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Published April 05, 2019
For his work in developing literacy among young learners across the state, the University of Wyoming Literacy Research Center and Clinic’s (LRCC) executive director is the recipient of the Marvin Millgate Engaged Faculty Award.
As executive director, Dana Robertson ensures that the LRCC partners with organizations around the state, as well as Wyoming teachers, students and administrators, to support literacy development.
The LRCC serves as the center for literacy research and scholarship in Wyoming by offering professional development for in-service teachers; literacy education for pre-service teachers and graduate students; research on literacy education; and service as a statewide clinical resource.
Robertson works with school districts; nongovernmental organizations; nonprofit corporations; individuals through research and professional development; and through clinical services for families with children who find reading and writing challenging. He also consults with educators and other relevant stakeholders on improving literacy teaching and learning.
“Through the Literacy Research Center and Clinic, Dana has partnered with a variety of institutions across the state -- from elementary and high schools to entire school districts to the Arapaho tribe -- to help those organizations improve students’ abilities in reading and writing,” says Paul Flesher, the interim UW Office of Engagement and Outreach director, which sponsors the Millgate awards. “Dana’s work embodies both core elements of the faculty award: namely, the practice and demonstrated scholarship of engagement, which advances knowledge-sharing between academic disciplines and the public, as well as within academic disciplines.”
The Marvin Millgate Community Engagement Awards were established by President Laurie Nichols and Provost Kate Miller, in cooperation with UW’s Engagement Task Force, to recognize collaborative teaching and research that extend beyond the UW campus. The selected honorees each receive $1,000, which may be used to fund additional engagement work by the recipients.
“With these awards, we acknowledge that community engagement is an integral component of UW’s land-grant mission and honor those faculty, staff, students and partners whose collaborations involve the exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of reciprocity with the citizens and institutions of Wyoming, the nation and the world,” Flesher says.
LRCC’s statewide partnerships are generally initiated through community organizations, schools or individuals contacting the LRCC for support. From there, Robertson works to understand the needs and strengths already present, says UW’s Cynthia Brock, the Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair in Literacy Education who nominated Robertson for the award.
“To promote literacy in Wyoming, Dana has aligned the LRCC strategic plan with that of the College of Education, and UW more broadly, to drive excellence, to inspire students and to impact positively schools and communities,” Brock says. “Dana’s goal is to help communities develop self-sustaining mechanisms for continued growth, which means the professional development approaches employed must be co-constructed with the individuals or entities that seek to work with the LRCC.”
Former Wyoming first lady Carol Mead, who was instrumental in the development of the LRCC, notes that Robertson has recruited top graduate students, engaged in timely literacy research and has administered the LRCC with strong leadership.
“He has attracted renowned faculty to the endowed chairs, extending the capacity of the LRCC and the University of Wyoming College of Education,” she says.
Susan Jerke, a regional director of the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network, received the Marvin Millgate Engaged Staff Award; Annaliese Fitzsimmons, of Greybull, received the Marvin Millgate Engaged Student Award; and the Excellence in Community Partnership Award was won by Wyoming Humanities.