Campus News

Lynn W. Blanchard honored for excellence in community engagement

The Carolina professor and administrator received the 2022 Engaged Faculty Award given by North Carolina Campus Compact, a network of 38 colleges and universities.

Portrait of Lynn Blanchard
Lynn Blanchard (Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Lynn Blanchard is the recipient of the 2022 Engaged Faculty Award given by North Carolina Campus Compact, a network of 38 colleges and universities committed to civic and community engagement.

The award recognizes an outstanding faculty member in the NC Campus Compact network who demonstrates excellence in community-based teaching, research and scholarship; leadership of campus-wide efforts; and development of strong partnerships with the community. In her several decades at UNC-Chapel Hill, few people have impacted the institutional culture of service and engagement as profoundly as Blanchard, the NC Campus Compact wrote in a message announcing the award.

Blanchard, an influential educator, has served as a faculty member in the Gillings School of Global Public Health since 2002. However, she began teaching at Carolina in 1985 during her time as a graduate student and received her first appointment as adjunct faculty in 1991.

After graduate school, Blanchard served as associate director of UNC’s Family Support Network of North Carolina and held faculty positions at the UNC schools of medicine and public health, where she was project director of the UNC Health of the Public Program. In this position, she collaborated with community partners to develop an innovative interdisciplinary service-learning course titled Community Health Activism: Dealing with HIV/AIDS.

In her various roles, Blanchard has served as a faculty adviser to student organizations and graduate student capstone teams in the health behavior department and taught the undergraduate courses Philanthropy as a Tool for Social Change and Promoting Change in the Nonprofit Sector. Through these courses Blanchard has pioneered a way for undergraduate students to learn about the history, philosophy and practice of philanthropy and function as a foundation board, overseeing a grant process to allocate $10,000 to community nonprofit organizations. Fundamental to the course is understanding community perspective to ensure the grants effectively respond to their priorities.

Blanchard has led and supported the institutionalization of service-learning at UNC-Chapel Hill in multiple ways. In 2009 she helped integrate APPLES Service-Learning, a previously free-standing student-led program that transforms educational experiences by connecting academic learning and public service, into the Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS). She helped launch the Buckley Public Service Scholars and Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars programs and guided their development into the robust programs they are today. The Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholars program brings together selected faculty from across campus to engage in a two-year experiential, competency-based curriculum designed to advance their engaged scholarship. Blanchard participates in all aspects of this program and directly mentors many of the participating faculty.

In 2014, Blanchard oversaw the creation of the Carolina Engagement Council, which undertook several important projects, including the Provost’s Task Force on Engaged Scholarship in Promotion and Tenure, which she chaired. Their efforts resulted in substantive recommendations in relation to engaged scholarship being considered in the promotion and tenure process.

Blanchard is widely viewed in the nonprofit community as a committed and dynamic partner who is dedicated to working with and seeking input from the community. One nominator said that Blanchard has a “fierce dedication to ensuring that the programs and work of the center are ethical and sustainable in a way that truly serves the community.”

She facilitates the CCPS advisory board, comprised of community partners, students, faculty and staff, ensuring that all voices are heard and respected and that it is a meaningful board experience that makes an actual difference for the center. She also spearheaded a community partner survey in 2009 designed to assess the benefits and challenges community agencies experience when working with the CCPS and the University. Blanchard ensured the results informed and improved CCPS programs and campus-community partnerships in general. She helped launch a second follow-up survey in 2019 ensuring the progress resulting from the initial survey would continue.

As a scholar, Blanchard is recognized as a national leader who has contributed greatly to the wider fields of higher education community engagement and public health with 26 publications and more than 72 workshops and presentations given on related topics.

She has served as co-director of Faculty for the Engaged Campus, an initiative of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health; a member of the executive committee for the Council on Engagement and Outreach of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and a member of the board and executive committee for the Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship.

Over the last decade and a half, she has focused on faculty development related to community engaged scholarship. Her efforts have included developing a set of competencies which have been used to develop programs and assess and evaluate faculty and graduate student progress. She has also helped conceptualize community engaged scholarship through disciplinary frames. Her recent (2021) white paper with Andy Furco of the University of Minnesota, Faculty Engaged Scholarship: Setting Standards and Building Conceptual Clarity, published by the Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship, establishes a framework to examine the different approaches and pathways that disciplines take to engaged scholarship, a project that has implications for broader conversations of engaged scholarship at institutions across the United States and abroad.

Blanchard earned both her PhD and M.P.H from UNC-Chapel Hill.

North Carolina Campus Compact will recognize Blanchard during its annual Presidents Forum and PACE Conference hosted virtually on February 9. Twenty-four presidents and chancellors and 200 faculty and staff, representing 45 colleges and universities are registered to attend. The event includes keynote remarks by Eric Liu, president and CEO of Citizen University, a prolific writer and former White House speechwriter and deputy domestic policy adviser.