Orr’s outreach, impact lauded

Shannon-Orr
Honoring Shannon Orr for her Community Involvement Award were Provost Joe Whitehead (left) and President Rodney Rogers.

In honor of her outstanding commitment to serving the wider community, Dr. Shannon Orr, professor of political science, was presented with the 2019 Faculty Senate Community Involvement Award at the April 16 Faculty Excellence Awards.

The award recognizes a faculty member for outstanding contributions to the community, as well as the importance of faculty service and the contribution of community involvement to the education and image of Bowling Green State University. It includes a $1,000 cash award.

In her nomination of Orr, Dr. Melissa Miller, associate professor of political science, wrote: “A model for students and faculty alike, Dr. Orr’s ability to lead projects, work with stakeholders and achieve results is truly impressive.”

Orr’s contributions to the community include mentoring more than 100 student service-learning projects, serving as co-chair of the city of Bowling Green’s Charter Review Committee and leading the building and opening of the Black Swamp Curling Center as president of the Bowling Green Curling Club. She is also coordinator of the University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program and helped lead the program’s accreditation by NAASPA, the “gold standard” in graduate programs in public affairs accreditation. Not only was BGSU’s program accredited, it received a special commendation for its service-learning and civic engagement component.

“[In this role], she has been the guiding force in reshaping [the program] from a largely seminar-based curriculum to one that emphasizes serving learning, hands-on projects and community engagement,” wrote Dr. Neil Englehart, chair of the political science department, in support of her nomination. “She championed the development of a capstone MPA course that requires students to engage in a client-based project. This not only better equips our students for careers in public administration, but also builds community partnerships that benefit the program, the department and the University.”

This semester, Orr’s students are assisting the Weston Public Library with its strategic planning, working on alternative land uses for the BGSU golf course and exploring the establishment of a rocket park and possible business partnerships in Sandusky for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“I was so intrigued by the NASA project that I reached out to Dr. Orr to find out how it came about,” Miller said. “She humbly explained that NASA reached out to her, having heard about the great work her students had done on another project.

“When the city of Bowling Green wished to review and revise the city’s charter, it is little wonder they turned to Dr. Orr.”

Bowling Green Mayor Richard Edwards agreed.

“When I approached Dr. Orr to lend her expertise and knowledge to the process of reviewing the city charter, she responded in the affirmative without hesitation or reservation,” he wrote. “She very quickly assessed the situation and offered some very constructive thoughts and recommendations on how the city might go about the process of a thorough review. The conclusion of her great work resulted in the adoption of well-thought-out changes to the charter being passed by the voters of Bowling Green on Nov. 6, 2018.”

Dr. V Rosser, director of the Center for Community and Civic Engagement, supported Orr’s nomination for this award by sharing how her efforts have impacted the University’s reputation.

“In her teaching and research activities, Dr. Orr has provided leadership for her unit in establishing an outstanding reputation in our region and beyond for developing strong partnerships with regional nonprofits, government entities and community coalitions,” Rosser wrote. “I have worked with many faculty members at different institutions and I would rate Dr. Orr within the top 1 percent of community-engaged colleagues.

“She brings passion and focus to her commitments and is generous with her time and her support. Her efforts have made a real difference in many communities in our region, and beyond.”