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Belmont University Professor, Student Earn Prestigious State-Wide Service Awards

Harold Love Award recognizes higher education ambassadors for community service

Belmont University Associate Professor of Sociology Ken Spring and first-year law student Katherine Blankenship were recently named recipients of the 2012 Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award.

The State of Tennessee Higher Education Commission gives the award annually to five faculty or staff members and five students in Tennessee higher education institutions. Individuals selected to receive recognition represent the many dimensions of community service volunteer work, public and charitable service as well as leadership roles in community organizations. Each recipient receives $1,000 and serves as an ambassador for community service among the many diverse higher educational communities in Tennessee.

The award is named after late State Rep. Harold Love who was instrumental in passing legislation that created community service recognition programs for higher education students, faculty and staff at the campus level in 1991.

Spring, who also serves as associate dean of Belmont’s College of Arts and Sciences, was nominated for his instrumental work developing educational outreach programs and homework help programs as well as his service through the Literacy Program at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. Through his work, students have shown an average 1.7 grade level increase in reading and comprehension scores and preschoolers have shown a 63 percent increase in their reading scores. He has served as an ambassador to the YMCA Programs and on the Board of Directors for the Margaret Maddox YMCA.

Spring said, “I am honored to represent Belmont and the YCMA in this way. While I am very appreciative of the recognition, I hope that it highlights the work of all involved in the educational outreach programs of the YMCA, as well as the culture of service that we have fostered at Belmont. We have created a sustainable partnership that ensures that we are not simply tourists in our community; rather, we are actively engaged participants.”

Blankenship was nominated for her high involvement with nonprofit work, namely in youth arts education for Youth Empowerment Arts and Humanities (YEAH), for which she serves as the music department director. Blankenship founded three music programs for youth ages 10-17 in Nashville and Murfreesboro and created a scholarship program for all YEAH music programs that allow each program to serve at-risk youth by awarding an unlimited number of need-based scholarships. She also has volunteered for five years at the Legal Aid Clinic in Murfreesboro, three years at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and three years with the gender studies program at Middle Tennessee State University.

“I want to thank Youth Empowerment Through Arts and Humanities (YEAH), for allowing me to serve as their Music Department Director and to spend the last five years working with some of the most talented and amazing kids I have ever met.  Every day YEAH shows me how the power of music and collaboration can enrich and change a child’s life,” said Blankenship. “I also appreciate Belmont for nominating me for this award and creating a collegiate atmosphere that fosters and values community service.”

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