Faculty’s work with UP Program recognized with community engagement award

The Engagement Scholarship Consortium has chosen Western Carolina University as the recipient of its Excellence in Faculty Community Engagement Award for its work with the University Participant Program.

ESC is a resource for higher education institutions and their faculty, staff, students and community partners focused on promoting excellence in the scholarship and practice of engaged scholarship locally and globally. The award recognizes a higher education institution and its exemplary contribution to engaged scholarship. WCU will receive the award during ESC’s 2019 annual conference in Denver on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

“National recognition from the Engagement Scholarship Consortium is a testament to the excellence that has come to define the University Participant Program and WCU in the community engagement arena,” Acting Provost Carol Burton said. “The Excellence in Faculty Community Engagement Award recognizes the difference we are making in the lives of members of our community, locally and nationally, and reflects WCU’s long held mission of public service. I commend the program directors, student leaders and staff for their dedication to this special population.”

University Participant Program co-director David Westling (right) poses with a UP student who received her certificate for completing the program.

The UP Program is a fully inclusive, two-year post-secondary education program for college-age people with an intellectual disability. Its purpose is to facilitate independent, inclusive community living and working for those individuals in their post-UP community. The program began in 2007. Students live in campus residence halls, attend three or four classes per semester, work at least 10 hours a week in internships or on paid jobs, and participate in a wide range of campus and community social activities.

WCU faculty members have played a large role in the program’s success, said UP Program co-director Kelly R. Kelley.

“The WCU faculty has been incredible to work with over the past 12 years,” Kelley said. “They are eager to include UP students in their courses and accommodate a variety of university teaching strategies. We are very fortunate to have such a caring and inclusive community at Western Carolina University.”

History associate professor Alex Macaulay said, “The UP Program helps make Western Carolina University a place where UP students find and gain a sense of community and belonging. As social and educational institutions, colleges and universities should strive to promote inclusiveness, broaden students’ experiences and enrich people’s lives. This is exactly what the WCU UP Program does by facilitating the development of strong individuals and citizens.”

For more information on the program, visit this website.