WORCESTER, Mass. – Robert Krueger, PhD, Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) director of the Worcester Community Project Center, director of environmental studies, and assistant professor of geography, received the second annual William Meinhofer Award for Faculty Excellence on March 11 from the Worcester UniverCity Partnership at a ceremony held at Clark University in Worcester. Krueger shares the 2008 award with Laurie Ross, PhD, an assistant professor at Clark University. The award is given to college or university faculty who enable students to engage in community-based work that was important to the award's namesake, William Meinhofer, who had served as director of the Donelan Office of Community-based Learning at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.
The Worcester UniverCity Partnership is a coalition of public and private organizations working in cooperation with central Massachusetts colleges and universities to explore and implement partnerships that increase the positive impact of higher education in the city and the region, especially in the area of economic development. The organization launched the Meinhofer Award last year to continually honor the late Meinhofer's work. Nominees were judged on their sustained efforts to link scholarship to significant needs in the greater community; the impact of their work on campus as a result of community engagement efforts; measurable successes in establishing campus-community collaborations; their engagement of students in community-based collaborations; and their use of creative and innovative approaches to teaching and research.
"Robert Krueger has sought to ensure that the reach of the projects coming out of the Worcester Community Project Center extend beyond the immediate partner to the wider community," said Armand W. Carriere, executive director of the Worcester UniverCity Partnership. "During Dr. Krueger's time as director of the project center, support for the program has steadily grown throughout the community. A key to this success has been his ability to engage not only students but also other faculty members in these varied projects.
"We are privileged to be able to acknowledge Bill Meinhofer's commitment to community-based learning and the city of Worcester by awarding the second annual William Meinhofer Award for Faculty Excellence to Professor Robert Krueger of WPI," Carriere added. "This award acknowledges Bill's legacy and his ability to bring the resources of the classroom to bear on urban issues, big and small."
Krueger, an Oklahoma native, has been director of the Worcester Community Project Center since 2002. A geographer by training, he is an international authority on sustainable development, an emerging field that connects economic development with long-term environmental responsibility and a commitment to social justice. Krueger has focused the project center's work on the Worcester community's needs and concerns, such as public education, youth and social services, community development, environmental justice, affordable housing, and economic development. Current priorities include working with community partners to develop and train students for "green collar" jobs in Worcester, incorporating an ecological service perspective in Worcester's development decisions, and affordable housing. Under Krueger's leadership, the center has organized and hosted two major workshops focused on sustainable development for cities and regions. Krueger has also helped develop WPI's soon-to-be-launched bachelor's of arts degree program in environmental studies.
"The Meinhofer Award is wonderful recognition of the work that Professor Krueger does to connect WPI students and faculty to the Worcester community," said Richard F. Vaz, dean of WPI's Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. "Through their projects with local organizations, our students make substantial contributions to Worcester and its residents while learning more about how cities work, and developing a sense of civic involvement. Professor Krueger really believes in that model, and his expertise in sustainability brings it all together in very effective ways."
In 2007, Krueger and the Worcester Community Project Center were honored with the inaugural George I. Alden Award for campus-based educational excellence from the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. The award recognized the university's project center and Krueger for their contributions to improving the quality of life for citizens of Worcester over the course of nearly a decade. Krueger was also honored in 2007 with the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education. His recent book (with co-editor David Gibbs of the University of Hull, England), The Sustainable Development Paradox: Urban Political Economy in the United States and Europe, brings together international scholars to examine issues critical to conceptualizing and delivering sustainble development.
According to Krueger, "The Meinhofer Award recognizes the commitment, resources, and approach to community development that WPI and the Worcester Community Project Center bring to Worcester. However, without our committed community partners, which represent Worcester's diverse population, this award would not be possible.
"By engaging in intellectually stimulating and socially rewarding projects, we not only work together to improve our city, but we also sow the seeds for improving civic engagement in our communities," added Krueger. "The Worcester Community Project Center is a vehicle for bringing residents from diverse backgrounds together to solve community issues collaboratively. I am honored to be part of a community collaboration that is worthy of an award that carries, in name and spirit, the work of Bill Meinhofer."