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September 4, 2011

For Michael Marshall, an associate professor of photography in the Lamar Dodd School of Art, all it took was one class to see the effect that public service and outreach has on students.

"The enthusiasm was evident. From the volume of work the students were making, it was clear they were engaged," he said. "The comments they left at the end of the semester were surprising. They said, ‘It was one of the best experiences I've had. It opened me up. It challenged me.' There were a lot of positive comments that were really genuine in a way I don't see in a lot of our other studio classes."

After working with the Archway Partnership, a unit of PSO that links local communities with the university's vast resources, Marshall wanted to become more involved in public service and outreach. So he applied for a PSO Faculty
Fellowship.

The fellowship provides support for tenure-track faculty to take one semester off from teaching and partner with the PSO unit of their choice. Fellows spend their semester enhancing their courses, and conducting research learning about the work of the PSO unit. Fellows for this semester also include Michelle Carney, an associate professor in the School of Social Work.

Through his fellowship this semester, Marshall plans to find other ways to elicit that same level of academic fervor.

"I have two goals in mind," he said. "One is to look at projects Fanning is already working on and to better publicize the work that they're doing. A second project is to think about how photography plays a role, more than just a documentary role, but actually being the activist tool of what they're trying to do. My goal is to let myself be the guinea pig, to do work myself that engages the people they're working with and to talk to them about how we can integrate a class within the photography program in the School of Art in a partnership with Fanning.

"The Fanning Institute has so many projects going on all the time, my hope is that at the beginning of the next semester I could see which ones are going on and bring the students in on that, and have a class based on getting out into the community and responding externally," he added. "In art school, we're asking students to look inward, and I picture the students in this class as looking outward, becoming aware of their surroundings."

The Fanning Institute, which provides community leadership development training to Georgia residents, is also where the first PSO Faculty Fellow, Anna Karls, chose to work. An associate professor of microbiology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, Karls said her time with the Fanning Institute re-framed her understanding of what PSO does. She became involved with programs like Whatever It Takes Athens as with as other PSO units, like the Office of Service-Learning.

"To come up with ways that students can help, you've got to think outside the box. I couldn't think of it all by myself. I needed to be immersed in what's going on in public service and outreach and how they're doing it," Karls said. "And I enjoyed it so much. I'm going to maintain my connection with Fanning forever. They've told me I don't get to go away."

These sorts of sustained connections are exactly what PSO hoped to create through the Fellows program, said Jennifer Frum, interim vice president for public service and outreach.

"A specific goal in the 2010-2015 Public Service and Outreach Strategic Plan relates to enhancing learning and research at the university by creating new public service and outreach avenues for faculty and students," she said. "We hope that through the PSO Faculty Fellows program, public service units will partner with academic faculty to leverage university expertise and resources to tackle critical issues in the state."

Faculty members interested in applying to become a fellow for the 2012 spring semester should contact Trish Kalivoda, tlk@uga.edu or 706-542-3946. The deadline to submit a proposal is Sept. 30.