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WVU public administration professor named Outstanding Community Development Educator

margaret stoutMargaret Stout, associate professor of public administration at West Virginia University, was recently awarded the Outstanding Community Development Educator Award by the Community Development Society on June 13. The society’s annual conference was held in conjunction with the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals, and included an awards banquet for the two groups. 

The award is presented to a CDS member in recognition for their outstanding contributions within community development education. The recipient exemplifies the principles of good practice, as adopted by the society, and illustrate them in their educational practice within all educational settings. 

The event program explained:

“Professor Stout’s courses take the student (and the community) step-by-step through the community development process in ways that increase both theoretical and practical knowledge, and serve the communities that are part of the service learning application of cutting edge theory and practice. Her courses provide real-world learning experience for her students, centered on best practices and collaborative community development. 

“As her students noted, ‘One of the very first pillars that we learned is that community members must be leading the change, hence her and now my mantra, ‘We are here to work with you, not for you … Dr. Stout is not just an expert, but an expert on tap who encourages absolute participation and involvement of residents in the matters that affect them, and teaches her students like me, to see it as the perfect things to do.’”

Craig Talmage—who co-led the award ceremony with Michael Dougherty, extension specialist and professor in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design—said that the society had never received so many letters of recommendation for an award nomination from students, colleagues and community members alike. 

Stout thanked Cornelia Flora and the awards committee for their consideration of this award.

“As a long-time community development practitioner-turned academic, this is a particularly meaningful award to me,” she said. “As some of my early students like Carrie Staton can tell you, it was difficult for me to translate training staff and peers to teaching newly minted bachelors in graduate courses. Not everyone taking an elective in community development for a master’s degree in public administration is as passionate and driven as those wishing to prepare for a career in this work.

Stout said that she spent a lot of time developing a curriculum that built core competencies in the principles of good practice while giving back to the community.

“Sorting out assignments that marry the two purposes without overwhelming students with work is a real challenge,” she said. “Even with significant attention to this balance, my students and I all work really hard. 

In fact, I share this award with those students—we are in a learning relationship that goes both ways. I continue to learn with them and from them. I’m thrilled to receive this award—I hope to leverage it toward expanded curriculum in community development at WVU.”