Skip Sub Menu

Drake receives four awards for commitment to community engagement and civic leadership

Wednesday, April 19th, 2023

A Drake University student, dean, professor, and program were named winners of this year’s President’s and Engaged Campus Awards by the Iowa and Minnesota Campus Compact. The honorees were selected for their outstanding commitment to community engagement and civic responsibility. This year, 86 awardees were chosen from 55 colleges and universities across the two-state network.

The following Drake program and people were recognized at an in-person ceremony on April 13 at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minn. 

Matthew Williams, senior at Drake University majoring in accounting, was recognized with the Presidents’ Student Leadership Award. Williams has been an advocate for people with disabilities and involved with Easter Seals his entire life. On campus he has built a community of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to developing the resources needed to create a more inclusive campus environment.

Alejandro Hernandez, dean of the Zimpleman College of Business, was recognized with the Presidents’ Civic Engagement Leadership Award. Hernandez has led a rebrand of the college focused on ‘Business as a Force for Good,’ launched the Dean’s Honor Roll for Social Impact, and created a new Social Impact Research and Outreach Award to recognize faculty and staff contributions to improving society through their research and service.

Elizabeth Talbert, assistant professor of sociology, was recognized with the Engaged Campus Award for Community Collaboration. Talbert has spent the last two years building relationships with affordable housing agencies, the staff that run them, and the people who are served (or not) by them. What began with a sociology methods service-learning project morphed into a collaboration involving Talbert; Matthew Record, assistant professor of Public Policy and American Politics; eight Drake students; and members of the Polk County Homeless Coordinating Council to examine why individuals face barriers to shelter and permanent housing in the Des Moines community.

Homeward, Polk County’s homelessness planning organization, was recognized with the Presidents’ Community Partner Award. Following up on a one-time community-engaged learning course partnership, Homeward worked with Drake University to commission a first-of-its-kind community engaged research project to provide a platform for 157 people experiencing homelessness to tell their stories. The findings are being used to inform local public policy.

Additionally, the Sprout Learning Garden and Food Forest received Honorable Mention for the Engaged Campus Award for Emerging Innovation. Sprout, located at 1300 30th Street in Des Moines, is home to more than 60 food-producing trees and shrubs, hundreds of edible perennial plants, pollinator-attracting flowers and natives, three permaculture swales, a half-acre learning garden, gathering spaces, and a walking trail.

Lists of awardees by award category with images and additional description of each recipient’s accomplishments are available on the IAMNCC website.

Learn more about Drake’s community and civic engagement efforts. 

Community News