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>> I'm Kaprea Johnson and you are listening to the Leadership Podcast, where we delve into the stories, strategies, and insights of experienced leaders, who have successfully navigated the challenges and triumphs of their journey. Get ready to be inspired, equipped, and empowered to lead with confidence and purpose. Today, we have Dr. Ryan Schmiesing, who is the Senior Vice Provost for External Engagement here at the Ohio State University. Ryan, can you briefly explain your role as the Senior Vice Provost for External Engagement and the relationship with community engagement?
>> Sure, first of all, it's great to be here and I'm thrilled that you invited me to participate. So, my role with External Engagement has four main components. One is I provide overall leadership for our regional campuses, that as you know are open access institutions primarily -- or open access campuses primarily serving undergraduate students, many of which transition here to the Columbus campus at some point, but also stay on the regional campuses for four years, in some cases. And the regional campuses really are anchor institutions in their own right, within our communities in Ohio, and are really, really important to the work we do. I also oversee the Office of Outreach and Engagement, which I'll talk more about here in a minute. International Affairs, which if you think about International Affairs, it's really about external engagement and community engagement because it's about bringing people to campus. It's about supporting research and creative expression and scholarly activities, not only here in central Ohio, but around the world.
So, we're engaging communities all over the globe. And then I oversee the sustainability institute which has a very strong component, being responsive to the community, engaging the community, in terms of its research. Overall, within External Engagement, our goal is to better serve our city, state, region, and country, and the world through our teaching, learning, and research. So, if you think about those things, we are best informed in all of these cases, and many times by our partnership and engagement with the community. However, we define that. That could be a community as in terms of a neighborhood. It could be a community organization. It could be a community of businesses. It could be a community of nonprofits. It could be a community of public service organizations, elected officials, whatever that means, it's our faculty and staff are engaging with those individuals to be inform their work to help them solve the problems that they've identified themselves in their community.
>> Fantastic. Thank you so much for that overview. And I don't thing I knew that, you know, the idea of engagement was that expansive and broad. So, thank you--
>> -for that.
>> Could you share some successful examples of community engagement initiatives or projects here at OSU?
>> Yes, that's a great question, and where I'm going to focus it is on some of our regional or national award winners. But I would say first that we have literally hundreds upon hundreds of community engagement initiatives at the very local level of our colleges and units, and centers and institutes that are led by faculty and staff. And they're doing tremendous work with their community partners. We do have a number of initiatives that have been recognized on the regional or national level that I think are exemplars for us. One is the LiFEsports Programs. Our LiFEsports is run out of the College of Social Work, but in partnership with OSU Athletics and a number of other colleges and units, engaging young people in sport, to teach life skills. They were recognized as a Regional Kellogg Foundational Award Winner a few years ago.
Also recognized as a regional winner this year in a Kellogg Competition was the Columbus Free Clinic out of the College of Medicine in partnership with a number of other colleges and units that operates a free clinic here in Central Ohio at Columbus, providing much needed healthcare services to a variety of generally underserved populations in Central Ohio. It's a tremendous program. Generation RX out of the College of Pharmacy, recognized a number of years ago through our engaged scholarship consortium. Generation RX focuses on the proper use of medications. They have a number of partnerships on campus as well, through OSU Extension The 4H Youth Development Program. But just a tremendous program. Community Health Worker Program out of the College of Nursing, recognized as a national award winner. The staff member who leads that, associated faculty member I believe, clinical faculty member in nursing, who leads that program was recognized this year for her work.
And then you have just a host of other things happening, really at the college level that we've been fortunate enough to recognize. College of Medicine, Wexner Medical Center was named a national award winner for their community engagement through one of their national associations a couple years ago. Doing tremendous work on -- in Central Ohio through the PACT Organization and many other initiatives. College of Pharmacy recognized by their national association as the -- an award winning, engaged college. And of course, you have OSU Extension and the many programs that touch so many lives across the state through their program areas of agriculture, natural resources, community development, 4H Youth development, family consumer sciences, and many other things. And they are consistently recognized in their national organizations for their exemplary work. I could go on and on. The important thing for me to recognize is that so many of these initiatives that I commented on, are partnerships not only internally, through -- it may be led by a college or unit, but there's partnerships with others.
Then most importantly is there's mutually beneficial partnerships with the community, because that's what makes them the most impactful, which has led to many of them being recognized within their association or within national organizations or regional organizations.
>> Absolutely. Wow, this is tremendous. There is so much good work happening at OSU, and it seems like they put the community first, which I think is a good kind of format to follow in thinking about community engagement.
>> How do you see the future of community engagement in higher education, and what role should it play in shaping the higher education landscape?
