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The Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award was established in 2000 by Provost Dick Richardson to recognize extraordinary public service and engaged scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This award recognizes faculty members or university units for exemplary engaged scholarship in service to the state of North Carolina. Recipients of the award serve as an example of excellence, including responsiveness to community concerns and strong community partnerships.

Three Provost awards are given, one each for:

  • Engaged teaching,
  • Engaged research and
  • Engaged partnership.

Recipients receive a $500 award and recognition at the annual Public Service Awards ceremony. Previous recipients of Public Service Awards are not eligible. View a list of previous recipients.

Nominations for the 2023 Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards are closed. Nominations for the 2024 Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards will be open November 2023 until February 2024 in the CCPS Application and Nomination Portal.

2022 award recipients


Allison De Marco, Ph.D., advanced research scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and adjunct assistant professor in the School of Social Work, is recognized for her partnership with the Community Empowerment Fund on an undergraduate service-learning course focused on economic justice.

De Marco has partnered in multiple ways with the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), a Chapel Hill and Durham-based nonprofit founded by Carolina students which, since 2009, has worked to end the racial wealth gap by supporting over 3,000 members (persons experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity) annually, in reaching employment, housing, and finance goals via person-centered support, financial education and asset building.

For six years, De Marco has taught an undergraduate service-learning course through the School of Social Work with a focus on economic justice. Students serve as volunteer advocates with CEF and receive training in conducting racial equity assessments. They learn to develop solutions around transit planning, historical zoning decisions, community engagement for comprehensive plan development, environmental justice issues surrounding coal ash, affordable housing and land use, and property redevelopment. Each year, they present their findings to local elected officials and other leaders in Orange County.

In addition to her undergraduate teaching, De Marco has served as an internship supervisor for 12 Masters of Social Work students who have been placed at CEF. Her work has received national scholarly attention, and the team of partners have been inducted into the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, conducting applied research to advance health.


Tonya Van Deinse, Ph.D., MSW, clinical associate professor at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work, is recognized for addressing mental illness issues in the North Carolina criminal legal system.

Over the last several years, Van Deinse has worked closely with Durham County community partners (e.g., government and mental health providers) to enhance mental health screening and identification processes in area prisons and to implement and evaluate a re-entry program for people with mental illness and substance use disorder. She is completing a community capacity assessment of county supports for people with mental illness in the criminal legal system. She also serves on various community committees focused on programming for Durham residents with mental illness.

At the statewide level, Van Deinse was selected by the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission to conduct the Victims of Crime Needs Assessment, which examined the effectiveness of support structures in addressing the needs of victims. The assessment focused on underserved groups including tribal communities, immigrants, older adults, and LGBTQ+ individuals. The assessment was developed in partnership with state and community providers and advocacy organizations.

In addition, Van Deinse is co-leading a state-wide evaluability assessment of family justice centers that address the needs of people who experience intimate partner violence. This project builds from a North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS) community engagement award, continuing relationships established four years ago.


Danielle Spurlock, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the College of Arts and Sciences, is recognized for leading a sustained partnership between Communities in Partnership in Durham, UNC’s Department of City and Regional Planning and Duke’s Nicholas Institute and World Food Policy Center.

Over the past six and a half years, Spurlock has provided the support the team needed to implement a community-based participatory research model designed to fully empower community partners in decision making.

In addition to this specific partnership, nominators noted Danielle’s active support of several rural and urban communities with research and community engagement on policy issues, including a food housing justice in partnership with Communities in Partnership in Durham. She’s also supported the work of area Black and indigenous farmers.

Spurlock’s research explores the relationships among land use, the environment, human behavior, and structural inequality on a variety of research projects including social stratification and its impact of the siting of hazardous land uses; social vulnerability and emergency preparedness; and the impact of land use decisions on ecosystems services.

One nominator wrote, “As one of her mentees, I can say she is my model for how to implement research justice practices with community partnerships and how to justly engage students with communities in ways that don’t overburden community partners with supervision and training. I often ask myself ‘What would Danielle (Dr. Spurlock) do?’”


2022-2023 Public Service Award Committee

Van Adamson-Thompson

Executive Branch of Undergraduate Student Government

Lynn Blanchard

Carolina Center for Public Service

Aisha Booze-Hall

The Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Meg Landfried

Department of Health Behavior

Ryan Lavalley

Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Sarah Miles

Graduate and Professional Student Government, Department of History

Josmell Perez

Carolina Latinx Center


For more information, contact Ryan Nilsen.