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Engaged Higher Education Network

The Importance of Town and Gown in Oklahoma Communities: Lessons Learned in Collaboration

November 13, 2020




Session Description:

This moderated panel will discuss: 

· Community Engaged Research and Creative Activity 

· How to work with community partners to identify community needs and set up collaborations 

· How to access community collaborations: impact on community and university 

· Lessons learned from community partners and recommendations to universities for the best way to develop and remain connected in mutually beneficial partnerships

Moderator: Marcia Shottenkirk




Martha Parrott

Professor and Associate Dean, Northeastern State University

Dr. Martha Parrott is the Assistant Dean for the College of Science and Health Professions and Professor of Mathematics at Northeastern State University in Broken Arrow. She is a former classroom teacher who today serves pre-service and in-service teachers of mathematics through undergraduate and graduate programs. Dr. Parrott is a DaVinci Fellow, an especially prestigious teaching award in higher education which recognizes her creative and innovative approach to teaching and learning. She has been honored as a Woman in STEM for her STEM education contributions in the greater Tulsa area. Dr. Parrott also serves as the Chair of the M. Ed. Mathematics Education program, university coordinator of the Oklahoma Elementary Math Specialist program, and directs the NSU Mathematics Clinic, an outreach initiative to serve the community. She presents nationally, publishes, and conducts research in the field of mathematics education.

Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan

Professor of Rural Health, Executive Director, Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy, Oklahoma State University

Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan is an Indigenous (Choctaw) participatory researcher, trained in intervention science, with the goal of combining research with action for social change. Dr. Jernigan received her doctorate in public health from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular disease prevention at Stanford University, where she also completed a degree in documentary filmmaking. She has been the lead investigator on 10 National Institutes of Health-funded trials to improve Indigenous food systems and health including the THRIVE study, the first randomized trial of healthy makeovers in tribally-owned convenience stores, and the FRESH study, a farm-to-school intervention to reduce obesity among Native American children. Dr. Jernigan directs the Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences where she is also a Professor in the Department of Rural Health. In all of her work she has fostered long-term mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities that promote tribal sovereignty and build the capacity of Indigenous communities to improve health.

Robert Spinks

Professor of Sociology and Justice Studies, Oklahoma City University

Dr. Robert L. Spinks, a native Oklahoman, was the president and chief executive officer for United Way of Central Oklahoma. Prior to assuming this responsibility in 2001, he served as executive director of the Community Council of Central Oklahoma, the regional research and planning organization for the non-profit community. 
Bob attended Oklahoma State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1973, and masters (1978) and doctoral (1980) degrees in educational administration. Bob serves on the boards of many nonprofit and educational organizations in Central Oklahoma, including: Leadership Oklahoma City, the Youth Leadership Exchange (YLX), Epworth Villa, the OU College of Public Health, the Better Business Bureau, and the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor for Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma State University, and Southeastern Oklahoma State University.


Haley Biram

Community Engagement Manager of Recruitment at Reading Partners Tulsa

Haley is the Community Engagement Manager of Recruitment at Reading Partners and works with all organizational partners to support volunteer initiatives. Haley is a Tulsa native and graduated from the University of Tulsa in Nonprofit Business and Arts Management. Previous to Reading Partners, Haley was the Volunteer Program Manager at Gathering Place and the Education & Public Programs Manager at ahha Hardesty Arts Center.

presenter Haley Biram