Button Campaign Helps Highlight Student, Faculty, and Staff Contributions in the Region

The UNCW Office of Community Engagement has launched a new awareness effort on campus to raise the visibility of faculty, staff and students as they do work in the surrounding communities and across the state, using buttons like the one to the left.

“At several open forums and UNCW events, I kept hearing from community members that they didn’t see UNCW students, faculty and staff in the larger community, and I was surprised by that perception,” said Lori Messinger, Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement. “So many of our faculty are conducting research with regional businesses and organizations. UNCW students are engaged in service learning projects, internships and student teaching and community service projects. Our faculty and staff also serve as volunteers in schools, board members for regional nonprofit groups and leaders in community settings.”

Messinger consulted the new Advisory Board for Community Engagement, comprised of UNCW administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as community members representing military, corporate, nonprofit, retirees, alumni and local government for ideas to address the lack of visibility. Board members involved in community engagement activities noted that no one knew which volunteers or students were associated with UNCW.

“UNCW’s volunteers and students needed a symbol to wear showing their connection with the university,” said Messinger.

This realization gave rise to the idea of an engagement button, something that faculty, staff and students could wear when they were doing engagement work. The hashtag on the button, #EngageUNCW, was developed by the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement (OSLE) under the direction of director Jaime Russell, and it has been expanded to include all faculty, staff and student engagement.

“We hope everyone will wear these buttons whenever they are in the community,” said Messinger. “People need to know who we are and the difference we make.”

Anyone who would like #EngageUNCW buttons can contact Scot Kelly (kellyas@uncw.edu). Large quantities of buttons can be sent to unit leaders and faculty for students enrolled in applied learning courses.