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The Engagement Ring 

What is public engagement? And why does it matter, anyway? 

Brown Bag Lunch panelists, left to right, Matthew Bellis of Siena College, Debernee Privott of the University in the High School Program, and Darrell Wheeler, dean of the School of Social Welfare. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 8, 2018) – Ever wonder what we really mean when we talk about public engagement?

“The Engagement Ring,” a new Brown Bag Lunch discussion series being organized by the Office for Public Engagement, will provide answers when it convenes its first program on Friday at noon in the Campus Center Boardroom.

“The goal is to create opportunities for dialogue among faculty, students, administrators and staff from all three campuses,” said Alfredo Medina Jr., executive director of the Office for Public Engagement. “We’ve had a number of individuals share that they’re not exactly sure what ‘public engagement’ means. We’d like to help people gain a better understanding of what engagement involves and come to see the positive impact UAlbany is having on our communities through research, teaching and service.

“'The Engagement Ring' helps us to do that in a casual, relaxed environment where everyone can feel comfortable sharing experiences, perspectives, ideas and questions. Just bring your lunch. We’ll provide coffee, dessert and great speakers.”

Panelists for the Feb. 9 Brown Bag Lunch include Darrell P. Wheeler, dean of the School of Social Welfare and vice provost for public engagement; Debernee Privott, assistant dean for public engagement and director of the University in the High School Program for the College of Arts and Sciences; and Matthew Bellis, assistant professor of physics at Siena College. A panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A.

Additional brown bag lunches are being planned for this spring on the downtown campus and the Health Sciences Campus in Rensselaer. The Office for Public Engagement welcomes program ideas from the entire UAlbany community.

“The office is very interested in collaborating with campus partners from all disciplines who offer - or may be planning — workshops or discussions that highlight their unit’s scholarship, teaching, experiential learning, creative work, public service and outreach,” said Medina. “We’re here to support and facilitate those important efforts and to make sure the message, mission and spirit of public engagement are carried throughout the University.”

“The Engagement Ring” is open to all faculty, students, staff, alumni and their guests.

Registration is not required, but is appreciated. For more information or to register for the Brown Bag Lunch, contact Mary Hunt, manager of programs, at (518) 442-3470 or

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