The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) is pleased to announce that Lina Dostilio, University of Pittsburgh, and Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson, Virginia Wesleyan University, have both been awarded a 2021 Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award, an award that recognizes the growing need for leaders who are grounded in research-informed practice at urban-based institutions of higher education.

Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson, Virginia Wesleyan University

Deirdre Gonsalves-Jackson Ph.D. serves as dean of VWU Global Campus and is an associate professor of biology at Virginia Wesleyan University. As dean, she oversees and promotes programs that serve a diversity of nontraditional and under-served populations through online degree programs, VWU Global (Japan), continuing education, the Advanced Scholars/Dual-Credit program, and other forms of non-traditional educational opportunities.

STEM outreach is a major component of Gonsalves-Jackson’s research. She has secured over $1.5 million in grants through collaborative research in marine biology and STEM outreach initiatives. And, she has developed well-established grant-funded programs that attract, retain and graduate talented underrepresented groups in STEM. Her research focuses on opisthobranch mollusks (sea slugs) from the tropical Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean and on biodiversity and feeding specificity of opisthobranchs and sponges in the Chesapeake Bay.

“I am grateful and honored to be the recipient of this award as this distinction reflects my commitment to, and the importance of, STEM outreach initiatives in urban communities that support and provide underserved and nontraditional groups with transformative educational opportunities,” said Gonsalves-Jackson.

Gonsalves-Jackson has made major strides in recruiting and retaining underrepresented groups to STEM fields and has established new partnerships with Norfolk-area schools, developed new lab courses, provided mentoring and shadowing opportunities, and developed summer programs to bring local students to campus to encourage their persistence in STEM.

Undertaking projects and teaching courses in marine biology in an urban setting can be somewhat of an anomaly says Gonsalves-Jackson.

“Being able to expose students to their outdoor laboratory, the Atlantic Ocean, has been one of the most rewarding endeavors I have experienced. I hope to continue to serve as a scholar-leader for all future scientists who never imagined themselves in that role,” said Gonsalves-Jackson.

Phoebe Haddon, Chancellor Emerita of Rutgers University–Camden and a member of the selection committee, supported the candidacy of Gonsalves-Jackson “because of her remarkable determination and leadership in advancing the interests of students on campus and of residents in the community, including encouraging workforce development that has had broad community impact.”

Lina Dostilio, University of Pittsburgh

Lina Dostilio Ed.D. serves as vice chancellor of engagement and community affairs and is a faculty member in the School Education at University of Pittsburgh. As vice chancellor, Dostilio sets and advances University of Pittsburgh’s community engagement agenda and catalyzes community-facing efforts across the University, including place-based engagement efforts, engaged scholarship, strategic partnership development, and community affairs. Her research explores the community engagement professional in higher education and hyperlocal, place-based engagement.

“Each of the urban universities I’ve served are deeply rooted in place. At the University of Pittsburgh, we prioritize place-based engagement and have a legacy of partnering with our neighbors to tackle the challenges facing our city and region,” said Dostilio. “The Holland Award is so special because it recognizes the important work of community engagement professionals in helping to lead place-making in scholarly and strategic ways.”

Dostilio initiated and led Campus Compact’s Project on the Community Engagement Professional, a national research project staffed by 19 research fellows that produced “The Community Engagement Professional in Higher Education: A Competency Model for an Emerging Field” (Stylus Publishing, 2017) and “The Community Engagement Professional Guidebook” (Stylus Publishing, 2019). This work established a professional identity for higher education community engagement practitioners, provided the foundation for the credentialing of community engagement professionals, and has launched a body of research exploring the intersection of these professional roles and the evolution of community engagement in higher education.

In 2019, Dostilio was announced as CUMU’s first research fellow and completed a benchmarking study to catalog the diversity of hyperlocal engagement strategies and to investigate which areas of community capacity were of interest to hyperlocal engagements.

Tom George, Chancellor Emeritus of University of Missouri–St. Louis and a member of the selection committee, supported the candidacy of Dostilio for the award, noting her “credentials and accomplishments are truly outstanding. With her superb track record combining scholarly and administrative programs, she is most deserving of the Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award.  Lina is recognized nationally in connection with community engagement and exemplifies the characteristics that CUMU expects and cherishes from its members, both at the institutional and individual level.”