large-scale, multi-faceted collaborative effort two years in the making. "For the past two years, Texas Tech has been working in collaboration with the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission on a true passion project," Wong said. "(It is) something that will bring a new generation of middle school, high school and college students the history and narratives of the men and women who showed the utmost bravery, courage and sacrifice." 

The original concept for the project was a "digital textbook" that would contain educational material from the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. The information for the project was supplemented in part by recordings from the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University, which featured oral histories of Texas veterans who participated in the liberation of concentration camps during World War II. 

Since its inception, however, the project has evolved into three parts: a book, a website, and an educational computer application.  In addition, the Museum of Texas Tech University hosted an exhibit, "The Texas Liberator: Witness to the Holocaust” from August until December 2017, which, according to Wong, brought together the other three elements in a powerful display “that speaks to context, to witnessing, to commemoration and to history.” 

Texas Liberator Exhibit at the Texas Tech Museum. (Photo taken by Justin Rex)

Undergraduate and graduate students from five different colleges at Texas Tech collaborated to develop the project's components. They came from the College of Media & Communication, the J.T and Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts, the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Architecture and the Honors College

Engaging the collection of digital interviews already compiled and archived by the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, along with the expertise of several of the Colleges at Texas Tech, the computer application has become the centerpiece of the Liberator Project.  It allows students to virtually and intellectually "enter" the history and interact directly with maps, video components, blueprints, biographical materials, documents, photographs, and other primary source texts in a unique, first-person, simulated platform. It was developed with the hopes of using a medium to connect students to the study and fundamentals of history in a unique and engaging way.

“The project owes its success to the tireless efforts of the educators at Tech and their staffs as well as the faculty and staff at the museum,” Peter Berkowitz, commissioner of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, said.   

For more information about the Texas Liberator Project, visit

Project Contact: Dr. Aliza Wong, Associate Professor of History and Associate Dean of Texas Tech Honors College; e-mail:
Texas Tech + AccelerateH20: A Regional Water Innovation Partnership

In fall 2017, fifty-five individuals representing a cross-section of federal, state, regional public- and private-sector water interests convened at Texas Tech University's Innovation Hub at Research Park to organize a Regional Water Innovation Partnership. Their goal was to define the scope of work for conducting in-the-field, scalable testing and evaluation of technologies, integrated solutions and unique public-private partnership operating models to create a One-Water Opportunity and Strategy for West Texas.  

AccelerateH2O was established as a statewide initiative to break through barriers and put the world's best technologies to work. It serves urban and rural, residential, industrial, agricultural and public water utilities by identifying alternative programs, methodologies and applications that ensure water is reused, conserved and better managed.

Partners in the Innovation Partnership include: the Texas Water Development Board's Office of Innovation, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's regional office, the Texas Department of Agriculture's Deputy Commissioner's Office, the Texas Rural Water Association, the Texas Desalination Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's national and regional offices, the South Plains Association of Governments, City of Lubbock Water, and Texas Tech's Water Resources Center, the Water Center in the College of Agriculture Sciences & Natural Resources and the Maddox Engineering Research Center in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.

The large-scale partnership was created to leverage assets, competencies, know-how, expertise and commercialization of centers, institutes, historical and current programs.  Identifying current and breakthrough technologies and unique best-practice innovations – at the operational and managerial level – will ensure that West Texas communities and industries are drought-proof by sparking a ‘one-water' approach across sources, end-users and public-private management,” said Richard Seline, executive director of AccelerateH2O."

"Forming the regional water partnership is not another public policy initiative, but we must link every water-related public and private source of best practice in technology adoption and deployment...that makes West Texas a 21st century economic competitor,” said Kimberly Gramm, senior managing director for the Innovation Hub. "Our cities and counties look like places all around the world where resiliency is based on a simple proposition: uninterruptable water supply.”

Original story written by Glenys Young.  For full story visit:

Project Contact: Kimberly Gramm, Senior Managing Director, Innovation Hub; e-mail:

5-year-old Ellie Sledge Aids in Cotton Research at Tech

Outside the city of Lubbock, cotton fields stretch as far as the eye can see. For the students of Terra Vista Middle School, cotton is all they see when they look outside their classroom windows.

That's why a group of 84 students, accompanied by a handful of teachers, visited the Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University - to learn  more about the fluffy white crop that surrounds their school.  Among the group was 5-year-old Ellie Sledge, daughter of social science teacher, Joseph Sledge.

As Ramkumar, a professor of nonwovens and advanced materials in the Department of Environmental Toxicology, was showing students cotton and how it can be used to absorb oil from water, Ellie saw the cotton and yelled “fluffy.”

In all his years in research, Ramkumar said he has never seen such a young girl be so interested in scientific research. Because of this, he decided to use Sledge as the face of the research and have her help with the outreach.

“This is a very big way to help research,” Ramkumar said. “Research has to be communicated to the people at large. Otherwise, it doesn’t serve the purpose. People see that a very young girl that understands everything we are doing and wants to be a part of it. That’s a very inspirational story for other young people who are budding scientists.”

Children like Sledge will shape the next generation of the workforce, Ramkumar said, and Sledge’s work with his research will inspire other children to become more interested in science.

Original story written by Matthew Setzekorn. For full story visit:

Project Contact: Dr. Seshadi Ramkumar, Professor, Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Lab; e-mail:


To submit a story for TTU's Engagement Spotlight, please contact Dr. Birgit Green, Director, Office of Outreach and Engagement;; or call (806)834-2308.



Feb 28, 2023