>> So, I think your last comment about putting the community first is really, really important to us. So, we know the narrative and the dialogue around the value of a degree from an institution or university, right? And we've heard a lot of commentary about is it worth it for a young person to go get a four-year degree. Community engagement can help I think, further demonstrate the value of the institution of higher education more broadly to communities and to organizations to help with that overcoming some of that negative narrative that's out there about us. So, first of all, I believe very strongly that community engagement is critical for the future of higher education. We have to be engaged in our communities. We have to be engaged in the neighborhoods that surround us. If we're an Ohio State University that's a Research [inaudible] Land Grant Institution, we have a mandate to engage with the State of Ohio.
So, to me, it's critically important for our future. Just as our research is, just as our teaching undergraduate and graduate and professional students is critical, community engagement's really, really important, I believe for our future. And we have a lot of ways to demonstrate that value. First of all, I think to your earlier point, there has to be mutual benefit to both us as an organization, but more importantly to the community that we're engaged with. And actually, I would argue that the benefit has to tip to the side of the community. So, it's not just about the institution and what research we might do in a community, or what teaching we might do in partnership the community. It is about the community identifying the problems and the issues that they want to solve, and us coming alongside them with knowledge and expertise and resources to help them do that. If we can get that right, it really demonstrates the value of having an institution of higher education, whether it sits here in Columbus, or one of our regional campuses, or across the state.
We have to be honest, I think, in the future with what we're capable of doing and what we're not. While Ohio State is a large, large organization, we can't help solve every problem. We don't have all of the expertise to address every issue that might emerge from the community. So, I think we have to be honest in the future of where can we be involved? Where are our strengths? What are the priorities that we see that match those of the community to help address those? And be honest with the community when we can't, and help them identify resources that maybe can help them. And then as I said, there is this idea that we have to center the voice of the community in all of these conversations. The idea that as an institution, we decide what the problem is, and then we go to you and say, "This is how -- this is what your problem is, and this is how you solve it." That's not going to work in the future. If we can get to the point of coming alongside organizations and communities who have identified the problem, and maybe we have to help with that, but they're leading these, and we're in true partnership, then I think the future's very bright for higher education.
I think it's very bright for community engagement. But if we don't do those things, we're going to continue to struggle with the narrative of, "What is the value of an institution of higher education?"
>> Thank you for that. And you know, that really hits home because I do. I mean, even if you think about just social media, there's so many comments and thoughts, especially coming up from the new people about you know, "Why even bother to go to college?"
>> And, "What's the point?" But if we're involved and engaged in their community from the beginning and they see us there--
>> That's right.
>> -they might want to think about, you know, going to that university who supported my after-school program. I mean, what a great way to--
>> That's right.
>> -[inaudible] be engaged. All right. What advice do you have for higher education administrators looking to enhance their college or program community engagement efforts?
>> Yes, so some of this goes back to my previous answer to the question, but I can expand on it a little bit here. So, areas that I often talk about when we're talking whether it's with faculty or administrators or others interested in the idea of community engagement, how they grow it, expand upon it, improve it, is one, it takes time. Building relationship with community is time intensive and long in some cases. You don't just walk into a community organization or a neighborhood and say, "I'm going to -- I'm here to do this for you or with you, and let's get started." You have to build trust, and everything moves at the speed of trust. Second of all, I would say that faculty and staff really want to be engaged in this. I don't find people very often, and maybe it's just because of the work I do across the university who aren't interested in it. They want to know how their work can be applied to help solve and address community issues outside the walls of the institution.
So, people want to be engaged in this. There's a continuum. Oftentimes, in my world, we hear about community engagement and people immediately will go to the notion that, "Well, true, real engagement is community member participatory research." So, the community members helping design the research. They're participating in the research. That is a form. But we also have to acknowledge that there's many ways faculty and staff are engaged. That is one method that faculty are engaged. But we also know, they're giving lectures. They're being asked to consult with organizations. They're delivering educational programs. They're doing program assessment. They may be partnering on research. So, recognize there's a continuum of engagement of how somebody could engage. And it's going to look different by discipline. So, don't go in one discipline and say, "Well, we can't do that because that's not how our discipline is." No, you should design community engagement from the perspective of your discipline.
Recognize the work, and I don't mean just through promotion and tenure, although I love to see how we continue to advance and colleges and units recognizing this impactful work. But recognize it in terms of annual performance reviews. Recognize it through awards and formal recognition in colleges and units, because that raises the profile. It demonstrates that we value it. The last thing I would say is we have to be focused, right? It goes back to what I said earlier that we can't be everything to all people, and that as we think about community engagement at a college level, there are going to be programs that you really want to focus on. That's where you want to put your resources, because then you can demonstrate impact. And I would encourage colleges and units to continue to identify areas of strength that they have that they think can then be applied to help partner with community organizations.
>> Exactly. Thank you for that. And the last point, you know, that you made about demonstrating impact, I think that [inaudible] connect to like the promotion and tenure thing, and the review [inaudible] as well, as well as awards. You know, do you have any thoughts on how to demonstrate impact? Do we demonstrate impact on the community we serve? Do we demonstrate impact on the students who were involved on the professor who led everything? You know, I read an autoethnography and it was a professor talking about their community engagement work [inaudible]. And I thought, "Oh, this is -- this is fantastic. I mean, I love kind of hearing this narrative." But then, you know, I wonder right, like was that counted as highly as their other publications? Did they look at it the same way? Was it valued in the same way, because it's from their perspective? But I wonder if you have any thoughts on that?
