Loyola University Maryland

Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ)

Past Recipients - Faculty Award for Excellence in Engaged Scholarship

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The comments below were read when the awards were presented to the honorees.


Jill Snodgrass

Dr. Jill Snodgrass uses service-learning pedagogies in three of the graduate courses she teaches. As Jill will tell you if you ask her, graduate-level service-learning courses have unique challenges (among them, average student age, adult life experiences and responsibilities, and long commuting distances), and therefore often differ significantly from undergraduate service-learning courses. Dr. Snodgrass has encountered and survived all of these challenges, and has successfully transformed them into advantages for her students. 

In PC670: her “Introduction to Pastoral Counseling” course, Dr. Snodgrass had 18 different community partners, rather than the usual two or three. In PC701: her “Spiritual and Theological Dimensions of Suffering” course, Dr. Snodgrass has partnered with the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center in Columbia, where her students have the opportunity to: [a] work with “the individuals and families experiencing homelessness who reside at the shelter” [Hudak letter]; [b] “see how agencies respond to experiences of human suffering, …[and help clients] grapple with their suffering through service, and [c] examine both the individual and systemic issues inherent in human suffering” [application].

In addition to her excellence in service-learning, Dr. Snodgrass has: (1) presented her work at the annual conference of the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement; (2) joined colleagues in publishing their work in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement; and (3) conducted community-based research for and with Marian House: research for which she received a Kolvenbach Summer Research Grant.

Jennifer Scaturo Watkinson

Dr. Jennifer Scaturo Watkinson’s engaged research involves a partnership with the Harford County Public School System to “collaboratively mentor elementary school counselors in transformative leadership practices that intentionally and strategically support the academic goals of their schools." The three-year longitudinal study was awarded a prestigious “Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program Federal Grant” of $1.1 million, and led to “one published article, one under review and two more being written, which focus on] vision as a transformative leadership skill.” Dr. Watkinson and her community partner, Dr. Kevin Ensor, will present on their research and mentoring of school counselors “at the American School Counseling Association conference” this summer.

During this three-year research project, Dr. Watkinson and Dr. Ensor worked with 36 elementary school counselors:  (a) to share their perceptions of, and help redefine, the counselors’ roles; (b) to “position themselves around their vision[s]; and (c) to assist them with other forms of “mentorship and resources [needed to develop new] skill sets to engage in actions that alight with their vision[s].”

In his letter of support for Dr. Watkinson’s award application, Dr. Ensor writes, “

To my knowledge, there are no other higher-education partnerships with public or private school systems similar to this arrangement. Harford County Public Schools will benefit from a reduced student- to -counselor ratio at four schools, and all of our elementary counselors will be provided with post-graduate training to help improve their clinical skills and to provide them with assistance with their most difficult cases. Additionally, the professors in the Loyola University counselor education program will gain from this partnership an understanding of the challenges that are facing school counselors today, which will help inform them about changes that may need to be made at the graduate level to help better prepare students for the demands of the position. This type of mutual collaboration between higher education and the local area school systems is desperately needed and will no doubt be replicated by others after learning about the findings from Dr. Watkinson’s research.”


Cathy Castellan

For over twelve years, Dr. Castellan has inspired students and colleagues with her sustained commitment to service-learning.  Dr. Castellan has developed a strong, reciprocal partnership with neighboring Guilford Elementary/Middle School by serving alongside her students, in the classrooms and in after-school programs. She provides professional development opportunities for teachers, serves on the school’s Community Engagement Team, meets with parents, helps select principals and even attends political rallies with her students to support improvements for Baltimore City Schools.

One Loyola student explains that Dr. Castellan works to ensure that those learning from the experience in the classroom are not only her Loyola students, but the Guilford students as well, which makes a difference in each of those student’s lives.  Dr. Castellan’s integration of her service-learning pedagogy with her own qualitative research helps challenge students to think about social justice and diversity in the classroom, lessons that another student notes will certainly make a “lasting impact on [her] life.”

The excellence demonstrated by Dr. Castellan is, as she notes in her personal reflection, “the longevity of the relationships, contributions and beneficial outcomes – twelve years of building, engaging, sharing and celebrating together.”

Karsonya (Kaye) Whitehead

The City of Baltimore and My Sister’s Place Women’s Center serve as the canvasses upon which Dr. Whitehead’s students record, produce and edit original digital stories.  In that course, students work with, and learn from, women who are temporarily experiencing homelessness, helping to bring “clarity out of confusion by addressing issues of social justice” within their own work.

