Francesca Adler-Baeder, a professor in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University, received the Outstanding Engagement Award from the Board on Human Sciences at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, or APLU.
The award recognizes a campus-based or state-level faculty member for exceptional creativity and scholarship in the development, application and evaluation of outreach, extension and public service programs. Board on Human Sciences member institutions can nominate one individual each year. There are currently 50 member institutions across the county.
In a nomination letter for Adler-Baeder, Joe Pittman, head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn said, "No one's career better reflects the goals of this award. Her extension and outreach work has engaged numerous individuals, community and government agencies and leaders in the field of relationship education and research while positively affecting individuals and couples, whether unmarried, married or remarried."
Adler-Baeder has been involved in extension and outreach efforts centered on building healthy, stable couple and co-parenting relationships in Alabama for 15 years and is a founding member and co-director of the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network and director of the National Stepfamily Resource Center.
Since creating the Alabama Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Initiative in 2002, Adler-Baeder has received more than $32 million in competitive grants to implement the program throughout the state. More than 55,000 citizens have completed a class series and hundreds of thousands have utilized educational resources either through the project website or two initiative-produced handbooks distributed throughout the state.
"Dr. Adler-Baeder's outreach work combines research on needs assessed at the individual and state-level, research-based curriculum development and a delivery strategy that empowers others and enhances their quality of life," said Pittman. "Consistent with the commitment to diversity shared by land-grant universities and the Board on Human Sciences, she serves people diverse in age, ethnicity, gender, relationship status, life course stage and level of need."
Adler-Baeder's extension effort also has provided an engaged scholarship learning lab for over 450 undergraduate students from multiple disciplines and over 70 graduate students. She has published over 65 academic, peer-reviewed papers relevant to enhancing relational health through community education. She has also created multiple written and video-based outreach products, including several program guides and handbooks.
"This award truly belongs to the hundreds of community partners, staff, faculty and students who have shared the vision and done the hard work to implement and refine programs in schools and communities – and to the citizens who have voluntarily attended and provided valuable data that validates these efforts," said Adler-Baeder. "Healthy relationships are fundamental to health and well-being in all other facets of our lives and we are grateful for the support and motivated by the evidence of effectiveness."
As a leader in the field of healthy relationships initiatives and university-community partnerships, Adler-Baeder has been invited to speak over 300 times in the last 10 years, including The White House Roundtable on Innovative Community Partnerships engaging faith-based and community organizations.
She has been the recipient of numerous university, state and national awards, including recent recognition as a fellow at the National Council on Family Relations conference for career achievement in family science research. Auburn recognized her with its Outstanding Diversity Researcher in 2009 and the Excellence in Faculty Outreach award in 2013.
"This record of public service, extension and outreach is rare. Dr. Adler-Baeder's work has contributed to the quality of life for children and families in the state of Alabama, but also nationally and even internationally, as she is sought out for the model her work has built," said Pittman.