The 2020 Academic Awards ceremony original slated for May was postponed due to COVID-19. The School of Social Work elected to hold its annual awards ceremony virtually on Aug. 12. Congratulations to all of our awards recipients. Your contributions to the School of Social Work, the field of social work, and society as a whole are greatly appreciated.

Buford Peace Award
Dr. Stephen Katsinas

Dr. Stephen Katsinas has more than 35 years of higher education teaching and leadership experience and has dedicated much of his research and service toward increasing access to higher education by ensuring equity in both policy and funding.

Since 2005, Katsinas has served as director of the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama, which, under Katsinas’ leadership, has been awarded more than $6 million of external grants and contracts for research and analyses of education issues throughout the country. The EPC’s reports have focused on community college transfer students, affordability of higher education for students (particularly the impact of Pell grants), quality of life and educational outcomes for students and families of Alabama’s Black Belt region, higher education policy, and community college funding, organization, and governance

As workforce dynamics have changed, Katsinas has focused his research on community colleges, which are a vital pipeline to the manufacturing and trade sectors and typically service rural areas in the Deep South.

In that vein, Katsinas continues to support bi-partisan efforts to fund “College Promise” programs to support five key student populations – DREAMers, traditional-aged students, adult students, student veterans, and formerly incarcerated students – to help stem the student debt crisis and expand labor market participation.

He routinely speaks to policymakers on Capitol Hill about the importance of funding community colleges and improving access, specifically through Pell Grant funding, which has been subject to significant cuts and changes to eligibility requirements over the years. Katsinas has led numerous studies on how Pell restrictions will impact the Deep South economy, often partnering with colleagues in Mississippi and Arkansas for regional analysis. Through this research and advocacy, Katsinas found a strong ally on Capitol Hill in the late Thad Cochran, former senator from Mississippi who supported the EPC’s research and advocacy.

Katsinas has also been a strong proponent of funding Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which are facing significant financial hardships. Nearly all HBCUs receive Title III funding, though a small percentage of HBCUs take advantage of TRIO programs, which feature outreach and student services aimed at low-income and first-generation students and have seen budget increases in recent years. Katsinas is keen to improve access to HBCUs and student support through TRIO funding and has presented these opportunities and funding projections to HBCU leaders.

The School of Social Work thanks Dr. Katsinas for his tireless efforts in research and advocacy for  vulnerable student populations. Dr. Katsinas embodies the helping spirit of Lahoma Adams Buford and is the 2020 recipient of the Buford Peace Award.

2020 Academic Awards

2020 Awards Ceremony Program


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