American Democracy Project honors Janke with National Award for Emerging Leaders

Article by Kristin Medlin, 336-334-4661, Office of Research and Economic Development

Dr. Emily M. Janke, Special Assistant for Community Engagement, Office of Research and Economic Development

On June 8th, the American Democracy Project (ADP) bestowed national recognition on one of UNCG’s own. Dr. Emily M. Janke, Special Assistant for Community Engagement in the Office of Research and Economic Development, received the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement at the ADP’s 10th annual meeting. The 2012 award went to two recipients – Dr. Janke and Western Kentucky University’s Dr. Paul Markham.

The ADP’s John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement recognizes, supports, and encourages the next generation of leaders in the civic engagement movement. Chancellor Brady nominated Janke for the ADP award, remarking that, “because of her commitment to excellence and her proven track record as a leader and strategic thinker, I am increasingly looking to Emily as a transformational change agent at UNCG.”

“Emily has an enthusiastic attitude toward civic engagement that is contagious,” said Luis Juarez, an undergraduate International Business student at UNCG. “She has a genuine interest in the civic engagement of undergraduate students. From a brief conversation about my involvement on campus, she wants to spread the account/story of my experience.”

“In her quiet ways, with a gentle smile, and wise counsel, she has helped innumerable students, faculty, and staff to help realize a vision for a university fully integrated within the communities of which it is a part,” said Patrick Lee Lucas, associate professor in the Interior Architecture Department at UNCG.

“Truly dedicated to authentic civic engagement, Emily looks for new solutions and approaches when needed and offers a solid perspective and process to map often uncharted waters,” said Janke’s long-time community colleague Susan Feit, Executive Director of the National Conference for Community and Justice.

In Janke’s nomination materials, glowing remarks like these from 19 students, community members, faculty, staff, administrators, and practitioner-scholars told the story of Janke’s contributions to civic engagement. The recommendations outlined her outstanding work in the fields of student learning and mentoring; leadership; scholarship and field building; and organizational change. The secret to Janke’s success? Her commitment, her collaborative spirit, and her comprehensive vision.

As the Special Assistant for Community Engagement, Janke convenes colleagues, leverages resources, and facilitates the development of people and infrastructure to encourage, support, elevate, and amplify faculty, staff, student, and community colleague community-engaged teaching, learning, research, creative activity, and service in ways that promote the strategic goals of the university, address pressing issues in the Piedmont Triad and serve the public good of communities across the state, nation, and world. She has spent the last 18 months leading a visioning and planning process for UNCG to enhance communication/coordination strategies and develop infrastructure for strategic and pervasive community engagement initiatives across UNCG.

Janke is the lead designer of the UNCG Community Engagement Collaboratory, a cutting-edge database-driven website that enhances the university’s ability to track and assess the impact of community engagement, for the purpose of identifying and accessing existing and new resources needed to support institutional capacity building and to facilitate collaboration, resource sharing, grant development, and other activities. The database, along with a new website for community engagement, will debut on July 16th, and will be available to the public at

Previously, Janke served as the Assistant Director for Service-Learning in the Office of Leadership and Service-Learning, where she provided curricular, administrative, and partnership support to faculty members and students who wished to enhance their teaching, learning, research, and service through academic service-learning and community-engaged scholarship.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Janke and others around campus, UNCG is quickly becoming a national leader in community engagement. UNCG was among a select group of 119 universities and colleges nationwide to be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for its 2008 Community Engagement Classification. UNCG received the classification in both categories: curricular engagement, and outreach and partnerships. UNCG was also recognized on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes colleges and universities nationwide for exemplary, innovative, and effective community service programs.

In 2010, UNCG revised its promotion and tenure guidelines to recognize community-engagement as an integrated part of research, teaching, and service, making UNCG a university of choice for the next generation of faculty. “UNCG was the first institution within the University of North Carolina 16-campus system to modify its promotion and tenure guidelines to recognize and reward community-engaged scholarship,” said Dave Perrin, UNCG Provost. “Dr. Janke served as a catalyst to this change on our campus. She identified and brought to campus national experts on community-engaged scholarship to work with Deans, Department Chairs, and faculty on a new approach to thinking about promotion and tenure reviews of faculty engaged in this form of civic engagement.”

Janke’s award is just one out of several granted to members of UNCG for their passion for and commitment to community engagement. In February of 2012, associate professor Spoma Jovanovic received the Robert L. Sigmon Service-Learning Award, and Chancellor Brady received the Leo M. Lambert Award for Engaged Leaders from North Carolina Campus Compact, and graduate student Kristin Buchner was awarded a Fellowship for Publicly Active Graduate Education by the national nonprofit Imagining America.

A program of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the American Democracy Project focuses on higher education’s role in preparing our democracy’s next generation of informed, engaged citizens. Specifically, the initiative seeks to produce college graduates who will become actively involved in their communities.

Jen Domagal-Goldman (ADP National Manager), Paul Markham (Awardee), George Mehaffy (ADP Founder), Emily Janke (Awardee), and John Saltmarsh (Award Namesake and Co-Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts)


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