The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) is pleased to announce that Lynn E. Pelco, Ph.D., has been awarded the 2020 Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award, an award that recognizes the growing need for research-informed leadership in higher education.

In her virtual acceptance of the award, Pelco shared, “This award is so important because it shines a spotlight on the scholarly approach that many university administrators are taking in their community engagement work. In community engagement offices around the country, scholar-administrators are actively contributing to their university’s research and teaching missions, they are collaborating across disciplines and sectors in innovative ways that address pressing societal needs…the Barbara Holland Scholar-Administrator award reminds us why forward-thinking institutions are recommitting to their community engagement missions.”

The Holland Scholar Award is typically presented in-person at the CUMU Annual Conference. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s award was presented virtually. View the presentation by Tom George, chancellor emeritus, University of Missouri–St. Louis, and former CUMU president.

Pelco serves as associate vice provost for community engagement at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Pelco joined VCU in 2008 as director of VCU Service Learning and was promoted to her current role in 2012. Additionally, Pelco holds the position of affiliate professor of counseling and special education in the School of Education. She earned her MS and Ph.D. in school psychology from The Pennsylvania State University and was a post-doctoral fellow at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the department of behavioral psychology.

Lynn shared that her personal history had significant influence on her leadership approach. She was one of the first in her family to attend college and experienced some of the many ways that campuses undermine female, first-generation, and low-income students. Pelco’s experience working with racially and economically diverse students experiencing mental and physical health challenges allowed her to appreciate some of the privileges she enjoyed, but also solidified the importance and power of assets-based approaches to building inclusive learning communities.

Pelco is committed to developing the next generation of campus and community leaders. She guides development of her office’s operating budget to ensure that it aligns with university priorities, including improving underrepresented minority student graduation rates and building faculty capacity for participating in community-university partnerships.

Additionally, Pelco established a graduate and undergraduate service-learning teaching assistant program in 2009. Annually, this program trains more than 80 students, helping VCU strive towards its institutional community-engagement priorities. Pelco demonstrates through her work that she effectively uses scholarship to guide these administrative decisions.

Pelco was nominated by David Timberline, project manager for the Center for Community Engagement and Impact (CEI) at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“She is an innovative and rigorous scholar as well as a compassionate and creative administrator. She embodies Dr. Holland’s commitment to effective community engagement,” said Timberline.

Another recommender stated, “I cannot possibly quantify the significance of Lynn’s work. Even if such a thing could be captured adequately in quantifiable terms, Lynn’s reach and impact extend far beyond what I am in a position to observe.”

CUMU could not agree more. There are numerous additional accolades shared by Pelco’s recommenders and the award selection committee. Again, congratulations to Lynn Pelco!