Lincoln University Professor Delves into Fulbright Award Research

Brian Norris' South American travels reveal social changes in rural Colombia and collaboration opportunities for Lincolnites here at home.

A summer spent among the coffee farms and sugarcane fields of Colombia has yielded a bounty of opportunities for a Lincoln University professor's study of rural local governments in developing nations.

Brian Norris, an associate professor of political science at Lincoln, began work this summer on a three-year study of basic service access in rural areas of Colombia and Mozambique. He hopes to document the success of local communities as they work to provide basic services and infrastructure in their areas. The research is funded by a Fulbright Global Scholar Award Norris won from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Norris is among more than 800 other American citizens conducting research and/or teaching abroad for the 2022-2023 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

"Many people in rural areas of Colombia and Mozambique lack basic services that most Americans take for granted, such as running water, electricity, in-ground sewer, paved roads and more," Norris says. "The governments of Colombia and Mozambique have granted more power and autonomy to rural local governments that are often in a better position to provide services than the national government. In practice, though, it is very difficult to decentralize power in geographically large and sprawling countries of 50 million and 30 million populations, respectively; some rural local governments have done well with their new responsibilities while others have not. I want to know how the successful ones did it, and my Colombian and Mozambican colleagues and I want to document and publish those lessons."

Recently returned from Colombia, Norris spent time getting to know researchers from the four counterpart universities in Colombia who facilitated his travel to five rural communities in Caldas and Risaralda -- Colombia's coffee-growing region --  to interview mayors, school administrators, hospital directors and local police commanders. He then journeyed on to sugarcane areas in Valle del Cauca and wound up his 2022 studies in Cesar province, near the Venezuelan border.

The demographics of the various regions are another focus of Norris's research. "About 10% of the Colombian population is Afro-descendant, and the Valle del Cauca region is closer to the Pacific regions of the country that is more heavily Afro-Colombian," Norris says. "I have already noticed a difference in the social composition of Valle del Cauca compared to other regions."

Through his Fulbright Award, Norris will do similar research in Mozambique next summer and return to Colombia in 2024. By then, he hopes to set up a pilot exchange program for faculty and student exchanges between LU and his Colombian university partners.

"This is both an exciting and daunting prospect," he says. "My university partners and I have been working on a grant proposal for Partners of the Americas, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that has high-level contacts with Latin American governments and funds educational and cultural exchanges, especially those for higher education institutions. If successful, we would bring about 12 Colombian faculty and students to LU in January 2024 and would send the same number of LU faculty and students to Colombia in May 2024. The idea would be that these initial exchanges are meant to assess the possibilities and limitations for future exchange programs and to build an advocacy group for such programs in the future."

Norris says his Colombian partners are excited about the prospect of educational exchanges. The Colombian government is funding the grant competition with emphasis on specific technical areas for funded projects -- agriculture, public health, social sciences with an emphasis on equity and inclusion, human rights/social justice and rural development.

"Many of these areas correspond to Lincoln University's strengths as a public institution with both a theoretical and applied curriculum, and my Colombian partners and I have been carrying out work sessions to identify specific faculty resources dedicated to these areas who might participate in the pilot exchanges," Norris says. "Of course, students would participate, too, especially as the program develops in a second phase in 2025 and 2026. I am already having meetings in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, for second-round funding to get us to that student-centered model of reciprocal exchanges."

As part of this bi-national outreach, Norris gave a talk to college students and faculty at the Catholic University of Luis Amigo in Manizales. The talk was on "inflation in the U.S." and "the U.S.A.s electoral college method of selecting a president", two topics selected by the Colombian faculty in attendance. "Colombia is a democracy, just like the US, and Colombian students and professors have a great curiosity about the US. They are really eager to have an exchange of ideas," said Norris.  

Norris believes the added benefits of his Fulbright work for Lincoln is consonant with LU's existing goals that support development of students' international perspective through understanding and appreciation of various cultures.

He looks forward to other doors opening for collaboration through these initial steps. "The trip has been a resounding success so far," he adds, "and I appreciate the opportunity that Fulbright and Lincoln University have given me to work on this."

Click to view photos from Norris's trip

Lincoln University of Missouri Honors its Heritage Through Iron Riders 125th Anniversary Celebration Sponsorship

Commemorating the 25th Infantry Buffalo Solders Bicycle Corps' arrival in Missouri 125 years ago, Lincoln University of Missouri recently cosponsored the 125th anniversary celebration of the Iron Riders.

Event organizers shared the little-known story of these soldiers and their extraordinary accomplishments through a series of events, July 17-24, at Big Lake State Park, Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site, St. Jude's Square in Monroe City and the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.

"Lincoln University is extremely proud to have cosponsored the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Iron Riders," said Dr. Darius Watson, Lincoln University Interim Dean of Admissions and Enrollment.

