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Applications and nominations now open for Presidential Societal Impact Scholar award

Faculty who are skilled at sharing and translating their academic work with the public are invited to apply for a Presidential Societal Impact Scholar award.

The award recognizes faculty who are experts in their respective fields and have experience sharing or translating their scholarship, research, creative activities and ideas with a general audience that includes policymakers, opinion leaders and others outside academia.

The faculty member’s area of focus should address a major societal issue, such as physical health and well-being, mental illness, poverty, the housing crisis, an environmental problem, etc. The work should have the potential to inform public debate, positively impact individuals and institutions and help improve and make our communities, state and world a place where all can thrive.

Selected scholars will form the second cohort of the Presidential Societal Impact Scholar network, joining five faculty members chosen by President Taylor Randall in 2022. Each scholar receives a one-time cash award of $10,000 and communication support to promote their public-facing works.

Nominations and applications are due by Sept. 29, 2023. More details about the nomination process are available at this link. The application form is available by clicking here.

Applicants must be full-time tenure or career-line faculty who have worked at the University of Utah for at least three years. Nominations must include examples of works that demonstrate the faculty member’s reach beyond the university and academia, including op-eds, guest columns, media interviews, books, articles, podcasts, videos, public exhibits, performances, artwork and presentations. Submissions should demonstrate how the nominee has enhanced public discourse, influenced public policy, informed or shaped public opinion or otherwise affected individual lives and society.

A committee, which includes the current scholars, will review applications, select finalists and make recommendations to President Randall, who will choose the new cohort. The 2023-24 Presidential Societal Impact Scholars will be announced no later than December 2023 and will assume their roles in January 2024.

The current scholars—Ken Golden, Paisley Rekdal, Michelle Litchman, RonNell Andersen Jones and Susie Porter—will serve through May 2024 and then continue as members of the permanent scholars network.

Randy Dryer, a professor in the Honors College and S.J. Quinney College of Law, conceived the program and arranged a gift to the university to support it.

“The goal of the Presidential Societal Impact Scholar initiative is to reward and incentivize professors to engage in sharing their knowledge and expertise beyond the university,” Dryer said. “A university can be a laboratory for developing solutions to society’s most pressing problems and faculty need to affirmatively promote and translate their work to opinion leaders and the public at-large.”

Learn more about the program by clicking on this link.