MACON – Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, senior vice provost for service learning and professor of English and women's and gender studies at Mercer University, was presented with the second annual Lt. Randy Parker Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award at Tuesday's annual meeting of the United Way of Central Georgia.
The award, created to recognize a volunteer who is outstanding in raising awareness for United Way's efforts in the local community, is named for the Macon-Bibb County firefighter who heroically gave his life in the line of duty in February 2015. Parker was actively involved in United Way of Central Georgia among many other community organizations.
“Mary Alice Morgan's leadership of Mercer University service-learning programs that have positively impacted the Central Georgia area, coupled with her own personal investment in service to our community, make her a worthy recipient of this award,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “She serves as an excellent role model for our students in how to give back to your community.”
Dr. Morgan, who joined the Mercer faculty in 1997, has spearheaded the University's efforts to promote service learning and civic engagement since July 1, 2008.
“I am deeply humbled that United Way has honored me in this way and mindful of the tremendous work they do through their partner agencies throughout the central Georgia region,” said Dr. Morgan. “They are literally changing our region by building collaborations that impact our underserved community members – from mothers of newborn babies becoming educated about early childhood development to programs that support elementary schoolchildren learning to read on grade level, which, in turn, help our youth graduate from high school. I'm grateful to be a part of this collaboration.”
Under her leadership, Mercer is one of only 361 universities to earn the Carnegie Foundation's Community Engagement Classification, has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, and has been recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative University. Additionally, in 2013, she was named a finalist for the national Campus Compact Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award that recognizes outstanding leadership in advancing students' civic learning, fostering community partnerships, conducting community-based research, building institutional commitments to service and enhancing higher education's contributions to the public good.
An advocate for social justice both on campus and in the community, she has initiated projects to raise awareness about issues such as violence against women, sex trafficking, poverty and racial inequality.
She was co-principal investigator on a $500,000 planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood program to create pipelines of support and empowerment in Macon's Unionville and Tindall Heights neighborhoods. Macon was one of only 15 communities in the nation and the only one in the Southeast to receive the grant, which was awarded in December 2011.
Dr. Morgan was instrumental in the development of United Way of Central Georgia's Read2Succeed Initiative, which focuses on making sure children are reading at or above grade level when they finish third grade. Read2Succeed was launched at nearby Ingram-Pye Elementary School and received a $225,000 challenge grant last June from The Peyton Anderson Foundation to expand to nine other elementary schools. The initiative grew out of a successful reading program involving Mercer student tutors at Ingram-Pye piloted by Dr. Morgan.
Dr. Morgan earned her B.A. from Duke University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.