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Fall 2017


A Newsletter from the Office of Academic Engagement
Fall 2017

Outreach and Engagement - A Strategic Priority for Texas Tech!

On October 9th, during the State of the University Address, President Lawrence Schovanec announced Texas Tech’s new Strategic Plan, “A Foundation for the Next Century:  A Pathway to 2025.” Outreach and Engagement continues to be one of the university’s strategic priorities, seeking to extend the knowledge and expertise of TTU faculty, staff, and students beyond campus borders and promoting partnerships with local, regional, national, and global communities in order to “transform lives and communities through strategic outreach and engaged scholarship.” (TTU 2025 Strategic Plan).

Effective November 1, Dr. John Opperman has been named Associate Vice President for Outreach and Engagement. He will work with Provost Michael Galyean and Vice President for Research Joseph A. Heppert to strengthen a culture of outreach and engagement that values mutually beneficial collaborations between faculty, student, and community partners to stimulate creativity, innovation, and social and economic development. Dr. Opperman will serve in a dual role, continuing his current position as Texas Tech System Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  He previously served as Interim President of Texas Tech University.

New initiatives are currently underway to advocate, recognize, and support faculty, staff, and student engagement with external communities. More details will be forthcoming. We welcome any suggestions from faculty, staff, and students. (contact Dr. Birgit Green at or Dr. John Opperman at

Annual Raiders Engaged Assessment Underway – Deadline December 1!

Texas Tech is currently conducting its AY’17 assessment of Community Outreach and Engagement activities via Raiders Engaged. Faculty and staff are asked to report any teaching, research, creative, or service activities conducted for or in partnership with individuals or groups outside of the traditional campus community. These could be non-profit organizations, government agencies, K-12 schools, civic groups, and others.  Respondents will be able to download and update previously reported projects without having to re-enter the information. The Office of Planning and Assessment will automatically upload any engagement activities reported by TTU faculty into their Digital Measures accounts for annual reporting purposes. The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2017.  Raiders Engaged can be accessed at: Contact Libby Spradlin at the Office of Planning and Assessment, if you require assistance (e-mail:; phone: 834-2438)

Populations Served by TTU Outreach and Engagement Programs and Activities (Source: Raiders Engaged 2016 Report):



Llano River Field Station receives W.K. Kellogg "Exemplary Project” Award
Project Contact: Dr. Tom Arsuffi, Director, Llano River Field Station; e-mail:
At a recent awards ceremony during the 2017 Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) Conference in Birmingham, Alabama, Texas Tech University’s Llano River Field Station (the Station) was recognized by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s “Exemplary Project” award for outstanding accomplishments in community engagement. The “Exemplary Project” recognition is extended to colleges and universities that have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities. The Station was competing with entrants from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, as well as American Samoa, Guam, Mexico, Micronesia, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The award was based on many factors, including the Station’s “research and engagement in a spectrum of partnerships focused on recognizing, understanding, and finding solutions to regional problems related to watershed and range science, freshwater systems, and the environment, with national and international implications.” 

The Station’s research activities, which are a model collaborative community effort, concentrate on the Upper Llano River watershed and threats to this healthy watershed. These threats include aquifer mining, population growth, invasive water sucking plants, land fragmentation, climate change, pollution, and harmful land management practices. The “Exemplary Project” award recognized that engagement between Station researchers, students, staff, and community partners has resulted in enhanced natural resource science and conservation and best practices in watershed protection.  Also flowing from this engagement is an exemplary Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum and nationally recognized education programs. In commenting on the award, Dr. Arsuffi said he is very pleased to see community stakeholders, Texas Tech, and the Field Station being recognized for truly collaborative efforts to protect the precious natural resources of the Texas Hill Country and, in particular, the Upper Llano Watershed. 

Dr. Melanie Hart, Vice Provost, and Dr. Tom Arsuffi, Director, Llano River Field Station, accept the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Exemplary Project Award.

