Auburn University officials invited to White House to discuss higher education's role in justice system reform

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Auburn University officials will travel to the White House this week to participate in an invitational roundtable on criminal justice reform and the role of higher education.

Kyes Stevens, the founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn, and Provost Timothy Boosinger will join a select group of prison higher education directors and provosts from colleges and universities around the nation to explore the role of higher education and the myriad challenges facing the current criminal justice system.

"This is an incredible opportunity to share the academic goals of Auburn University and the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project with the current administration," said Stevens. "The voices that will join at this table are long-established and successful models from around the nation, and we all welcome the opportunity to inform the national dialogue about higher education needs in prisons in the U.S."

Since 2002, the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project has grown to offer college-level courses in 10 prisons in Alabama, working with both men's and women's facilities to gain access to quality and sustained academic programming. It has served more than 2,400 students with more than 240 semester-length classes in the arts, humanities, human sciences and STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, since its inception.

"This program supports educational opportunities for a specific community of the state," said Boosinger. "It also provides Auburn faculty, students and staff the opportunity to better understand the challenges facing the state of Alabama."

The Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project is funded by grants, including a recent $120,000 grant from the Laughing Gull Foundation to support STEM classes.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.