Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

Janna Robertson Honored for Public Service and Community Engagement

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Janna Robertson

WCE professor Janna Robertson has received UNCW’s Distinguished Scholarly Engagement and Public Service Award (Senior Scholar) for her passion, commitment and service to the Wilmington community and the region. The award, presented at the university’s fall faculty meeting on September 6, was one of 11 given to recognize faculty who have gone beyond the call of duty in supporting students, advancing research and strengthening the community.

Robertson is also the UNCW nominee for the 2016 Governor James E. Holshouser, Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Service, awarded annually by the UNC Board of Governors.

Robertson is co-coordinator of WCE’s Dropout Prevention Coalition, an organization she co-founded in 2011 that brings together representatives from schools, colleges, PTAs, government agencies, community organizations, businesses, the faith-based community and parents to energize and support efforts to help students stay in and succeed in school.

Additional engagement and service efforts include serving as a researcher on the Safer School Task Force, the New Hanover Interagency Agreement on disciplinary action and other initiatives to break the school-to-prison pipeline. She also led a community-wide effort to beautify a section of downtown Wilmington through the creation of a 240-foot mural at The DREAMS Center for Arts Education.

Robertson is very deserving of the prestigious university award for public service and engagement, said Watson College Dean Van O. Dempsey. He cited the broad scope of her contributions, skill at bringing together collaborators and stakeholders, creativity and scholarly commitment to the intellectual quality of her work, and sense of passion and purpose.

“Dr. Robertson works to find and create new ways to confront community challenges in constructive and collaborative ways,” Dempsey said.

“As her dean, professional colleague, and member of the Wilmington community, I have a deep sense of respect and admiration for her work,” he said. “Dr. Robertson is the epitome of bringing together the resources of the university and the community to not only serve, but to enhance and celebrate the public good. Her work represents the best of the tripartite mission of the academy, and no doubt lives have been changed for the better due to her work.”

Robertson said she is “grateful, honored and humbled” to receive UNCW’s award and nomination for the state public service award. “I have the best job in the world since I work with a diverse community that wants to become a wonderful place for all of us to live,” she said.

UNCW’s award-winning faculty were recognized in a story on the UNCW home page on September 7: https://uncw.edu/news/2016/09/uncw-recognizes-award-winning-faculty.html.

‘Forest of DREAMS’ Mural Project

Hundreds of local artists and volunteers participated in the ‘Forest of DREAMS’ mural project, which was initiated by Robertson in partnership with DREAMS of Wilmington. The finished work of art, located at the corner of Tenth and Fanning streets in downtown Wilmington, was unveiled to the public at an event on June 11.

The project drew attention from local media, earned support from dozens of local businesses and community organizations and captured the hearts of local residents. The mural is now a featured attraction for tourists and visitors to Wilmington.

New Hanover High School senior Sarah Shapiro produced a documentary about the project. The video, shown at a June meeting of the Wilmington City Council, can be viewed here.

For more information on the Forest of Dreams mural visit https://www.facebook.com/forestofdreamsmural.

Also see a related story about Robertson’s signature contribution to the project, a 20-foot alligator named Wally, in the ‘Our College Community’ section of this newsletter.