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OSU recognized for exemplary effort in community engagement

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Washington, D.C.— Oklahoma State University has been honored by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) for its community engagement efforts.

APLU recognized six institutions, four award finalists and two exemplary designees, for extraordinary community outreach initiatives, this month. OSU was included in the class of exemplary designees based on a partnership with community agencies serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to provide research-informed community action for these individuals and their families.

group of students and faculty gather on the stairs for a picture

This marks the second time in three years that OSU has been honored as part of this APLU awards program. OSU was one of four regional winners of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award in 2017 before being selected as the sole national winner of the 2017 C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship for a health collaborative between the Department of Nutritional Sciences and the Chickasaw Nation. The award recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities.

“We are extremely proud of this recognition,” Dr. Jorge Atiles, coordinator of the OSU University Network on Community Engagement, said. “We continue to build on our efforts to maximize our ability to partner and effect positive impacts in communities and in student learning and success. Dr. Jennifer Jones’ work with the developmental disability community is indeed exemplary and has also been recognized in the recent past by Campus Compact.”

OSU’s honored project, Engagement to Improve the Lives of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, is spearheaded by Jones, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. Jones and her team work with an advocacy group for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to monitor quality of life for individuals living in state-supported residential housing.  

Because intellectual and developmental disabilities can manifest differently, OSU student-volunteers conducting interviews are trained to expect these behavioral patterns to ensure resources match needs. Before conducting their first review, students participate in extensive background and training sessions. Jones and her volunteer students have made possible more than 500 reviews of residential settings. OSU’s work in this area also extends to providing horse therapy for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through its partnership with Turning Point Ranch, OSU helps more individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive horse therapy – which research shows has significant benefits for the population. The partnership has also made possible the co-creation of several presentations and peer-reviewed publications.

“Public universities across North America are working hard to bolster partnerships addressing the urgent challenges facing their communities,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Community engagement is a core mission for public universities. We congratulate this year’s Magrath Award finalists and exemplary designees for their exceptional work, which is at the leading edge of community engagement efforts. These institutions show the true power of public universities to help transform lives and improve communities within their state.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Christy Lang | College of Human Sciences | 405-744-9740 |

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