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Engaged Faculty Award

The Engaged Faculty Award recognizes one faculty member in North Carolina 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. The award is presented during the PACE conference

Nominations typically open mid-September and close the first week in November.

2024 Engaged Faculty Award Recipient 

Carlos Alexis Cruz, MFA
UNC Charlotte

CarlosAlexis Cruz, associate professor of theatre, at UNC Charlotte received the 2024 Engaged Faculty Award on February 14, 2024 during the annual PACE Conference hosted at Guilford College. High Point University. Pictured is Dr. Byron White, Associate Provost for Urban Research and Community Engagement at UNC Charlotte, and Dr. Kelli Brown, NCCE Executive Board Chair and Western Carolina University chancellor.

Learn more about Professor Cruz. 


From 2006 through 2017, NCCE presented the Robert L. Sigmon Service Learning Award recognizing one faculty member in the network who made significant contributions toward furthering the practice of service-learning. The award was named in honor of Robert L. Sigmon, a service-learning pioneer and North Carolina native. In 1967, along with Bill Ramsay and Wendell Russell, he coined the phrase “service-learning” to better describe the community-based internships they facilitated at the Southern Regional Education Board. In 2009, Mr. Sigmon donated his personal library and research to Elon University to create the Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Collection. In 2016, the archive was digitized and is now available online. https://elonuniversity.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16128coll7 

In 2017, Sigmon humbly expressed his desire that his name be removed from the award because “it is the service-learning movement in its many variations, rather than any one or two individuals who need to be recognized. The S-L language has now had a 50 year run with all kinds of frameworks added and subtracted.” To honor his wishes, we have expanded the award beyond service-learning to recognize other forms of engaged teaching and learning. Sigmon also reminded us that the “the key factor in service-learning relationships is the acceptance of the potential learning for all the parties involved as well as the recognition that each can be of some service or help with the others.” As a result, we launched the Community Partner Award in 2019.

Past Recipients

Click on the name to read story/bio.

2023 – Dr. Lucy Lawrence, Warren Wilson College

2022 – Dr. Lynn W. Blanchard, UNC-Chapel Hill

2021 – Steven M. Virgil, Wake Forest University

2020 – Dr. Beth Wall-Bassett, Western Carolina University

2019 – Dr. Alessandra Von Burg, Wake Forest University

2018 – Dr. Annie Jonas, Warren Wilson College

2017 – Dr. David Malone, Duke University

2016 – Dr. Patricia Bricker, Western Carolina University

2015 – Mr. Travis Hicks, UNC Greensboro

2014 – Dr. Jim Cook, UNC Charlotte

2013 – Dr. Rebecca Dumlao, East Carolina University

2012 – Dr. Spoma Jovanovic, UNC Greensboro

2011 – Dr. Della Pollock, UNC-Chapel Hill

2010 – Dr. Michele Gillespie, Wake Forest University

2009 – Pam Kiser, MSW, Elon University

2008 – Dr. Cheryl Brown, Greensboro College

2007 – Dr. Rachel Willis, UNC-Chapel Hill

2006 – Dr. Betsy Alden, Duke University