Dr. Whitehead explains in her personal reflection that as educators, we are expected to show our students, by word and by deed, how to challenge themselves, how to “integrate intellect with faith and action for justice,” and how to be compassionate without being judgmental. By her rigorous, engaged and conscious approach, Dr. Whitehead has done just that.

For example, after her students reported that the women at My Sister’s Place were initially reluctant to share their stories, out of fear that they did not know how to give voice to their pain and struggles, Dr. Whitehead volunteered to teach a weekly Writing Workshop to help them claim their voices and own their stories. Dr. Whitehead’s commitment to teaching and research on issues of justice inform and strengthen one another, inspiring students, colleagues and community partners.  


Dr. Beth Kotchick

In her nomination of Dr. Kotchick, Dr. Carolyn Barry highlights the fact that she has taught her Psychopsychology class (PY 202) seven times since she integrated service-learning into it in 2006. Dr. Barry goes on to point out that, “In addition to service-learning, Dr. Kotchick…has an ongoing form of engaged scholarship” with Dr. Papdakis, in which “they have partnered with the Archdiocese of Baltimore to understand the potential causes and outcomes of relational aggression and bullying on Baltimore’s children and adolescents. This project has incorporated Loyola students at all levels (undergraduate, master’s and doctoral) and has been implemented carefully and with much dialogue with the Archdiocese to ensure that the schools’ needs were met first and foremost.”

In the personal reflection portion of her application, Dr. Kotchick writes about her Psychopsychology class (PY 202):

“Reading their journal entries and engaging in an ongoing dialogue about their experiences is truly a remarkable gift for a teacher. And if that is not enough, I am provided with the opportunity to read inspiring culminating papers that focus on specific social justice themes encountered during their service-learning experiences throughout the semester. It is clear from these papers that service-learning provides a powerful context for students to examine their beliefs and assumptions about mental illness, integrate what they hear and see with their own experiences, expand their understanding of psychopathology in the context of real lives lived in the immediate community that surrounds Loyola University, and reflect on their calling to promote justice and respect for people from all backgrounds, particularly those who suffer injustice and discrimination.”

Dr. Thomas Ward

Dr. Ward was designated the Harry W. Rodgers, III, Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 2011, and has been teaching service-learning courses at Loyola for more than 20 years. His students have translated for doctors at GBMC; worked with the mayor’s Hispanic liaison at City Hall; worked on legal issues at Centro de la Comunidad; worked as tutors at Esperanza Center and EBLO; engaged in lobbying and activism at Casa de Maryland; and served as part of the Casa Baltimore/Limay sister-city project and Artesanos Don Bosco, an empowerment program for Andean people.

In his application narrative, Dr. Ward writes:

“I find that the service-learning students become charged up as they meet native Spanish speakers and they also become much more aware of justice issues then would be possible in a class that focused on novels, essays or poetry only.” 

“[There is great strength in the]… learning that goes on outside of class to texture, contexture, and deepen the meanings of the readings students do in class."

“The knowledge that the students impart to their tutorees, to their translations, to their data base production, to their phone lobbying…becomes integrated into the world view of those people, those documents, those databases, or those phone contacts. Conversely knowledge that comes from the sites is integrated into the course through the …[students’] reflections which become an important text in the class. This integration of knowledge fosters an awareness of justice, diversity, and social responsibility as well as immersion in other cultures that itself deepens that awareness of justice, diversity, and social responsibility.”


Dr. Carolyn Barry

In her application narrative, Dr. Barry writes, "I fervently believe that my students gain a more profound understanding of the course content, especially human diversity, from the use of this pedagogy and in turn they grapple with larger social issues, which promotes their identity development, and in turn the ability to become 'leaders in a diverse, and changing world.'   While I naively declared my willingness to utilize this pedagogy in my application to Loyola in the Spring of 2001, I never would have imagined that it would become the defining characteristic and main pedagogy of my courses here at Loyola.  Moreover, this experience of teaching these courses has profoundly changed me as a person by promoting my own deeper understanding of, and personal commitment to, social justice."

Dr. Andrea Leary, Department of Writing

Dr. Leary begins her application narrative by saying, “The Arc of Maryland, my first service partner, has a motto: 'Changing Minds, Changing Lives.' When I reflect on my service-learning classes here at Loyola, I see that this has been my motto, too.”

