The Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic (CCMA), a non-profit higher education membership association, has selected College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Faculty Senate President and Professor of Communications Dr. Sarah Merranko, as the community college winner of the Alan G. Penczek Service-Learning Faculty Award. The award is presented to a college faculty member for his/her excellence in integrating service-learning into the curriculum as well as for their impact on students and the greater community college community. Additionally, the CCMA award also acknowledges the recipient’s professional leadership and achievements.
Merranko was recognized for numerous achievements including her instrumental leadership in creating the inaugural Center of Civic Engagement and Service Learning at the College of Southern Maryland in 2005. She served as director of the center while teaching 12 credits per semester until 2012, when she became permanent faculty dedicating her full time to the classroom.
During her tenure as director, Merranko participated in the development of the Core Learning Area outcomes for Experiential Learning, assessed impact of service-learning on student learning and community benefit through several annual evaluations as part of a three-year, federally funded grant, and oversaw the Engaged Faculty Institute to support faculty looking to integrate service-learning into courses. She served as the project director on CSM’s Learn & Serve Higher Education Consortia Grant, facilitated and implemented service-learning and volunteer training for faculty, staff, students and volunteer organizations, and managed the service-learning and volunteer database for more than 200 agencies and 600 volunteers annually.
Her work also included designing and conducting faculty development workshops on service-learning topics, organizing reflection activities for student leaders who participate in co-curricular service-learning, and directing faculty through consultation, mentoring and facilitation to integrate community-based learning into courses including designing a website with an online handbook and resources for faculty, students, and community partners.
“Sarah’s ongoing impact on the quality of education being offered in Maryland’s community college is remarkable,” said CSM Provost and Division of Learning Vice President Dr. Rodney Redmond. “As a professor, the CSM Faculty Senate President, and within the many leadership roles she has had over the years, she sets an impressive tone and example of how we all should interact, guide, and impress upon our students the core value of service leadership and compassionate civic responsibility.”
“I am very touched to not only be recognized myself as the winner of the Alan G. Penczek Service-Learning Faculty Award in the community college category, but also to have my colleague and friend, Jim Walters recognized for his lifetime achievement to service and civic engagement,” Merranko shared. A mentor to, and colleague of, Merranko, Walters passed in October. He was awarded posthumously with the Campus Compact – Lifetime Achievement Award during the Dec. 14 virtual ceremony where he and Merranko were among 14 award winners. “He was so wonderfully supportive of me as a 20 something-year-old professional doing this work. I just want to mention how grateful I am for him and how much he coached me in the areas of experiential learning. He was always my sounding board. His depth of knowledge and ability to connect to the different populations we were trying to connect with was phenomenal. I am thankful for him and many others who have helped to shape service-learning in our communities.”
“Everyone being recognized today is dedicated to building equitable and just communities,” shared Campus Compact Mid-Atlantic Founder and Executive Director Madeline Yates during the award ceremony. “The leadership and work recognized today are exactly what is needed in our world.”