Ball State University journalism professor Dr. Adam Kuban is the 2021 Brian Douglas Hiltunen Faculty Award winner, awarded by Indiana Campus Compact, for his outstanding contribution to the scholarship of engagement.
Kuban, an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and the inaugural Ball Brothers Foundation Honors College Faculty Fellow, is the first Ball State faculty member to win the Brian Douglas Hiltunen Faculty Award since Judith Gray, associate professor of social work, in 2009.
“I am incredibly grateful and humbled to receive this award,” Kuban said. “I want to thank Indiana Campus Compact for this incredible honor. Indiana Campus Compact has been supportive of the projects that I’ve led and the work that I’ve done for years now. I’m also very grateful to the numerous community partners with whom I've worked over the years — some longer than others, but all of them very important.”
Since 2014, Kuban has worked with 42 students and six community partners to prepare and deliver accepted presentations at 30 academic conferences and juried film festivals, leading to prestigious recognition.
In Kuban’s Water Quality Indiana program, two of his students received regional Emmy nominations for their work on Downstream: Connecting Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, a documentary about water quality. Another two undergraduate students have been published in In The Trenches, a pedagogical periodical from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.
Wade Garrard, co-founder and CEO of First Point Volleyball Foundation, a national group focused on growing the number of opportunities for boys and men to play volleyball in the U.S., considers Kuban “one of the most innovative, thoughtful, and engaging educators at Ball State University, and an outstanding teacher and scholar in immersive learning,” according to Indiana Campus Contact. Kuban led a team of undergraduate students in the development of an award-winning original documentary titled Match Point: The Rise of Boys’ And Men’s Volleyball.
“Dr. Kuban has pursued numerous project-based teaching opportunities that immerse his students and him in real-time challenges, typically alongside community partners such as nonprofit organizations,” Dr. Johnny Sparks, chair of the Ball State Department of Journalism, told Indiana Campus Compact in his nomination letter. “From these opportunities emerge both traditional research and creative scholarship, which often create unique experiences and accolades for our students.”
The Brian Douglas Hiltunen Faculty Award for the Outstanding Contribution to the Scholarship of Engagement was established in 2000 to honor Hiltunen, who served Indiana Campus Compact for four years as a project director and helped to design many of its faculty development programs prior to his death in 1999.
According to Indiana Campus Compact, “this award continues Brian’s legacy as it lifts up and honors mid- to late-career faculty at Indiana Campus Compact partner institutions who exemplify what it means to be an engaged scholar.”
Accordingly, Kuban said he’s “very appreciative for the students with whom I’ve worked over the years, some in multiple iterations of the projects that I’ve led.”
“They have given a lot of time, a lot of energy and effort, into these projects that have many, many aspects in motion at any given time,” Kuban said of his students. “I know that it’s complicated and it’s challenging for them, but I do think that they are better people because of it, and I think that no matter where they land upon graduation they’ll be part of a community. And I think because of the projects that I’ve led, supported by Indiana Campus Compact and Ball State, these students will be better equipped to effect change in those communities. And I think that’s what all of us are wanting to achieve.”
Ball State had several other Indiana Campus Contact award winners this year. Shantanu Suman, an assistant professor of art, and Dr. Sarah Vitale, an assistant professor of philosophy, were named 2021 Emerging Leaders in Community Engagement. Minnetrista and its president and CEO, Betty Brewer, was selected as an Outstanding Community Partner of the Year.
Dr. Carla Earhart, professor of residential property management in the Department of Applied Business Studies at Ball State, was also selected as the runner-up for this year’s Brian Douglas Hiltunen Award.