“Mel’s work on our campus over the last six years has transformed our curriculum and our culture. As a result of Mel’s efforts, Keene State College actively and passionately embraces our mission to prepare all members of our community to become informed and engaged citizens for our democracy.” – Helen Giles-Gee, President Keene State College
By Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project
Each year we recognize a Chief Academic Officer (CAO) for his or her leadership in institutionalizing civic engagement on their campus. The William Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement is designed to recognize the critical role of the chief academic officer in advancing the civic mission of the campus through curricular reform, public advocacy, accountability for institutional citizenship, faculty development and recruitment, and partnerships with community organizations.
The award, funded through the generosity of AASCU member campus Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, has been created to acknowledge the critical leadership role that chief academic officers play in serving as the vital link between the academic community (principally the faculty, staff and students) and the more externally oriented leadership of presidents, chancellors and trustees in helping make an institution intentional about its role in citizenship preparation. Through their leadership, chief academic officers align the work of faculty, the learning of students, and the achievements of staff with the public mission of AASCU institutions to prepare undergraduates as informed, engaged citizens. Chief academic officers make a critical difference in the articulation of purpose, in the alignment of actions, and in the quality, scope and effectiveness of institutional performance.
The Plater Award is the first national award established specifically to honor and recognize CAOs for their leadership in higher education.
This year we received many outstanding nominations for the Plater Award. I am pleased to announce that after much deliberation, the award committee selected Mel Netzhammer, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Keene State College, as the recipient of the 2012 William Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement. You can read the selection committee’s statement endorsing Mel as this year’s Plater Award recipient below.
As you will discover when you read more about Mel, he worked tirelessly for more than five years to commit Keene State College to fostering civic outcomes for students. Mel is a dear friend and colleague and I am delighted to see his diligence in preparing informed, engaged citizens recognized and honored by the Plater Award. Mel graciously donated his $1,000 prize money to the ADP fund at Keene State. He begins a new role as Chancellor of Washington State University, Vancouver — one of our newest ADP schools — in July.
Congratulations, Mel! You have certainly earned your place in this esteemed circle of champions of civic learning and engagement.
For more information about the Plater Award, including its criteria and past recipients, please visit this website.
Watch a YouTube video of Mel receiving the Plater Award: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsQOdtVmnaA&feature=youtube_gdata_player
The award committee’s statement endorsing Mel Netzhammer as the 2012 Plater Award recipient
The Review Committee unanimously and enthusiastically recommends that Dr. Mel Netzhammer of Keene State College receive the 2012 William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement.
Dr. Netzhammer has a significant record of sustained leadership on campus, within the American Democracy Project, and within the broader regional community. In particular, the Review Committee notes the intentionality of Dr. Netzhammer’s infusion of civic engagement into the fabric of campus culture and the degree to which he has institutionalized civic engagement through personal leadership, commitment of resources, and the transformation of both curricular and co-curricular elements of the University’s educational program. In the area of curriculum, it is most noteworthy that the number of courses devoting explicit attention to the study and practice of political, civic, and humanitarian engagement has expanded significantly.
The range and depth of Dr. Netzhammer’s leadership is impressive. He has been both a leader and a supporter of the Red Balloon Project, eCitizenship, and of the Liberal Education and America’s Promise project. He is a significant contributor to the work of the National Implementation Committee of ADP. For Mel, civic engagement is not a project—it is an extension of his professional identity. His nomination file notes that his leadership style as a Provost encourages the engagement of all in the many tasks of educating students. He is an effective spokesperson for the University in the often turbulent arena of legislative support for higher education.
It is our judgment that this award reflects the best traditions of civic engagement established by William Plater. Dr. Mel Netzhammer leads by example. He has engaged his campus broadly in a shared commitment to civic engagement. He is a respected voice and exemplar of leadership in civic engagement on campus and in the national arena.