As part of an experiment by the U.S. Army to determine the effectiveness of troop movement by bicycle, in July 1897, the all-Black Buffalo Soldiers Bicycle Corps of the 25th Infantry embarked on a bicycle ride of more than 1,900 miles from Fort Missoula, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri. After facing many obstacles such as extreme weather and a shortage of supplies, the 23 men of the journey were given the nickname "Iron Riders" for their iron-hard constitutions and the heavy one-speed bicycles they pedaled.

"Through recognition of the amazing accomplishments of the Iron Riders, Lincoln University was able to help bring together African-American history, the legacy of U.S. military veterans and the history of the state of Missouri in a single narrative that highlights our common heritage and shared pride as Americans,"  Watson said.

In collaboration with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks, the Office of Missouri State Representative Ashley Bland-Manlove, and the Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter of the 9th & 10th Horse Calvary Association, Watson worked on facilitating the Missouri events and served as emcee at the reception in the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, St. Louis, on July 24.

The only HBCU established by Civil War veterans, Lincoln University holds a special relationship with U.S. military history and the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers. 

Lincoln University of Missouri Promotes Curtis Burton to Assistant Dean of Students

JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- Lincoln University (LU) of Missouri has promoted Curtis Burton to assistant dean of students in the Division for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Beginning August 1, Burton will assist in facilitating the institution's strategic plan to support enrollment and retention through holistic co-curricular student experience at LU, one of the nation's top HBCU options for undergraduate and graduate study.

'I am excited to begin working in this new role and continuing to foster an atmosphere of student success," Burton said.

Previously, Burton served as LU assistant director of student engagement in the Office of Student Engagement. As assistant dean of students, Burton's leadership will focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, student rights and responsibility (formerly student conduct), violence prevention initiatives, and student engagement.

Originally from East Saint Louis, Illinois, Curtis earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Lincoln University and a master's in higher education administration from the University of Toledo. His experience includes varying areas within higher education student affairs, including student engagement, residential life, student conduct, and First-Year Experience.

"Curtis brings a wealth of experience to LU at a time where rebuilding the student experience is essential to our recruitment and retention efforts," said Dr. Zakiya Brown, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. "I am excited to continue working with him in this capacity and look forward to the transformative experience he will provide our students."

Lincoln University of Missouri Selects Dr. Danisha Williams as Director of Admissions

JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- Lincoln University of Missouri has selected Dr. Danisha Williams as director of admissions.

Most recently, Williams has served as the director of admission and recruitment at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi, where she implemented an aggressive and strategic recruitment plan that emphasized superior customer service, constant communication, and high visibility. She began her career in higher education in 2010 at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she held various roles in residence life and the Office of Admissions, including director of admission and recruitment.

"Dr. Williams brings a wealth of proven admissions experience to Lincoln, and we are excited to add her talents to our team," said Lincoln University President Dr. John B. Moseley. "We look forward to her support, knowledge and expertise as we continue to grow Lincoln University enrollment in all areas."

As director of admissions, Williams will support the University's strategic plan initiatives to grow enrollment and serve a diverse student population in a culturally responsive atmosphere. She will develop, coordinate, and implement programs and activities for prospective studies and their families, while sharing LU's offerings, values, and merits as one of the nation's top HBCU options for undergraduate and graduate study. She will create and implement an enrollment process that reflects the university's admission vision and goals, facilitate a productive recruitment and admissions strategy for new undergraduates, manage the daily operations of the admissions department, and coordinate on-campus and off-campus recruiting events, visits, and tours.

A native of Champaign, Illinois, Williams holds a Doctor of Education in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University, a Master of Public Administration from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Fisk University.

Williams began her new role at Lincoln on July 15, 2022.

Lincoln University of Missouri Education Professor Selected for Missouri Early Literacy Fellows Program

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Lincoln University of Missouri is pleased to announce Assistant Professor of Education Adria Waters has been selected as an Early Literacy Fellow by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Waters is one of only eight Missouri higher education professors selected for this new initiative which launched earlier this year.

The Early Literacy Fellow program is part of a larger state-wide DESE initiative focused on improving literacy instruction in Missouri. Over the next two years, Waters and the other fellows will make recommendations for increasing alignment between educator preparation for literacy instruction, research in literacy instruction, and current practice in P-12 schools in the state.

As a fellow, Waters is expected to complete the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) Volume 1 training course within the first year of her fellowship. LETRS trains teachers with evidence-based skills in the Science of Reading to help improve teaching students in language and literacy courses. In addition to completing the LETRS training, Waters will attend several workshops starting in fall 2022.

A doctoral candidate at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Waters begins her second year of teaching at Lincoln this fall.

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