Fairfield University dean a finalist for national award


Image: Robin CrabtreeRobbin Crabtree, Ph.D., dean of Fairfield University's College of Arts & Sciences, has been named a finalist for the 2013 Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award, which is given annually to a senior, tenured faculty member for exemplary leadership in advancing students' civic learning, supporting community engagement and contributing to the public good. It is presented by Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,200 college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the public purposes of higher education. 

Dr. Crabtree, a Fairfield, Conn., resident, was among just three finalists for the award, which went to Richard Battistoni, a Providence College professor. 

Dr. Crabtree was instrumental in organizing Fairfield University's Office of Service Learning and, as its inaugural director and early adopter of community-engaged teaching and scholarship in her discipline of communication, has been at the forefront of advancing many civically minded endeavors on campus.

"I am very pleased that Dean Crabtree was one of three finalists for this award, for her own work and for her leadership in fostering the ideals that this award recognizes," said the Rev. Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., Fairfield's senior vice president for academic affairs. "Dr. Crabtree has a rich body of peer-reviewed scholarship that applies directly to justice, equity and common good issues."

As chair of the Communication Department and then as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Crabtree has been a leader in advancing students' deep and transformative education, through the core and through the majors, minors and interdisciplinary programs, for civic engagement and social responsibility. She also fostered and advanced many reciprocal community partnerships in the region and around the world, enhancing Fairfield University's institutional commitment to service-learning and civic engagement, Fr. Fitzgerald said.

"While my own community-based research and teaching was the center of my life as a faculty member, one of the most gratifying aspects of my work as dean is in cultivating and supporting other faculty in their development as community engaged teacher-scholars," Dr. Crabtree said. "Administrative support is a vital aspect of the institutionalization of service-learning and community-engagement, and is particularly important for junior faculty."

Saul Petersen, Ph.D., executive director of Connecticut Campus Compact, said the field of civic engagement is evolving and has become a core strategy for institutions wishing to actualize their public purpose and commitment to issues of social justice. "This can only occur when the leadership culture of the institution articulates this commitment, as demonstrated ably by Dean Crabtree," he said. "Through her actions, and with many other civic leaders on campus, students gain both a deep appreciation of the issues of our time and how to focus career aspirations on just solutions." 

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 15, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 2