Grobman receives President's Award

First recipient of the award from a Penn State campus outside University Park

Laurie Grobman, professor of English and women's studies at Penn State Berks, is the 2012 recipient of the President's Award for Excellence in Academic Integration, which is given to a full-time faculty member of the University who has exhibited extraordinary achievement in the integration of teaching and research or creative accomplishments, and service. Grobman is the first recipient of the award from a Penn State campus outside University Park.

Grobman’s accomplishments are outstanding in each of the three separate areas -- teaching, research, and service -- which are tied together by the common threads of multiculturalism and social justice. Grobman’s teaching brings students directly into these issues themselves–through undergraduate research, service-learning, and community-based research.

Among Grobman’s accomplishments is bringing the concept of the Center for Service Learning and Community-Based Research (formerly known as The Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy at Penn State Berks) to the campus in the fall of 2010 and serving as the coordinator. The center is designed to be a forum for sharing knowledge, expertise, and training among faculty who practice service learning in their courses.

Penn State Berks is the first campus outside of University Park to launch the initiative. Several projects are have been completed by the center and many others are currently underway in which students and faculty are partnering with nonprofit organizations, such as Friends Inc. and the Greater Reading Food Bank, the Pagoda, Nicholas Stoltzfus Homestead, and the Salvation Army's Mañana program.

Recently, the Center for Service Learning and Community-Based Research announced the creation of the Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research, a new, refereed, multi-disciplinary online undergraduate journal. Grobman will serve as editor of this publication.

In fact, Grobman has extensive experience in working with undergraduate students to publish journals. In 2003, she co-founded and edited for seven years an international undergraduate research journal, Young Scholars in Writing: Undergraduate Research in Writing and Rhetoric. The journal’s mission is to provide a venue for undergraduates engaged in research about writing and rhetoric to share their work with a broader audience of students, scholars, and teachers through national publication.

More recently, Grobman has focused on interdisciplinary, community-based undergraduate research “to redress the largely invisible, erased histories of local ethnic minorities.”

She and her students have worked closely with the African-American community, primarily through the NAACP branch in Reading and the Central Pennsylvania African American Museum in Reading, Pa., to publish "Woven with Words: A Collection of African American History in Berks County, Pennsylvania," a history book that describes the rich­ -- and previously untold -- heritage from the county’s 18th-century inception to present day.

"Woven with Words" was co-edited by Grobman. Several Penn State Berks classes were involved in the project, including Ethnic America taught by Grobman. To conduct their research, students visited local historical repositories, including the Berks County Historical Society and the Central Pennsylvania African American Museum, where they met local historians and pieced together history from archived materials such as slave advertisements.

This project set the stage for a second publication, in which Grobman and her students worked with the Hispanic/Latino community, primarily through Centro Hispano Daniel Torres, Inc., to publish "Hispanics/Latinos in Reading and Berks: A Portrait of a Community." The book is the first comprehensive documentation of the county’s Hispanic/Latino community. Once again, Grobman served as editor.
Grobman was then approached by the president of Jewish Federation of Reading to design a similar project for the Jewish community. The Jewish local history projects led to publication of two books, one printed locally and the other published by a commercial press. "A History of the Jewish Community in Reading and Berks County" was written by Penn State Berks students in partnership with the Jewish Cultural Center/Jewish Federation of Reading and with hundreds of members of the local Jewish community.
"Jewish Reading and Berks," a photographic history of Berks County’s Jewish community, was published by Arcadia Publishing for the “Images in America Series.” The book was produced by students in Grobman’s “Jewish Representation in History and Photography” course, which focused on the issues emanating from the telling of history through photographs, such as accuracy, selectivity, and historical truth.
The professor’s current engaged scholarship project focuses on the Central Pennsylvania African American Museum in Reading. Grobman is writing a narrative history of the museum and two scholarly articles, the first grounded in scholarship on African American museums and the second on the rhetorical and communicative processes that led to the museum’s success.

Grobman has published two single-authored books, "Multicultural Hybridity: Transforming American Literary Scholarship and Pedagogy" (2007) and "Teaching at the Crossroads: Cultures and Critical Perspectives in Literature by Women of Color" (2001), and two co-edited collections, "Undergraduate Research in English Studies" (2010), and "On Location: Theory and Practice in Classroom-Based Writing Tutoring" (2005).
The President's Award for Excellence in Academic Integration was established by the University in 1996 to celebrate faculty accomplishments that are consistent with the President’s goal for "Penn State to be the top University in the United States in the integration of teaching, research, and service." The award was presented at a special luncheon at noon on April 19, in the Nittany Lion Inn Ballroom on Penn State's University Park campus.

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Last Updated April 29, 2013