Beth Wall-Bassett, Western Carolina University associate professor of nutrition and dietetics, was excited when she walked across the stage at Elon University recently to receive the Engaged Faculty Award from North Carolina Campus Compact during its annual “Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement” Conference.
The trophy she received, with her name inscribed, sits on a shelf in her office in the Health and Human Sciences Building. But if Wall-Bassett had her way, there’s a host of names that would be added.
“I really felt like it was a reflection on the great work that comes from this program and from the university,” Wall-Bassett said. “It’s really the representation of the service and the learning and the incredible work that comes from our university and our region, and with our students and our faculty, too. You don’t do service learning by yourself. It’s got one name on there, but it’s like one name that represents the community partners, and the students, and the faculty.”
The Engaged Faculty Award recognizes a faculty member in the state for exemplary engaged teaching and scholarship, including leadership that advances students’ community and civic learning, conducting community-based research, fostering reciprocal community partnerships, and building institutional commitments to service learning and community engagement.
Wall-Bassett has been a key figure in WCU’s service learning community. In 2017, she was recognized by NC Campus Compact as an Engaged Faculty Scholar. In 2018, along with Lane Perry, WCU’s director of Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, Wall-Bassett helped form the Faculty Institute on Community Engagement. She also is co-chair of the Provost’s Advisory Board for Academic Community Engagement.
“That’s the invigorating thing, the thing that drives me and keeps me excited about doing this work is to work with other people,” Wall-Bassett said. “Service learning or community engagement isn’t a nutrition thing. It’s interdisciplinary.
“One of the things I like about Western most is we don’t say it, we do it. It’s really cool that nutrition is on board and we’re committed, but in this building and this college, there’s a lot of different disciplines that are interested. The administration, from the Chancellor and the provost, and Lane – I certainly can’t say enough about Lane Perry and the support I’ve had there.”