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University of Wisconsin’s Greg Hutchins Highlights Cross-Campus and Community Engagement

UT Community Engagement Distinguished Speaker Series

Hutchins discusses listening to public concerns and how UW-Extension sought to find what rural Wisconsinites valued for their communities.

Hutchins discusses listening to public concerns and how UW-Extension sought to find what rural Wisconsinites valued for their communities.

By Nichole Stevens, Intern
Office of Community Engagement & Outreach

On Friday, Oct. 31, UT Extension and UTK’s Office of Community Engagement & Outreach welcomed  Greg Hutchins, Vice Chancellor of  University of Wisconsin – Extension, as part of the UT Community Engagement Distinguished Speaker Series.  The title of Hutchin’s interactive seminar was Engaging Extension: Expanding Partnerships in Pursuit of the Land Grant Mission in Wisconsin at the Plant Biotech Building on the UT Agriculture campus.

“The boundary of the school coincides with the border of the state,” said Hutchins. “At UW, there has been a vision around engagement that goes back to the 20th century.”

Hutchins described UW-Extension’s work as falling into four divisions: cooperative extension’ broadcasting and media innovations; continuing education, outreach and e-learning, and entreprenuership and economic development.

“Let’s listen more deeply to the community and find out what they have to say,” Hutchins said. “You might be surprised at their openness for engagement.”

UT staff and community partners engage in table discussions, addressing questions Hutchins poses to the audience.

UT staff and community partners engage in table discussions, addressing questions Hutchins poses to the audience.

As Hutchins discussed UW’s experience with rural Wisconsin communities, he emphasized “re imagining Extension” to overcome three primary challenges of reciprocity, common agenda and bridge building. UW-Extension resolved to advance collective impact within Extension that would create opportunity to find champions in the community, find resources with which to connect that community, and ultimately to develop community partnerships.

Following Hutchins’ seminar, UT Community Engagement & Outreach Director Elizabeth Burman introduced a discussion panel  featuring community representatives who serve on UT’s Carnegie Community Engagement Advisory Committee.  Panelists included Lisa Hurst, president and CEO for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley; William Lyons, deputy to the mayor and chief policy officer for the City of Knoxville under Mayor Madeline Rogero;   Joan Cohn, executive board member for HABIT; and Catherine Carr, service-learning program assistant for Pellissippi State Community College.  The panelists have all serve as community representatives on UT’s Carnegie Community Engagement Advisory Committee.

Community members for the Carnegie Advisory Committee conduct a Q&A with audience members.

Community representatives on the Carnegie Community Engagement Advisory Committee address fellow Committee Members

Committee members spoke of their partnership perspective and experiences with UT,  especially in terms of placing students with internships within their organizations.

“Getting the right person to the right place is important,” said Lyons.

Hurst also said she is keenly aware of the impact student interns have on kids at her organization. “UT has come so far in helping us,” Hurst said.

“They don’t just see students as extra hands,” observed Hutchins. “They value the contributions students can make.”

However, there is always room for improvement.

“I’d like to see more faculty engaged in the community, beyond the university,” Lyons said. “It goes both ways.”

The Office of Community Engagement & Outreach presented Hutchins with a commemorative plaque, recognizing his and UW’s broad work with community outreach and extension.

“You’ve been an engaging audience,” said Hutchins.