Recognizing extraordinary community outreach

In recognition of extraordinary community outreach, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named University of Utah the winner of the 2020 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award during a ceremony at the group’s annual meeting. The award includes a sculpture and a $20,000 prize.

The University of Utah partnered with Salt Lake City’s westside neighborhoods to form University Neighborhood Partners (UNP) to advance hyperlocal community engagement. UNP convenes university faculty, staff and students, westside residents, and local organizations and institutions to address resident-identified priorities in education, leadership and community capacity and well-being. These priorities, gathered through a yearlong research project, became the blueprint for UNP.

“University Neighborhood Partners was founded in the belief that community engagement is the cornerstone in building a vibrant and thriving society,” said University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins. “UNP is truly a great example of our commitment to our state as the University for Utah through service, partnerships and strong connections to our communities. This is wonderful recognition of that work.”

One UNP-supported effort, the Westside Leadership Institute, has aided hundreds of residents in building leadership and organizing skills, designing projects addressing local issues, and starting community-based organizations. Another, the UNP Hartland Partnership Center (Hartland), is a hub where the university, organizations and community leaders collaborate on culturally responsive, resident-led neighborhood services and educational opportunities. UNP-supported efforts have contributed to the education of thousands of students; increased access to higher education for residents; disseminated knowledge through hundreds of academic, practitioner and community-oriented products; and increased the capacity of communities to define their own future.

“This award recognizes over 17 years of hard work by UNP staff bringing together university and west side people in meaningful and authentic partnerships that have had a positive impact on social equity and inclusion in our community,” said Jennifer Mayer-Glenn, director of UNP. “The UNP staff is elated and grateful for the recognition and award that will help us expand our work.”

In October, the University of Utah was named one of four regional winners of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. Those regional winners, named in collaboration with the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, automatically become finalists for the national Magrath Award.

“We applaud the University of Utah for its comprehensive approach to community engagement,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Working with their communities to identify and address challenges is a core part of public universities’ mission. The University of Utah stands as an important example of the potential impact of this type of collaboration. Utah’s commitment to this partnership has helped increase access to higher education and share lessons from cutting-edge research.”

Media Contacts

Morgan Aguilarcommunications specialist, University of Utah Communications