Features — 15 May 2014
Outreach sets the stage for regional growth

With special guests ranging from the newly crowned Miss MSU Summer Davis to middle school-aged Shakespearean actors, the Murray State University office of regional outreach’s annual project showcase on April 22 celebrated the impact of outreach in western Kentucky in high style at historic Lovett Auditorium. A sit-down luncheon on the stage itself — complete with elegant linens from dining services and classical guitar music provided by MSU music major Jared Jeseo — were just some of the accents to make the project showcase an enjoyable event.

Projects funded by regional outreach this past year have taken center stage in impacting education in western Kentucky. Each year, the Regional Outreach Advisory Council selects worthy projects to receive funding. Regional outreach supported 10 projects and a handful of selected sponsorships during the 2013-14 academic year.

The four main goals of regional outreach and its council are educational attainment, quality of life, job creation and collaborative partnerships. All of these were present in the projects funded. They included Math Out of a Bag, Family Science Night, Junior Achievement, Next Big Thing Innovation Competition, Health in a Box and more.
After a reception in the Lovett foyer where project leaders showcased their work via PowerPoint presentations, posters and even robots, Dr. Tim Miller, MSU president, welcomed the group of about 80 to the stage. Kevin O’Neill, Regional Outreach Advisory Council vice-chair and WKCTC coordinator for continuing education, served as emcee for the luncheon. Gina Winchester, regional outreach executive director, also spoke, giving a special nod to the Fun with Languages program for garnering interest in regional schools this year with help from a small sponsorship from the office.
Past grantees Dr. Barbara Cobb and Dr. William “Rusty” Jones of the department of English and philosophy were invited to speak about their work with the Shakespeare in the Schools Partnership Initiative and the Murray Shakespeare Festival. They brought along four special guests from Murray Middle School — three 7th-grade students and their language arts teacher, Sheri Muehleman — who demonstrated the impact of their project. The students entertained the audience with a rousing performance from Shakespeare’s coming-of-age classic, Henry IV Part I.
The banquet ended with the presentation of a special gift of thanks to Miller for his guidance and support.
The projects displayed at the event represented a large population of students and community members Murray State serves through the office of regional outreach. Winchester shared that over the past five years nearly 70 projects have funded over 475 programs, collectively impacting nearly 200,000 individuals in the region. As a result, more than 200 strategic partnerships were formed with approximately $3 million leveraged to support educational attainment.
Information on applying for 2014-15 funding will soon be available at www.murraystate.edu/outreach.

Photo caption: The Murray State University office of regional outreach hosted its annual project showcase on campus in Lovett Auditorium on April 22 to celebrate the impact of outreach in western Kentucky during the 2013-14 academic year. Project leaders showcased their work at the event and the audience was entertained by 7th-graders demonstrating what they learned through the Shakespeare in the Schools initiative with a performance from Henry IV Part I.
— MSU photo provided

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