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K-State Today

March 20, 2024

Faculty Engagement Champions: APDesign recognizes exemplary community engagement in housing

Submitted by Thom Jackson

The College of Architecture, Planning & Design, or APDesign, in collaboration with the Office of Engagement, unveils a pioneering initiative aimed at celebrating and supporting faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to community engagement.

The pilot award, titled "Faculty Engagement Champions," aims to recognize and empower faculty members who are at the forefront of community-engaged work. This funding is provided to advance K-State's Next-Gen strategic plan priority to "integrate engagement across all we do."

Following a rigorous selection process within the college, a distinguished team of three APDesign faculty members has been identified as community-engagement champions. The team, composed of Associate Professor Michael Gibson, Assistant Professor Mariana Junqueira and Assistant Professor Susmita Rishi, has been lauded for their outstanding contributions in the field of resilient and affordable housing.

The interdisciplinary nature of the team, spanning disciplines such as architecture, interior architecture, and regional and community planning, underscores the holistic approach they bring to addressing the pressing issue of housing affordability. Their collaborative efforts have resulted in the proposal titled "Housing Working Group," which aims to catalyze critical advancements in the field.

The primary objectives of the "Housing Working Group" encompass convening and advancing faculty members across K-State who are engaged in housing-related research and initiatives. Through a process of organizing interests and expertise, the team aims to chart a course for future endeavors, fostering an inclusive vision that resonates beyond the confines of the university.

Reflecting on the significance of the Faculty Engagement Champion award, the team expressed their anticipation for the broader impact it will engender.

"Collectively, we aim to better situate APDesign and K-State to engage future partners, strengthen curricular linkages and expand research funding in housing," remarked the team.

Housing affordability remains a critical issue not only nationally but also within the state of Kansas. Many households in the region grapple with cost-burden of housing, defined as spending more than 30% of the household's income on housing. The expertise brought forth by K-State's community-engaged researchers, ranging from low-income housing policy to energy-efficient design and cultural considerations, positions them as invaluable assets in tackling this multifaceted challenge.

"K-State's APDesign has an impressive track record of scholarly engagement that adds practical value to the education of every student in the college," said Tim Steffensmeier, assistant vice president of engagement and outreach. "These inaugural engagement champions will help us learn how to scale engagement efforts across campus."

For more information on the Faculty Engagement Champions and the impactful work of APDesign faculty members, please visit apdesign.k-state.edu/. For more information about engagement by K-State, please visit the Office of Engagement website.