By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Melissa Fry, professor of sociology and director of the Applied Research and Education Center (AREC), has been named an Indiana University Bicentennial Professor by the Indiana University Office of the Bicentennial.
Fry is one of only 25 Bicentennial Professors, whose appointments were approved by the IU Board of Trustees at its just completed meeting.
IU’s Bicentennial Professorships program is part of the university’s continued commitment to public outreach and community engagement.
“In the late 1800s Indiana University began to expand its educational mission beyond the Bloomington campus, and IU faculty traveled to all parts of the state to provide Indiana citizens with lectures on art, science, the professions and medicine,” said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. “As part of the its Bicentennial celebrations in 2019-2020, IU will be reviving this earlier tradition of fulfilling our public mission by connecting directly with Hoosiers all across our state.”
Fry and her fellow Bicentennial Professors will travel around the state delivering public presentations at community forums that describe some of their research or professional activities in an engaging and accessible way.
Speaking engagements will be arranged by the Office of the Bicentennial in cooperation with Indiana community leaders, with the aim of reaching all of Indiana’s 92 counties. Bicentennial Professors come from every IU campus.
Bicentennial Professors were nominated through an open call for nominations in spring 2018, reviewed and recommended by the IU executive vice presidents, chancellors, and deans, and approved by President McRobbie and the Board of Trustees.
Fry joined IU Southeast’s School of Social Sciences in 2014. She currently teaches an upper division sociology course titled, “The Community” as well as the program’s “Careers in Sociology” course.
In her research Fry has explored the intersection of political institutions, policy and inequality through work on poverty, homelessness, veterans, education, charter schools, childcare, violence against women, supports for the working poor, among many other pressing social challenges.
As a public and applied sociologist who leverages her academic expertise for the greater social good, Fry focuses on community development through applied work serving area nonprofit organizations, government entities and coalitions.
“As a regional university, we bring a set of tools that can help local organizations use strong data and analysis to improve their work, tell their story and connect their work to that of others,” Fry said.
Under her leadership, AREC has produced a number of influential publications, including:
- 2015 Assessment of Needs and Priorities in Clark and Floyd Counties
- Vision 2025 A Strategic Plan to End Homelessness in Clark and Floyd Counties
- Meaningful Metrics. Women and Girls of Clark, Floyd & Harrison Counties *Baseline Data Profile 2015
“I am pleased to see IU embrace its engagement mission as part of the Bicentennial celebration and am honored to have my own engaged scholarship recognized,” Fry said. “I’m excited to have an opportunity to share observations from eight years of community-engaged work in Southern Indiana and I hope this gives me a chance to meet new people and learn more about what is happening in Indiana communities.”