President Taylor Randall announced a new class of faculty awards this week targeted at honoring instructors and researchers who are skilled at translating academic work for the general public.
The University of Utah’s Presidential Societal Impact Scholar Awards will recognize a select group of faculty: Recognized experts in their respective fields and disciplines, they share and translate their scholarship, research, creative activities and ideas with opinion leaders, policymakers, the general public and other audiences outside the university and in ways that can transform society. From tackling the social determinants of health and wellness to addressing the underlying causes of crime and poverty, to designing interventions to curb poor air and water quality, to helping better inform public debate on society’s most pressing issues, public impact scholars’ works have a positive impact on people and institutions and help make our world a better, more equitable and enjoyable place to live.
“These scholars are a critical part of our aspiration towards making a difference in the lives of all Utahns’ lives,” Randall said. “By helping us translate the incredible work in education, research and service provided by the university, they are helping to rewrite our compact with the community around us.”
The first cohort of Presidential Public Impact Scholars will be selected in time to be honored at the university’s 2022 General Commencement May 5. Nominations and applications are due March 31.
The new awards are conceived and supported by a gift from Randy Dryer, a professor in the Honors College and S.J. Quinney College of Law.
“Academics play a unique role in society. As subject matter experts in their respective fields and disciplines, university professors advance the generation of new knowledge through their research, scholarship and creative activity,” Dryer said. “Academics can have an outsized influence in shaping public policy and helping inform public debate on our nation’s most pressing issues when they translate and share their knowledge with a broad audience outside the University.”
Applicants must be full-time tenure or career-line faculty who have been employed at the university for at least three years. Nominations require works that demonstrate the exposure and reach of the faculty member beyond the university, including op-eds, guest columns, interviews, books, articles, podcasts, videos, public exhibits, performances, artwork and presentations. Submissions must demonstrate how nominees have enhanced public discourse, influenced public policy, informed or shaped public opinion, or otherwise improved society and individual lives while enhancing the reputation of the university.
Dryer said the goal of the Presidential Public Impact Scholars initiative is to reward and incentivize professors to engage in sharing their knowledge and expertise beyond the university for the betterment of the community.
Each scholar will become a permanent member of the Society of Presidential Public Impact Scholars and receive a one-time, $10,000 cash award and communication support to promote their public-facing works. Scholars will periodically meet to discuss their work, make public appearances and encourage other scholars. Scholars will be eligible for re-nomination every three years.