Contact: Emily Springer, Communication Manager, Communication and Information Technology, University Outreach and Engagement,

EAST LANSING, MI — On March 2, the annual MSU Outreach and Engagement Awards Ceremony took place, honoring the outstanding work of students, faculty, and staff in collaboration with community-based partners.

Established in 2017, the awards ceremony recognizes and celebrates engaged university-community collaborations that have the potential to address large-scale problems and challenging societal issues.

“The impactful work we have seen from all award recipients this year is truly inspiring,” said Kwesi Brookins, associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement. “The collaborative efforts between university representatives and their partners in communities around the country and the world has shown just how much can be accomplished when we work together to make a difference.”

2023 marked the inaugural year for two awards:

  • The Graduate Student Award for Science Communication and Outreach, which recognizes the exemplary translation and communication of ideas, issues, findings, and advances in the sciences; and
  • The Distinguished Partnership Award for International Community-Engaged Scholarship, which recognizes a university-community partnership for significant, contextually-responsive, scholarly, and impactful collaboration — through research, creative activity, teaching, and/or service —­ undertaken outside the United States.

The 2023 MSU Outreach and Engagement award recipients are:

Michigan State University Community Engagement Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Susan J. Masten, College of Engineering

Susan Masten is an exemplary faculty member whose research, teaching, and service have made important and sustained impacts on communities near and far. Masten long served as the associate chair for undergraduate studies in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and led several initiatives that have benefited students, faculty colleagues, the university, and communities. Masten also serves as a commissioner for the Meridian Township Environmental Commission, where she helps to advise township policy on issues related to environmental protection, pollution prevention, and preservation of natural areas.

Institutional Champion Award for Community Engagement Scholarship

  • Christopher P. Long, College of Arts and Letters and Honors College

Christopher P. Long is a Michigan State University Foundation Professor and dean of the College of Arts and Letters and the Honors College. He is committed to the transformative power of a liberal arts education and is a leading advocate for public scholarship, community-engaged participatory research, and a values-enacted approach to academic life. Under his leadership, several advances have been made to help raise the College of Arts and Letters’ international reputation, including the creation of the Center for Interdisciplinarity, the Citizen Scholars program, the Critical Diversity in a Digital Age initiative, and the Excel Network.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Research

Engaging Community in the Development of Low-Cost Technologies for Environmental Monitoring to Promote Environmental Health Literacy in a Low-Trust Setting: The Community-Driven Flint Project

  • Jennifer Carrera, College of Social Science, with
  • Community Based Organization Partners, and
  • Community Driven Flint Action Council

During the Flint water crisis, residents struggled to find committed partners who would listen to their concerns and help them mobilize the resources they needed to answer their own questions. In spring 2015, Flint residents and researchers invited Carrera to participate in an investigation of residents’ water quality concerns. Since then, Carrera has been partnering actively with Flint residents and Flint-based researchers to support the community’s research inquiries and address their scientific concerns.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Creative Activity

MSU and the Lansing School District: Building an Intergenerational Constellation of Partnerships with Latinx and Indigenous Lansing School District Youth and Families

  • J. Estrella Torrez, Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, with
  • Lansing School District

Nationally, graduation rates amongst Indigenous and Latinx youth have increased over the past 20 years, but these rates are not reflected in the Lansing School District (LSD). In response to these findings, Torrez and the LSD have worked together to activate the vast community resources in Greater Lansing, including MSU, to provide Indigenous and Latinx students across the area the opportunity to engage in building community around storytelling, place-making, cross-peer mentoring, and youth participatory action research.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Teaching

Community-Engaged Learning: Bridging Medical Education and Community-Based Strategies to Leverage Health Sciences, Social Initiatives, and Evidence-Based Knowledge

  • Carolina Restini, College of Osteopathic Medicine, with
  • Chippewa High School Coalition for Youth and Families,
  • Chippewa Valley High School, and
  • Dakota High School

Carolina Restini and her community partners work with high schools surrounding the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) campuses at the Macomb University Center (MUC) and Detroit Medical Center (DMC) to enrich the educational experiences of high school students while allowing medical students to serve as educators. Fostering this relationship enhances the objective of constructing a sustainable program that empowers high schoolers to utilize their newfound knowledge to make informed decisions.

Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service

Caregiving, Aging, Research, and Education with AgeAlive and IMPART Alliance

  • Clare C. Luz, College of Osteopathic Medicine, with
  • City of East Lansing Prime Time Seniors Program

Clare Luz’s work focuses on quality of life for aging adults and concerns related to healthcare, the economy, and labor markets. She has founded two organizations, IMPART Alliance and MSU AgeAlive, which led to MSU being internationally recognized as an Age-Friendly University, and positioned MSU to respond to an aging state and national population.

Distinguished Partnership Award for International Community-Engaged Scholarship

Community Engagement with Pastoralists on the Tibetan Plateau

  • Maria Lapinski, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, with
  • John Kerr, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
  • Rain Liu, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Arizona,
  • Jinhua Zhao, College of Business, Cornell University; and
  • Shan Shui Conservation Center

Graduate Student Awards for Community Engagement Scholarship

Bridging the Gap through Awareness, Collaboration, and Art

  • Chelsie Boodoo, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and College of Engineering

Aligning Students Passions with Regional Education Services (ASPiRES)

  • Alexandra Lee, College of Education

The following nominees were also recognized with special commendations:

  • Sophie Huss, College of Natural Science
  • Alyssa LaBerge, College of Social Science

Graduate Student Award for Science Communication and Outreach

  • Corinn Rutkoski, College of Natural Science

Spartan Volunteer Service Awards

The awards ceremony also celebrated students who received Student Volunteer Service Awards from the Center for Community Engaged Learning. These awards recognized individuals who volunteered 100 or more hours over the course of one year. Interim President Teresa Woodruff was present at the ceremony in January which honored more than 90 students, and five were recognized for having completed more than 550 hours of volunteer work:

  • Anthony Sabah Barash, College of Social Science
  • Sarah Downing, College of Social Science
  • Krystal Jang, Lyman Briggs College and Honors College
  • Hady Omar, College of Natural Science
  • Arianna Pittenger, College of Social Science

To learn more about award recipients and their impactful work, visit UOE’s website.