Her nominator says of her, "Andrea Leary is our department’s resident “expert” on service learning. She has the extraordinary capacity to motivate students towards their service goals as well as towards the goal of writing powerful, effective prose.  Her students are some of the most exciting, mature, sophisticated students I’ve ever met. Of course, this is because she empowers them to take charge - -and they do. Dr. Leary forms highly effective bonds with community groups that are ongoing and continue to develop past the end of school. She is tireless, creative and inspiring and it is an honor to recommend her for this award."


Dr. Betsy Schmidt

Since she began at Loyola, Dr. Schmidt has practiced engaged teaching and scholarship with an emphasis on the intersection of theory and action.  In 2005, she began incorporating service-learning pedagogy into her courses. Since then, all of her service-learning courses have exemplified best practices in reflection, reciprocity and partnership.  Betsy describes her central teaching objective as “open[ing] students up to new ways of seeing the world, exposing them to different value systems and world views, sensitizing them to the humanity of 'the other and the validity of other cultures.'”

In her efforts to accomplish this, Betsy initiated and developed her own service-learning partnership with Baltimore organizations that serve African Refugees.  Over time, her relationship with Baltimore City Community College’s Refugee Youth Project (RYP) has deepened and expanded to also benefit other faculty members and their service-learning courses as well.  Through RYP’s programs, 145 of Betsy’s students have served refugee youth and adults.  Betsy’s service-learning students write weekly reflections throughout their semester connecting their experiences to the course’s academic content.  They make formal presentations to their peers at the end of each semester, sharing their discovered knowledge with one another.  Betsy’s work with her community partner, BCCC’s Refugee Youth Project has been exemplary and she has been honored with awards from the International Refugee Committee and BCCC’s Refugee Programs.   She works closely with Kursten Pickup, RYP’s Coordinator arranging campus event space for trainings, assisting with grant applications, serving as liaison and facilitating the relationship between the Center for Community Service and Justice and RYP.  They have even co-presented together at regional conferences.

Dr. Mickey Fenzel

For more than 20 years at Loyola, Dr. Mickey Fenzel has demonstrated excellence in many areas of engaged scholarship.  As an engaged teacher, he has purposefully integrated service-learning pedagogy and research.  He has created innovative, cross-disciplinary courses in service-learning in both undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology and education. He challenges his students to consider the impacts of poverty and urban environments on student development and learning and to consider alternative models for urban education.  Over the years, his partnerships with local schools and educators have resulted in joint presentations for and with community partners.  He has worked supporting local schools, such as Sisters Academy, where he currently serves on the Board of Directors.  We are delighted that Sr. Delia Dowling from Sisters Academy could be here with us this afternoon for the presentation of this award.

In addition, Mickey’s cross-disciplinary professional research examining education in urban environments has informed his teaching in significant ways.   Not only has Mickey’s research examined urban education nationally and locally, he has also conducted research to explore service-learning pedagogy and how it contributes to an understanding of the larger issues involved in issues of education access.  Mickey also played a role in the early development of service-learning at Loyola and has chosen to learn alongside students in immersion programs to Mexico, El Salvador and Jamaica.


Dr. Drew Leder

Professor Leder’s commitment to excellence in engaged teaching and scholarship has taken many forms during his nearly seventeen years of contributions to students, colleagues, and to campus life. His commitment to connecting learning, service, and social justice has produced profound learning experiences and opportunities for students as well as for members of communities far beyond our campus and the neighborhoods which border it.

In his “Bridge Project,” Professor Leder taught seminars in a maximum security prison, wrote a book from his taped conversations with inmates, and later took his students to the prison and used his book and experiences in future service-learning courses. This kind of teaching and learning inspires all of us at Loyola to challenge ourselves to be better human beings, to reach out through education to advocate for social justice and to improve the social condition for everyone, not just those who happen to study at Loyola College.

In addition, Professor Leder has contributed more to the institutionalization of service-learning on our campus than any other faculty member in the history of the college. Our Service Leadership Program grew out of his own search for ways to make the educational experience at Loyola more academically relevant to the lives of our students and to the world they enter upon graduation. In addition, Professor Leder has served as a Service-Learning Faculty Associate in our Center for Values and Service, as a respected member on the Service-Learning Faculty Advisory Committee, then the Committee on Engaged Scholarship and as an informal consultant to our service-learning staff over the past decade.