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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Keynote Speakers:

nancy thomasNancy Thomas, Director, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, Tufts University 

Nancy L. Thomas directs the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE) at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. IDHE is an applied research center that studies higher education’s role in American democracy and supports college and university student political learning and participation. The Institute's signature initiative, the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) examines student voting rates, patterns, and conditions. Through NSLVE, nearly 1,200 U.S. colleges and universities receive tailored reports containing their students’ aggregate voting rates following each federal election. Her work and scholarship interests include college student civic learning and participation in democracy, campus climates for political engagement, deliberative democracy, political equity and inclusion, and campus free speech and academic freedom. She holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a law degree from Case Western Research University’s School of Law.



samory pruittSamory Pruitt, Vice President for Community Affairs, University of Alabama 

Dr. Pruitt is a three-time graduate of The University of Alabama. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1984, a master’s in public administration in 1998, and a Ph.D. in higher education administration in 2003. He has worked at the University since 1986 in positions of increasing responsibility in management and administration in the divisions of Financial Affairs and University Advancement before being named the first vice president of the Division of Community Affairs. He also taught mathematics as an adjunct faculty member at Shelton State Community College from 1991 to 2003.

In August 2004, then-President Robert E. Witt announced the creation of the Division of Community Affairs and appointed Dr. Pruitt to serve as its vice president. In announcing his decision, President Witt articulated that Community Affairs would serve as a bridge for two different and equally important communities: the campus community and the external community. In addition to developing strategies to engage the external community, the division would also develop strategies to address the changing cultural demographics taking place within the campus community.

A member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Engagement Scholarship Consortium (formerly National Outreach Scholarship Conference), Pruitt was named vice president of ESC in 2012. (see http://engagementscholarship.org/).


Hayley SpellmanHayley Spellman, Student, Kansas State University

Hayley is a fifth-year senior at Kansas State University dual majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies. As an undergraduate student, she has served in numerous positions in the KSU Student Governing Association since 2017, including her role as the 2018-2019 Governmental Relations Committee Chair and the 2019-2020 SGA Elections Commissioner. In the fall of 2018, she helped lead a campus-wide initiative for National Voter Registration Day, where she sparked a career-long interest for voter registration and youth civic engagement. In Fall 2019, Hayley Spellman founded a new student organization called Wildcats Vote, where she also serves as the President. Following the guidance from recent National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) reports, Wildcats Vote focuses on building relationships throughout the K-State and local community to promote increased voter registration and turnout rates. Going into the 2020 Election, the organization has taken leadership on making civic engagement a priority at K-State,