Kimberly Dennis and Ashley Kistler take home the top faculty awards for engaged scholarship and research, respectively.
Kimberly Dennis and Ashley Kistler take home the top faculty awards for engaged scholarship and research, respectively. (Photo by Micki Meyer) On November 7, two members of the Rollins faculty, Assistant Professor of Art History Kimberly Dennis and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Ashley Kistler, were honored by Florida Campus Compact at a gala at Palm Beach State College in Boca Raton. Florida Campus Compact (FL|CC) is an organization that seeks to connect students to civic and social responsibility; the awards recognize these faculty members’ commitment to service- and community-based learning in their respective fields.
Dennis received the Engaged Scholarship Faculty Award for her service work in the women’s studies field. Dennis’s Introduction to Women’s Studies course offers students “opportunities to work with individuals from the Orlando community whose social identities and life experiences often differ greatly from their own,” she wrote in a professional summary submitted as part of her application for this award. The organizations students are paired with as part of the course include the Center for Drug Free Living, Pace Center for Girls, and the Hope CommUnity Center, among others. “Students must invest much more of themselves in these service projects than in any research paper, and they must process the connections between the course material and their on-site experiences on several levels.”
This marks the seventh straight year that a Rollins faculty member has won this award in the Independent Colleges and Universities category—which is especially remarkable considering that these awards are only in their seventh year.
Kistler’s Engaged Scholarship Research Award, on the other hand, marks Rollins’ first win in this category. This award honors scholars for outstanding research in the field of service learning and engaged scholarship. For the last seven years, Kistler has been engaging the local community of San Juan Chamelco, Guatemala, in a collaborative ethnographic project that seeks to "investigate and revitalize Chamelco’s ethnohistory and the story of Aj Pop B’atz’, the town’s 16th-century founder and culture hero,” she wrote in her application. “Connecting to Aj Pop B’atz’, Chamelqueños legitimize their role in Guatemala’s political landscape through the legacy of their past.”
Her work has led the local government to create an annual holiday honoring Aj Pop B’atz’, Chamelco’s town founder. In 2010, Kistler organized a public talk about his life for 500 schoolchildren and an ethnohistoric symposium about his life and an article in the Journal of Family History, as well as a children’s book on the subject. “My engaged scholarship in Guatemala has also led me to rethink the way in which I practice service learning in my classes at Rollins College,” she wrote.
This rethinking led to a service-learning project in which students recorded the family histories of older adults in Winter Park and compiled family portfolios for all participants. More recently, students delivered a lecture series on Maya culture at retirement communities throughout the Orlando area.
“Our faculty continue to be recognized for engaged scholarship by their peers and experts in the field,” says Lord Family Director of Community Engagement Micki Meyer. “Their dedication directly supports the mission of our college and quality of community engagement that Rollins is known for on a national level. We celebrate their accomplishments and commitment to excellence in teaching and research.”