It Takes a Village: Amanda Wright Named Director of Public Service and Outreach at UWG
Thursday, July 8th, 2021
When the University of West Georgia’s Office of Community Engagement was created in 2015, Amanda Wright was present to help shape its mission and vision as program coordinator.
Today, the office is known as Public Service and Outreach, and Wright has grown alongside it, recently being named its director. In this role she will continue to cultivate and support UWG's campus, community and business relationships.
“Over the past six years, community engagement has become a higher priority on campuses across the country as they realize how important community is to the retention of students,” she explained. “Our connections with our community have continued to improve to truly be mutually beneficial for the campus and our partners. We have many meaningful opportunities across campus for our students to get involved and to expand their networks prior to graduation.”
In addition to being a loyal employee, Wright is also a UWG alumna. A 2011 graduate, she received her Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration, also from UWG.
“As a student, UWG was home,” Wright shared. “I am from Carrollton, so I could commute to school and keep my part-time job as a math tutor for the UWise (University of West Georgia Institutional STEM Excellence) program. I even volunteered for the program after I graduated, and I felt welcomed from the beginning. I have taken that experience with me through my journey at UWG. We want to make sure all of our students have these extraordinary experiential opportunities that set them up for successful careers – as they did for me.”
It was that support system that inspired her to return to UWG to work in the then- College of Science and Mathematics dean's office in 2013, this time as program coordinator for UWise. In this role, Wright was in charge of recruiting prospective freshmen who were interested in majoring in a STEM field and getting them enrolled into college a semester early – during the summer – with a cohort of their peers as well as managing other aspects of the grant.
In 2015, Wright helped lay the groundwork for a new department dedicated to strengthening partnerships between the university and the region, but she also continued to work on her own professional development.
Upon graduating with a master's in higher education administration from Georgia Southern University in 2017, Wright was promoted to assistant director of the Office of Community Engagement. In 2019, she received her economic development certificate from the Georgia Academy for Economic Development and later became a licensed consultant with the National Standards for Excellence. And for the past year, she has also served as the special assistant to UWG President Dr. Brendan B. Kelly’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Russell Crutchfield, and has provided significant support to the president’s office.
“Amanda has excelled at UWG for the past eight years, working to help build the institution’s community engagement efforts and the public service and outreach enterprise,” Crutchfield said. “She has the drive and expertise to take our efforts in the Office of Public Service and Outreach to the next level, and we are extremely grateful to have her serve in this role.”
In her role with the office, Wright built the West Georgia Nonprofit Network (WGNPN) with more than 100 local nonprofit member organizations and is currently planning a Nonprofit Leadership Institute certificate program in partnership with the UWG Office of Continuing Education. She also has consulted with several nonprofit leaders from WGNPN, assisting them with the application process for national Standards for Excellence recognition.
“Amanda’s leadership in the development and growth of the West Georgia Nonprofit Network is a testament to her remarkable service at UWG,” Crutchfield added.
“The West Georgia Nonprofit network provides developmental opportunities and resource-sharing for local nonprofit leaders and, in turn, strengthens UWG’s relationships with these partners, which creates many opportunities for our students,” Wright stated.
Wright was also part of the team that guided UWG through the 2020 application for the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. Named by the Carnegie Foundation, this classification recognizes significant achievement for institutional commitment to community engagement through teaching, research and public service.
“The Carnegie Classification designation is a significant achievement for UWG because it allowed us to not only tell the story of how community engagement is woven throughout our campus, but it also continues to show our commitment to our community partners and the unique experiences these partnerships create for our students,” Wright explained.
Wright will play a critical role in supporting the university's new strategic plan and its priorities of relevance, competitiveness and placemaking, especially in the area of placemaking. The plan’s commitment statement is to curate a first-choice university for all UWG stakeholders.
“Public Service and Outreach works to strengthen the sense of belonging by cultivating the university's relationships with campus faculty, staff and students, and with alumni, community and business partners,” Wright concluded. “We seek to create an atmosphere where students immediately feel a ‘sense of place’ and belonging through the unique opportunities they are provided – somewhere they want to stay and engage with their peers.”