Youth Mappers for Puerto Rico
Project Contact: Dr. Patricia Solis, Co-Director, TTU Center for Geospatial Technology, Co-founder and Director, YouthMappers; e-mail:

Universities increasingly seek novel ways to offer meaningful global learning experiences, build a socially engaged citizenry, enhance scientific capacity, and foster student leadership. YouthMappers leverages academic community involvement to synergize with and fill a unique niche among an expanding set of volunteer digital humanitarians. The crowd-sourced geographic information created by YouthMappers is directly linked to development efforts in targeted countries, creating new, quality, geospatial data in unmapped places of the world.  Data is created on OpenStreetMap through remote mapathons digitizing features from satellite imagery and through local field mapping of detailed attributes. The network has grown rapidly to more than 35 universities in 12 countries and contributed over 3 million map changes to OpenStreetMap during the program’s first year alone. The consortium organizes a global community of learners, researchers, educators, and scholars to create and use open geographic data that directly address locally defined development challenges worldwide.  

During the month of September, Texas Tech students and their faculty advisors joined numerous other students in the US and in developing nations on the Mapping for Resilience project. Over 70 TTU students came together one evening in Holden Hall to help improve the open map of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the island. Their work is making a difference to aid organizations on the ground, like the American Red Cross, who had requested this task. Together, they made 28,153 map changes to OpenStreetMap in just a few short hours! The whole task itself was completed and validated, and is now in use by the humanitarian community in Puerto Rico. Dr. Frances Colon, former Deputy Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State at the US Department of State, a Puerto Rican, said of the efforts: "It makes my heart sing!

University of Puerto Rico geography students gather to clean up their campus after Hurricane Maria.

TTU YouthMappers gathering in Holden Hall to map for Puerto Rico..

The Use of Art and Nature in Autism and Alzheimer’s Work

Project Contact: Dr. Gary Morgan, Executive Director, Museum of Texas Tech University; e-mail:
Over the past 15 months, the Museum of Texas Tech has worked with communities in developing programming for people on the autism spectrum and sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease. These programs are provided through both the Museum and the Lubbock Lake Landmark. The Museum’s Education Division has partnered with the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research (with Dr. Wesley Dotson, director of the Center as adviser) in developing Art with Emotion, a program to allow Burkhart students an opportunity to learn how to better recognize emotions in themselves and in other people. It aims to grow the students’ ability to recognize emotions that they might otherwise have difficulty identifying, in order to enhance their understanding of how their own body language and facial expression appear to other people and what others are trying to communicate to them through their body language. The Museum and Burkhart Center hope to expand the program to other Special Needs communities in Lubbock.
A second program for those on the autism spectrum is the Nature Senses traveling trunk, developed and implemented by the Lubbock Lake Landmark staff, also in consultation with Dr. Dotson.  It is designed to allow blind/visually impaired, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, to experience the natural and cultural heritage of the Lubbock Lake Landmark and the region through touch and sound.  A third program is Sensory Saturdays, a family access program for children on the Autism Spectrum, held at the Landmark on third Saturdays every other month in March. 
In the program Memory Makers, Museum Education staff are working with Raider Ranch, an assisted living and memory care facility located in Lubbock, to develop programming for Alzheimer’s sufferers to assist in enhancing their cognitive skills. Working with activities directors at Raider Ranch, the Museum has hosted residents three times this year in a small tour of the galleries and discussion of different works of art. After the tour, participants are involved in an art/craft related activity. There is growing evidence that this type of engagement with art can very positively stimulate cognitive processes in early onset Alzheimer’s sufferers. The interaction between the program provider (the Museum) and the care givers, helps identify effective responses and impacts on program participants. While this program is tailored to Raider Ranch, the Museum hopes to involve other memory care groups in Lubbock to create similar programs based on community partners’ needs and input.  


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



Feb 28, 2023