Awards celebrate community partnerships and Billups legacy

June 11, 2013

by Susannah Brooks

As dean of students and director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service, Mary Rouse helped bring the massive scale of UW-Madison down to a one-on-one level, connecting students and others from varied backgrounds to make the university community a better place.

Photo: Mary Rouse

Mary Rouse

When Rouse retired in 2005, she named the formation of on- and off-campus community partnerships as her biggest achievement. It’s fitting, then, that Rouse will receive the first LaMarr Billups Community-University Engagement Award for outstanding contributions to campus-community partnership initiatives. Billups, a respected community leader at and around UW-Madison, passed away in 2011.

Rouse is one of several honorees who will be recognized at the Community-University Partnership Awards on Wednesday, June 12 at Olin House. The awards are sponsored by UW-Madison’s Office of Community Relations and Community Partnerships and Outreach (CPO) Staff Network, with support from the Office of the Chancellor and the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

The Community-University Partnership Awards recognize the work of UW-Madison faculty, staff and students, along with community partners as they address pressing public issues in Madison and the surrounding region. In thanking these community partners, the awards highlight exemplary partnerships that get to the heart of the Wisconsin Idea: community members and UW-Madison personnel working collaboratively to transform the campus and community for the public good.

Known as a skilled ambassador between the university and city, LaMarr Billups was deeply committed to key civic institutions and social causes.

Known as a skilled ambassador between the university and city, Billups was deeply committed to key civic institutions and social causes. At UW-Madison, he served as director of community relations and senior special assistant to chancellors David Ward and John Wiley.

From the late 1990s until he left the university in 2007, Billups and Rouse worked closely together on a variety of projects, most notably the establishment of a university outreach center at what is now known as the Village on Park.

Rouse remembers Billups fondly, both as a dedicated public servant and as an individual. She considers the award itself an honor for Billups and his legacy.

“I’d call him a communitarian: he brought the community into the campus and the campus into the community, for mutually beneficial purposes,” says Rouse. “People knew him as a go-to person whom they could approach. He’d sit down, listen carefully and say, ‘Okay, what can we do here to strengthen and support our beloved community?’ And he was a lot of fun.”

This year’s honorees also include:

Field to Foodbank, a partnership between Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin and Jed Colquhoun, professor of horticulture.

International Crane Foundation Conservation Partnership, a collaboration between the International Crane Foundation and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Improving Health Literacy for English-Language Learners, a partnership between the Literacy Network of Dane County and the Primary Care Clerkship and Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) at the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH).

The Jail Library Project, a partnership between the Dane County Library Service, Dane County Sheriff’s Office and the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS).

Southwest Madison Community Organizers (SWMCO), a partnership between neighborhood leaders representing the five neighborhoods under the SWMCO umbrella, Southwest Youth leaders from Youth Empowering Solutions (YES) and Meadowood Youth Advisory Board, Public Health of Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) and UW-Madison faculty members and graduate students from the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, School of Human Ecology, School of Education and School of Social Work.

Earth Partnership for Schools, a collaboration between the Cambridge School District and the UW Arboretum.

Formando Lazos Familiares, a partnership between the Formando Lazos Familiares Committee (including community members representing the Catholic Multicultural Center, Dance County Department of Human Services, the Rainbow Project and Catholic Charities, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Bethel Lutheran Church and UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence) and Lynet Uttal, professor of human development and family studies.