>> Right, so that's the million-dollar question in a lot of this is, "How do we evaluate engagement, right?" And then how do you recognize it, and then if you think just in the promotion and tenure process. So, if you -- if you look at dossiers of a lot of our faculty who are really engaged in this and are quite successful, you will see their work is being shared through peer review publications, whether it be journals or other outlets, conferences, invited talks, all of those types of things. So, to me that's no different than how we share other work that we're doing. There are highly complex reports completed, studies completed in partnership with organizations that then go on to be peer reviewed. There are ways that you assess programs to demonstrate impact, and then document it. It's actual real change to behavior.
We know here at Ohio State, that colleges and units continue to evolve in terms of recognizing the contributions that a faculty member is having with their community partners. Again, it looks different by discipline, and that's why it's really important for colleges and units to look at their disciplines, how do they carry out engaged scholarship? How do they recognize it? And we see across the country, there's some really good examples of institutions that are providing leadership in this area. We're seeing it at Ohio State. But it's really driven by discipline and that's why I'm hesitant always to say, "This is what it will look like in a dossier," because that's only one example, and there could be many.
>> Great point, yes. I mean, it really does go back into really at the college level really thinking thoroughly about how we will assess and evaluate [inaudible] think about the impact. What does impact mean for our college, or even down to our program?
>> That's right. That's right.
>> Well, as we conclude, can you provide a glimpse into any upcoming community engagement opportunities?
>> Right. So, here at Ohio State, there's a number really, in my mind, exciting things happening that we've been focused on for a number of years. When I came into my previous role in outreach and engagement, I really wanted to do a couple things. One is I wanted to raise the profile of the work of our faculty and staff through our regular newsletter communications, and we have a dynamic one there that we continue to highlight and recognize individuals for their great work. I wanted to raise up the opportunities to recognize formally our faculty and staff, and we've created a number of new -- of Word programs. We're very active supporting faculty and staff. And applications for several national awards. And the third thing I wanted to do was really clarify our grants program and make sure we're supporting the faculty doing impactful work with our community partners. Those things are all going to continue, but there's new things coming on that -- are underway now.
New grant opportunities through International Affairs, Department with Global Gateway. So, we're in the process of evaluating applicants for that. It's a new funding stream that we added this year in partnership with International Affairs, Global Gateways, to really allow faculty to carry out their research efforts in community and in some of those countries. We have an asset mapping project going on that's really going to start looking at, "Where do we have impactful community engagement programs?" We can start to see where they're at. So, we hope sometime in the first or second quarter of next year, to be able to share more about that. You'll see more and more about communities of practice. We're really putting a focus on that. There's one underway in the arts led by Susan Malsoff [phonetic] really bringing people together that have a common interest around the arts, faculty, so they can begin to talk about the challenges and the opportunities both here within the institution and externally.
And we'll see some other communities of practice forming under Jason Reece and Nicole Nieto's [inaudible] work. And we have a faculty fellow working on that. And then hopefully, as we move forward, we're going to see more coordinated grant opportunities. You know, we have a number of grant opportunities to support community engagement that we lead out of outreach and engagement. So, we're trying to make sure [inaudible] and raise up these opportunities with Outreach and Engagement, the Global Arts and Humanities Discover Theme, Sustainability Institute, International Affairs. They all have elements of engagement, community engagement, so we want to make sure that we're sharing those in a way that faculty can see where they best fit. So, those things are coming along in the next quarter to two quarters probably of the calendar year. But, really important for me, and you'll continue to see this, is how are we recognizing from our office the great work that our faculty and staff do?
Because I believe as we do that, from our office, it helps elevate the conversation across the university.
>> Fantastic. And what a nice way to conclude. Thank you again for joining me and discussing this very important topic. If people have questions, additional questions, or thoughts, should they just go directly to the website, or -- what would be best?
>> Yes. Yes. Absolutely. Our website lists all of our leadership within external engagement. If it's around the arts, it's Lisa Florman. If it's community engagement, [inaudible] engagement is Jason Reece. The regional campus, obviously if they're interested and each one of those have a dean. International Affairs, we just welcomed a new Vice Provost, Kaya Sahin. He's very interested in this as well. But you can find all of those things on the website, and we're always interested in faculty, staff, and others reaching out, connecting with us to see how we can best support their work.
>> Fantastic. Well, thank you again for joining us, and have a great rest of your day.
>> Thank you. So nice to be here with you today.
>> The Leadership Podcast is produced by The Ohio State University's Office of Faculty Affairs. For more information, visit us at faculty.osu.edu. I'm your host, Kaprea Johnson. Thanks for listening, and we will see you next time.