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Dr. Dolores Delgado Bernal, Education, Culture and Society, will be recognized as University Neighborhood Partners Community Scholar in Residence (CSIR) for the 2007-1008 academic year at University Neighborhood Partner’s 3rd Annual CommUnity Day this Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007 from 10am to 1pm in the Crimson Room of the Student Union. Delgado Bernal will spend the year further developing the community-based research trajectory of the Adelante partnership.

Delgado Bernal is one of the principal investigators (along with Dr. Enrique Alemán, Jr.,) of the Adelante partnership, a nationally recognized initiative to increase access to higher education for elementary-school aged children. Originally funded through a UNP seed grant, this college awareness and preparatory partnership has provided 125 hours of campus experiences for nearly 150 kindergartners, first graders and second graders and connected them to nearly 70 college student mentors in its three years.

Delgado Bernal said that the past two years have helped to lay the foundation for the reciprocal relationships that sustain the Adelante partnership. Her goal for this year is to explore Adelante’s infrastructure for community based research in order to “collaboratively explore and write about those practices that produce outcomes for students and/or their families and disseminate new knowledge through academic and community venues,” she said.

Delgado Bernal said three research strands will guide this work. “First, this research seeks to understand how the cultural wealth and assets brought into the school setting by Latina/o students and families, as well as first-generation college student mentors, can contribute to academic success. We will attempt to understand the process and challenges of institutionalizing a school/community/university partnership. Lastly, the research will examine how the wider school climate and culture influences student success and attempts to gauge how the partnership might influence a transformation of the school culture,” she explained.

Outlets for presenting her work will include workshops for other U of U faculty involved in UNP partnerships. The goal of these venues, said Munro, is to support mentoring, information-sharing, and an intellectual community for faculty involved in community-based scholarship through UNP.

Delgado Bernal’s research area and interests make her an excellent match with UNP’s goals, said UNP Associate Director Dr. Sarah Munro. “Her work shows enormous commitment to linking research and teaching with questions that are significant to west side communities.  This approach creates a space for community-driven social change that engages residents as leaders in their communities and at the same time creates new knowledge at the University,” she added. 

UNP’s Community Scholar in Residence (CSIR) program serves as a catalyst for University of Utah faculty to integrate research, teaching, and engagement through campus-community partnerships. In addition, it provides visibility for the role of faculty members in community partnerships both on and off campus, especially in west Salt Lake neighborhoods which traditionally have been underrepresented at the University. In addition, it enables the University of Utah to better respond to west side, community-identified issues, while increasing the visibility of faculty members engaged in community  partnerships, and providing greater voice to historically underrepresented neighborhoods.

Community Scholars in Residence spend a year engaging in scholarship that serves one of UNP’s three target areas: youth education and success, community leadership and resident empowerment, and capacity-building in health, housing, safety, environment, and employment. Faculty are awarded an honorarium to assist with supporting their time and scholarship either through a full or partial course buy-out from their regular teaching load, or to compensate for specific costs incurred during the project.

Tangible outcomes of CSIR projects include teaching community seminars, developing publishable reports, or designing program evaluations. All CSIR provide UNP with a written report of the work undertaken during the year that will indicate the links between research, teaching, and community engagement.

Previous CSIR’s have included, Dr. Doris Watson (2003-04), exercise and sports science, who facilitated the University of Utah as a year-round National Youth Sports Program site serving children from west Salt Lake neighborhoods; Dr. Luke Garrott (2004-05), political science, who established a new political science course entitled Neighborhood Democracy; and Dr. Maged Senbel (2005-06), architecture and urban planning, who developed a course on community redevelopment held in the west Salt Lake neighborhood it studies. Dr. Barbara Brown (2007), family and consumer studies, spent the early part of this year investigating the types of protocols, models, and principles that create effective and reciprocally beneficial community-based research. The results of her focus group research led to the publication of a community based research report and a brochure offering guidelines for faculty interested in pursuing this type of scholarship.

Since its inception five years ago, UNP has helped to forge campus-community relationships between seven west Salt Lake neighborhoods, local community organizations and the University of Utah by bringing people together in shared action and mutual respect. One long-term goal of these partnerships is to develop an increasingly diverse pool of qualified students for the University’s student body, an asset that can enrich the educational experience for all students and will help the University draw a more diverse faculty.

An average UNP coordinates partnerships with over 200 University of Utah students, faculty, and staff, who contributed over 6, 500 hours of community-based research and scholarship during a semester.

Delgado Bernal is a former community educator and elementary school teacher, with a doctorate from University of California, Los Angeles in the Graduate School of Education. Her research interests examine how the educational experiences of Chicana/o college students are situated in a complex web of oppressions and possibilities. Her research sketches a portrait of pedagogical practices of everyday life by highlighting the cultural knowledge base that helps Chicana/o students overcome the challenges and obstacles they confront on their educational journey.