KU News Release

June 1, 2011
Contact: Amanda Schwegler, Center for Service Learning, 785-864-0960

Center for Service Learning honors faculty member, student, community partner

More Information

LAWRENCE — The Center for Service Learning at the University of Kansas has bestowed its inaugural Excellence in Service Learning Awards to one faculty member, one student and one community partner in recognition of exceptional dedication to service learning projects, community impact and student development.

Recipients of this year’s awards were Raquel Alexander, assistant professor of business; Austin Brown, a graduating senior from Olathe and Overland Park; and Audio-Reader.

Alexander received the faculty award for her implementation of service learning in the classroom and the impact of that work on students and the community. Alexander teaches tax research in the School of Business and has been incorporating service learning into her classroom since 2005. In her classes, Alexander has repeatedly responded to topical community needs that could benefit from students’ tax skills. After Hurricane Katrina, Alexander’s students created a website explaining the new tax relief code to hurricane victims. The site was praised by the American Bar Association and used by New Orleans tax professionals. More recently, Alexander’s classes have created a tax publication for victims of the Greensburg tornado that was recognized by the IRS and offered tax form training for United Way affiliates across Kansas.

Brown was given the Student Excellence in Service Learning Award for demonstrating civic commitment, community awareness and positive community impact as well as academic and personal achievement. Brown graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree in finance and a concentration in entrepreneurship. In addition to his service learning coursework at KU, Brown has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, Lawrence High School and other community organizations. He is also brand manager for a social media startup business that has provided pro bono work for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Douglas County. He is the son of Jim Brown of Olathe and Penny Brown of Overland Park. He is a graduate of Shawnee Mission West High School.

Audio-Reader, a reading and information service for blind, visually impaired and print disabled citizens of Kansas and western Missouri, received the award for Community Partner Excellence in Service Learning. The award honors an agency that has demonstrated commitment to the academic, civic and personal development of students by facilitating effective service learning environments. Audio-Reader has collaborated with Cheryl Lester, associate professor of American studies, and her Jewish-American studies classes since 2006. Throughout this partnership, Audio-Reader has integrated students into its organization and worked closely with Lester to refine and improve the collaboration.

The Center for Service Learning presented the awards at the Engaged Learning Certification Ceremony in conjunction with recognition of students who received certification in service learning. The Excellence in Service Learning Awards will be presented annually.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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