Announcing the New Faculty Chair of Community-Engaged Learning

The Center for Social Impact is delighted to announce that Dr. Ashley Byun, Associate Professor of Biology, has been selected to serve as the Faculty Chair of Community-Engaged Learning, effective July 1, 2022. Since 2012, Dr. Byun and her students have collaborated with Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, creating and executing various research projects as part of her Vertebrate Zoology community-engaged learning course. With her partners at the Zoo, Dr. Byun created the R.I.Z.E. (Research, Internships, and Zoo Education) program, a unique model for undergraduate community-engaged learning and research that has resulted in more than 25 peer reviewed poster presentations at national conferences, such as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums conference, and several published manuscripts. In addition to her local work with the Zoo, Dr. Byun has designed and led an international community-engaged learning experience in Brazil, where she and her students support the work of local conservation NGOs to study and protect endangered wildlife. To recognize her commitment to community-engaged learning, in 2021 Dr. Byun was presented the Jeffrey P. von Arx Award for Faculty Community Engagement. As an accomplished researcher and dedicated STEM educator, the Center is eager to welcome the expertise and perspective that Dr. Byun can bring to the community-engaged learning program.

The Center extends its gratitude to Dr. Betsy Bowen, Professor of English, who has served as Faculty Chair of Community-Engaged Learning since 2018. Dr. Bowen’s fifteen years of experience teaching community-engaged learning courses has been a tremendous asset to the CEL program. Her mentorship has resulted in 18 new community-engaged learning courses, taught by faculty from 15 academic departments from across the University. Under her leadership, the program was able to offer consistent support and professional development to faculty while also remaining flexible and adaptive to the needs of our campus learning community. The community-engaged learning program has been able to contribute its unique lens to ongoing pedagogical developments such as the Magis Core, anti-racist pedagogy, and hybrid learning and remote engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Bowen’s institutional knowledge has also been invaluable in her mentorship of junior faculty in the rank and tenure process.

Please join us in our congratulations and welcome to Dr. Byun and our deepest gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Bowen! 

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For more information, contact Andrea Canuel / Ext. 3393 /