MACON – Mercer University faculty member Dr. Mary Alice Morgan was honored with the 2020 Gulf-South Award for Outstanding Practitioner Contributions to Service-Learning in Higher Education at the organization’s annual conference, held virtually March 15-18.
The mission of the Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Civic Engagement through Higher Education is to promote networking among practitioners, research, ethical practices, reciprocal campus-community partnerships, sustainable programs, and a culture of engagement and public awareness through service-learning and other forms of civic engagement.
The award was originally intended to be presented at last year’s conference before it was canceled following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Morgan served as speaker chair of the Gulf South Summit from 2010-2014, a period when the summit featured national speakers such as founder of Tom’s Shoes Blake Mycoskie, philanthropic executive and politician Michelle Nunn, and Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, National Humanities Medalist and New York Times-bestselling author Krista Tippett, as well as luminaries in the field of service-learning such as Nadinne Cruz, Barbara Jacoby, Julie Hatcher and Tim Eatman.
Dr. Morgan was invited by the Gulf South Summit Executive Committee to be a featured national speaker for the conference in 2015, where she and her former student Hannah Vann captivated the entire conference audience with their riveting story of learning about and then fighting human sex trafficking in Macon, Georgia, using best practices of service-learning and civic engagement.
“It is an honor and privilege to be Mary Alice’s colleague, collaborator and friend,” said Dr. Marybeth Lima, professor and chair of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Louisiana State University. “Mary Alice has an unparalleled ability to see through to the heart of complex issues and to facilitate groups of disparate people to work collaboratively to address such issues. She is the kind of engaged scholar whose work enables you to elevate your own and the kind of person who inspires you to be the best iteration of yourself. I am thrilled that the Gulf South Summit has recognized Mary Alice’s long term accomplishments in civic engagement.”
“Dr. Morgan is an outstanding colleague who has provided many years of leadership, vision and energy across the state and nationally in support of ethical and effective community engagement practices,” added Dr. Paul Matthews, associate director of the University of Georgia’s Office of Service-Learning and former member of the Gulf-South Summit Steering Committee.
Dr. Morgan’s work in the field of service-learning earned her recognition as a finalist for the national Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award that recognizes outstanding leadership in fostering community partnerships, conducting community-based research and enhancing higher education’s contributions to the public good.
Dr. Morgan has served on the faculty at Mercer since 1997 and is trained in 19th-century American literature and women’s studies. She is professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and served as senior vice provost for service-learning for the past 13 years before returning to full-time teaching during the current academic year. As a former chair of the University’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Dr. Morgan developed service-learning courses on violence against women and sex trafficking.
She is an advocate for social justice, both on campus and in the community, and has initiated projects to raise awareness about issues such as violence against women, sex trafficking, LGBT rights, poverty and racial inequality. She has also co-led a Mercer On Mission trip to work in townships in Cape Town, South Africa, multiple times.
Dr. Morgan earned her B.A. from Duke University and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialogue and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit liberalarts.mercer.edu.