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Health Center Today, December 2, 2010

Public Engagement Award Winners Announced

Health Centerís Ann Ferris Wins Faculty Honor

By Michael Kirk

Photo of Robert L. McCarthy and Ann Ferris

Robert L. McCarthy, Dean of the School of Pharmacy, presenting Ann Ferris with faculty award.

UConnís fifth annual Awards for Excellence in Public Engagement were presented November 29 in the Wilbur Cross Reading Room. The awards were created to recognize and underscore the critical role of outreach and public engagement in the land grant mission, and to foster engagement across the entire University community.

Selection committees each year are composed of Pubic Engagement Forum members, prior nominees, and students. A total of 41 nominations were received this year.

The criteria the committees consider include: sustained leadership in working with the public and/or with external organizations; innovative ways of working for the well being of citizens and communities; documented excellence in extending University knowledge; evidence of the impact on a target audience; demonstrated intellectual, professional, and/or career growth as a result of the experience.

The winners were:

Faculty Award
Ann Ferris, Public Health and Health Policy, School of Medicine, Farmington
Ferris has been part of the UConn community for 32 years. Her teaching, research, and outreach focus on low-income families and underprivileged individuals. In her capacity as director of the Healthy Communities Initiative at the Center for Public Health and Health Policy, she has been able to initiate and implement numerous outreach programs, such as how to reduce childhood obesity and diseases. She also involves undergraduate and graduate students in her initiatives, and has a partnership with more than 25 agencies in the Hartford community.

Staff Award
Reesa Olins, STEP Program and Alumni Relations, School of Social Work, West Hartford
Olins is the executive program director of outreach, continuing education, and alumni relations at the School of Social Work. She is also the principal investigator for Clinical Issues in Adoption: A Post Masterís Certificate Program. This program has been modeled by other states concerned with child welfare and adoption practices. Her work in this area brings together many constituencies at the local, state, and national levels.

Graduate Student Award
Michael Zacchea, Business Administration, School of Business, Stamford
Zacchea is pursuing an MBA at the School of Business in Stamford. A veteran himself, he helped fellow veterans through the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.

Undergraduate Student Award
Michael Baczewski, Department of Public Policy, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Storrs
Baczewski is an urban and community studies major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He received the award for making great strides with engagement in a number of areas on campus and beyond, specifically demonstrating volunteerism and engagement in service as well as political arenas, most notably serving as a member of the Board of Education for the Town of Berlin.

Program Award
VoTer Center, Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, Storrs
The VoTer Center was established in 2006 as a partnership with the Office of the Connecticut Secretary of State. The center not only provides technical expertise to the State of Connecticut in electronic voting technology, but it also provides valuable contributions and resources to ensure that Connecticut citizensí voices are heard.

Photo of Amy Hanoian-Fontana

Amy Hanoian-Fontana, staff award finalist.

Photo of Neena Qasba

Neena Qasba, graduate student finalist.

There were three Health Center finalists:

Staff Award Finalist
Amy Hanoian-Fontana, Traumatology and Emergency Medicine/School of Medicine

Graduate Student Finalist
Neena Qasba, School of Medicine

Program Award Finalist
Aetna Health Profession Partnership Initiative, Health Center and Greater Hartford Campus, West Hartford

For more on the Universityís outreach and public engagement efforts, visit the public engagement website.