Presenting the Recipients of the 2019 Ehrlich & Lynton Awards

Two national engaged faculty awards recognize Dr. Diya Abdo (Guilford College) and Dr. Cristina Santamaría Graff (IUPUI).
September 25, 2019

Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education, and Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service are pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of the Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty and the Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award, which is awarded to senior faculty. The two awards recognize faculty for their exemplary engaged scholarship, teaching, and research. Recipients are selected on the basis of their collaboration with communities, institutional impact, and high-quality academic work. The recipients of the 2019 Lynton and Ehrlich Awards will be recognized at Campus Compact’s Compact20 national conference, which will be held in Seattle, WA from March 29 to April 1, 2020.

The 2019 recipient of the Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement is Cristina Santamaría Graff, Assistant Professor of Urban Teacher Education at IUPUI. Santamaría Graff has expertise in bilingual/multilingual special education and applies her skills in working with Latinx immigrant families of children with dis/abilities in community-engaged, family-centered projects. Her scholarship focuses on ways community-engaged partnerships can transform inequitable practices impacting youth with disabilities at the intersections of race, class, and other identity markers of difference. Her efforts are currently focused on “Family as Faculty” (FAF) approaches in special education programs that position community stakeholders’ knowledge and knowledge-making as central to the process of transforming systems. This work has contributed to deeper, reciprocal collaborations not only in her department and university, but also among families, practitioners, administrators, and policymakers statewide.

Santamaría Graff is one of the editors of the journal, "Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners," and an Associate Editor for the "International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education," and many of her own publications have been co-authored with parents, students, or community stakeholders. In addition to receiving several campus teaching awards and IUPUI’s 2018 Charles R. Bantz Chancellor’s Community Scholar Award, her work has been recognized with Indiana Campus Compact’s 2019 Douglas Hiltunen Award for Community-Engaged Research and the American Education Research Association’s 2019 Research Award for Practice-Engaged Research. 

“For me,” Santmaría Graff writes, “community-based and engaged work requires a philosophical shift in how we, as university faculty and scholars, conceive of our roles within and alongside the communities we serve. We enter not as the experts, but rather as collaborators who are eager and ready to listen to community stakeholders’ input, critiques, and suggestions for how we can assist in addressing issues or challenges identified by the community stakeholders, themselves. Rather than entering with ready-made solutions, the work I do is centered in ways to disrupt power hierarchies that, in practice, do not serve communities but, instead, may harm or oppress. The true purpose of community-engaged work is to (re)member our shared humanity, to be intentional in our words and actions, to embody humility courageously, and to ensure equitable processes and outcomes for everyone involved.”

The 2019 Recipient of Thomas Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award is Diya Abdo, Associate Professor of English at Guilford College. Abdo, a first-generation Palestinian who was born and raised in Jordan, has focused her scholarship on Arab and Islamic feminisms with a particular interest in Arab women writers. Abdo has been a leader in harnessing the power of higher education for the public good; In 2015, Abdo founded the Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR) initiative, which advocates for housing refugee families on campuses, based on the idea that colleges and universities have all the resources necessary–housing, food, care, skill-building–to take in refugees and support them as they begin their lives in their new homes. In the past four years, the ECAR initiative has expanded to institutions in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina and continues to grow. Due to her work, Guilford College alone has hosted 53 refugees from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC.

For her work on ECAR, Abdo was named a finalist in the Arab Hope Makers Award (2018). She also was the recipient of the Gulf South Summit’s 2017 Outstanding Service-Learning Collaboration in Higher Education Award and was the foundation for Guilford College’s recognition for The Washington Center’s 2017 Civic Engagement in Higher Education Award.

