Tarleton Engaged Scholars Academy announces inaugural cohort

The inaugural cohort of faculty members participating in Tarleton's Engaged Scholars Academy are (l-r) Dr. Melissa Becker, Art Dearing, Dr. Randy Harp, Dr. Natalie Jones and Jean Montgomery.

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STEPHENVILLE (July 15, 2015) — The Center for Academic Outreach and Engagement at Tarleton State University recently announced its inaugural cohort of faculty participating in the Engaged Scholars Academy, a professional development program designed to promote best practices and encourage scholarship as they interact with colleagues and experts nationwide.

Five faculty representing each of Tarleton’s five academic colleges were selected to participate in this spring’s Engaged Scholars Academy, including Dr. Melissa Becker, associate professor of education; Art Dearing, assistant professor of computer information systems; Dr. Randy Harp, professor of animal sciences; Dr. Nathalie Jones, assistant professor of social work; and Jean Montgomery, assistant professor of nursing.

“Tarleton’s Engaged Scholars Academy is a professional development program for university faculty desiring to further integrate service learning into university courses, enrich learning through community partnerships and engage in scholarship directly benefiting society,” said Dr. Denae Dorris, director of the Center of Academic Outreach & Engagement. “By participating in the academy, Engaged Scholars transform course content by developing mutually-beneficial partnerships with external collaborators, resulting in real-world experiences for students.”

Deans from the academic colleges nominated faculty for consideration and, upon selection into the academy, faculty members signed a letter of commitment. The academy began during the spring semester with workshops continuing through the summer and fall terms. Results of the scholars’ research will be produced by late fall 2015, Dorris explained.

Upon completion of the professional development program, Engaged Scholars will be encouraged to become peer coaches for future cohorts to advance and support engaged scholarship universitywide. The second cohort of Engaged Scholars will be selected from nominations submitted by the college deans this summer and announced in early fall.

Spring 2015 Engaged Scholars:
Dr. Becker is an associate professor of education in the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum & Instruction and serves as the coordinator of teacher education at Tarleton’s Fort Worth campus. She is currently exploring ways new immigrants assimilate to an urban culture. In partnership with the International Newcomer Academy, Dr. Becker is involving pre-service educators and cross-disciplinary faculty to research the effect of educational strategies and supports on immigrant assimilation into public school settings.

Mr. Dearing serves as an assistant professor in the College of Business Administration’s Department of Computer Information Systems. In partnership with FMC Technologies, city governments and area schools districts, he is exploring the employment trends and demands seen among network administrators, while also assisting organizations with network security and computer forensics needs. Mr. Dearing currently is conducting an exploratory study on the effectiveness of data breach laws. His scholarly interests encourage student teams to participate in information technology competitions nationwide.

Dr. Harp serves as a professor of animal sciences within the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences. Dr. Harp currently is involved in more than 10 ongoing research projects at the university. He is engaging students in research that evaluates the effect of fence-line contact at weaning for performance in beef calves in the southwestern region of the United States. Dr. Harp’s commitment to engaged scholarship provides animal science students with a variety of applied learning experiences, which directly serve beef producers’ needs across the southwest U.S.

Dr. Jones, representing the College of Liberal & Fine Arts, is an assistant professor of social work with 15 years of field experience. Dr. Jones’ current engagement efforts include exploring a partnership between social work students and the International Newcomer Academy (INA). Through this partnership with INA, she will assess the impact of service learning on social work practice skills, while simultaneously researching the traits of successful and sustainable community-university research partnerships.

Ms. Montgomery is an assistant professor of nursing within the College of Science & Technology’s Department of Nursing. Ms. Montgomery contributes her expertise as an active leader in various community health initiatives. Her commitment to community-based participatory research, in partnership with Texas Health Resources – Stephenville, is enabling community members, organizational representatives and university researchers to evaluate the impact of implementing childhood obesity programs on childhood health and parent education.

To learn more about Tarleton’s Center for Academic Outreach & Engagement, visit www.tarleton.edu/aoe.

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