NOSC Conference Breaks Records, Sets Momentum
The National Outreach Scholarship Conference held this fall was full of historic firsts. UA was the first non-land grant university to host the conference. A record 613 registrants came from 39 states, as well as Canada, Egypt and Nigeria. Presenters and co-presenters came from 84 colleges and universities and 47 community organizations. Community partners from 14 states attended, also a record. Especially thrilling to organizers were the numbers of students and smaller organizations participating this year.
From the beginning, Dr. Samory T. Pruitt, UA vice president for community affairs, urged conference planners to come up with a “different” conference from past NOSCs, which had been attended primarily by faculty, administrators and large foundations.
“It (the conference) was years in the making with the detailed planning and implementation having been a part of our daily business lives for so long, but the results were tremendous. We had more institutions represented than ever before – thanks to a dynamic program and superior marketing efforts. We surpassed every goal we set for the conference – from student and community partner participation to making sure every participant experienced all the things that make The University of Alabama such a welcoming, vibrant community of scholars,” Pruitt said.
“The conference had record numbers of students and community partners who participated. Increasing participation among these groups was one of our main goals,” said Janet Griffith, assistant provost for communications and chair of the planning committee for the conference.
“Our track system, along with student registration incentives, special rates for community organizations, and assistance with travel and lodging, resulted in a different kind of conference, where students, community partners and young scholars joined veteran scholars and administrators in what was not only the largest but youngest and most diverse NOSC in its 13-year history,” according to Pruitt.
This fall, NOSC was renamed the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) to better reflect the international scope of the organization. The list of member universities continues to grow with at least three new members added in the weeks leading up to the conference.
Pruitt was elected vice president of the ESC Board during the board meeting at the conference. “His leadership on the board further underscores the University’s leadership role in engaged scholarship,” said Griffith.
After the conference UA President Judy Bonner, deans and vice presidents met to discuss building on the momentum from the conference as UA raises its profile as an engaged institution. By enhancing existing programs and creating new ones, UA can pursue benchmarks such as the national C. Peter Magrath University Community Engage-ment Award.
“We will also have the opportunity in 2013 to apply for reaffirmation of our Carnegie status as an engaged institution and that will provide us opportunities to review our progress and plan for the future,” Griffith said.
“While the conference itself may be over, the renewed commitment and enthusiasm for engaged scholarship on our campus is just beginning,” said Pruitt.