“Particularly in the current political climate, it has been truly gratifying and gives me hope for the future to see Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR) coming to life from a mere idea I had in a moment of deep despair,” writes Abdo. “As a collective of community partners, and with very modest resources, we host refugees and support them in resettlement at a small college in the Southern U.S. while doing the important work of educating our students and communities on issues of forced migration, displacement, and resettlement. The ECAR model has been adopted by other colleges and universities as an effective and worthwhile vehicle by which we can make small, local dents in a global crisis. Every day, as I interact with any number of partners, students, volunteers, and displaced families, both on campus and off, I witness our collective effort’s profound potential for enacting change on the micro-level of the individual and community.”

“Campus Compact’s efforts aim toward full-participation communities in which the humanity of each person is recognized and cultivated,” said Campus Compact president Andrew Seligsohn. “In their work as scholars, teachers, and partners, Professors Abdo and Santamaria Graff exemplify the profound possibilities of higher education’s commitment to this vision. Driven by their fundamental commitment to human dignity, this year’s recipients demonstrate in practice that colleges and universities can contribute to justice and equity. We are proud to celebrate them.”

Campus Compact has presented the Ehrlich Award annually since 1995, with generous support in recent years from the KPMG Foundation. The Lynton Award was administered by the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) at the University of Massachusetts Boston from 1996 until 2017, when it began being administered by Brown University’s Swearer Center for Public Service. Over the past decade the award has been presented during the Coalition for Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU)’s annual conference, an organization Ernest Lynton helped found and lead. Because both awards evolved in ways meant to honor civic and community engagement across faculty members’ teaching, research/creative activity, and service roles, in 2009, Campus Compact and NERCHE agreed to designate the Ehrlich Award and the Lynton Award for senior faculty and junior faculty, respectively. In 2019, the leaders of CUMU, Campus Compact, and the Swearer Center agreed to a collaborative arrangement of the two awards, with Campus Compact and the Swearer Center promoting and presenting the awards together. For more information on this partnership, visit

The following faculty have been named 2019 Lynton Award finalists: Anjali Dutt, Assistant Professor, Psychology, University of Cincinnati; Oscar Garza, Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems, University of Minnesota; Colin Rhinesmith, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University; Vanessa Rosa, Assistant Professor, Spanish, Latina/o and Latin American Studies, Mount Holyoke College; and Leah Katherine Saal, Assistant Professor, Teacher Education, Loyola University Maryland.

The following faculty have been named 2019 Ehrlich Award finalists: Pablo Bose, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Vermont; Robin Bachin, Assistant Provost for Civic & Community Engagement, University of Miami; Suzanne Cashman, Professor of Community Health, University of Massachusetts Medical School; Joseph Krupczynski, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, UMass Amherst

For eligibility criteria, past recipients, and other details about the Ehrlich and Lynton Awards, see The Campus Compact national conference will take place from March 29-April 1, 2020 in Seattle, Washington; for more information on the conference, “The Promise of Full Participation: Democracy, Opportunity, Voice,” visit the Compact20 website.



Campus Compact is a national coalition of 1000+ colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. Campus Compact supports institutions in fulfilling their public purposes by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility. As the largest national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, it provides professional development to administrators and faculty to enable them to engage effectively, facilitate national partnerships connecting campuses with key issues in their local communities, build pilot programs to test and refine promising models in engaged teaching and scholarship, celebrate and cultivate student civic leadership, and convene higher education institutions and partners beyond higher education to share knowledge and develop collective capacity. For more information, visit


In 1986, Brown University President Howard Swearer founded one of the first public service centers in the nation, now named for him — the Swearer Center for Public Service. The Swearer Center is a hub of community, scholarship, and action at Brown University. Through innovative programs and fellowships that reach across Rhode Island and around the globe, the Swearer Center connects people to co-create knowledge and positive social change, advances the field of engaged scholarship, and integrates social innovation with community engagement. For more information, visit


The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) is the longest-running and largest organization committed to serving and connecting the world’s urban and metropolitan universities and their partners. CUMU focuses on strengthening institutions that are developing new responses to the pressing educational, economic, and social issues of the day. For more information, visit