Spotlight on Excellence in Engagement

The inaugural Presidential Awards for Outstanding Faculty-Led Engaged Teaching, Engaged Research/Scholarship and Engaged Service were presented to three distinguished faculty members by President Kelly at the 2017 Honors Convocation Ceremony.  Our heartiest congratulations to these engaged faculty members.  

The recipient of the 2017 Presidential Award for Outstanding Engaged Teaching is Dr. Rhonda Goodman, Associate Professor in the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing. 

Since 2012 Dr. Goodman has taken over 200 graduate nursing students to rural Guatemala in order to provide health care to the under-served indigenous Maya population while providing professional and cultural learning opportunities for her students. The program has grown from one week per year to five weeks per year. 

She and her students have formed collaborations with local non-governmental organizations, health care providers and village leaders to educate, assess, diagnose, screen, and treat over 5,000 indigenous Maya, in more than 14 villages, for multiple illnesses and injuries. 

“Our purpose is to strive to make a difference in this world, and to provide multicultural experiences in which our students learn and practice,” said Goodman. “Not only are we helping an international community in need, but our students can translate these experiences and knowledge to the different cultural groups in South Florida.”   Dr.  Goodman exemplifies a commitment to experiential learning and the value it has in our local communities.  


The recipient of the 2017 Presidential Award for Outstanding Engaged Research/Scholarship is Dr. Jeanette Wyneken, Professor in the Department of Biological Science, in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

Dr. Wyneken’s research on sea turtles exemplifies authentic reciprocal engagement with the community.   Her research initiatives contribute to the creation of new knowledge through collaborative partnerships with three major marine research centers in South Florida as well as centers in other states and countries, experiential learning/research opportunities for her students, and resulted in over 11 co-authored articles, chapters, and publications on marine turtle health, conservation and morphology. 

According to Dr. Kirt Rusenko, Marine Conservationist at Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex, Dr. Wyneken’s work has expanded public awareness and attention to the importance of marine life and resulted in a significant increase in attendance at the Complex to approximately 200,000 visitors and over 15,000 K-12 students annually.  Many of these visitors return home and sign up to receive updated tracking on the sea turtles at the Complex.

As Dr. Wyneken states, “Simply put, it is through our partnerships with the community that we are able to do the science that we do AND add welcomed new perspectives and innovative research ideas that enhance value to the science….”  Dr. Wyneken truly demonstrates that collaborative spirit.  


The recipient of the 2017 Presidential Award for Outstanding Engaged Service is Dr. Adam Dobrin, Associate Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, in the College of Design and Social Inquiry. 

Dr. Dobrin’s service to the community exemplifies the reciprocal benefits of his engagement.  By combining his academic background and expertise in criminology with professional training in law enforcement, Dr. Dobrin practices the discipline he teaches – and both his research and his community benefit from that relationship.  As a volunteer Reserve Deputy with the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, he volunteers his professional and academic training to serve as a subject matter expert in crime data; develops and conducts training initiatives on the relationship between animal abuse and human violence, domestic violence, child maltreatment and elder abuse; and utilizes volunteer policing as a mechanism to foster meaningful communication between the police and the community.  Toward that goal, he is working toward securing grant funding, in collaboration with the Port St. Lucie’s Sheriff’s Office, to support the recruitment, training, and staffing of volunteer deputies from disenfranchised minority communities. 

Dr. Dobrin’s perspective on engagement can be explained in his own words, “Instead of simply criticizing issues within the policing world, I have taken the step outside of the traditional academic comfort zone and into the ‘hands-on’ world of helping out those in need. It fortifies my ability to serve FAU as a faculty member, strengthens my ties to my local community, and ultimately makes the community in which I am raising a family a better place.”  Dr. Dobrin’s efforts bring distinction and positive change to both FAU and his community.  

 Last Modified 7/13/17