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Last modified: Thursday, March 30, 2006

Anne E. Belcher

Thomas Ehrlich Award for Excellence in Service Learning

Associate Professor
School of Nursing
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Appointed to IU faculty, 1976
B.S.N., Indiana University, 1971
P.N.A., Indiana University, 1975
M.S.N., Indiana University, 1976
D.N.S., Indiana University, 1998

Long before service learning became ubiquitous in universities across the country, Anne Belcher was creating opportunities that allowed her nursing students to make a direct impact on the community.

"She has incorporated service learning principles in her teaching since the mid 1980s," says IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz. "Since then, her involvement and commitment has grown. Her approach to new projects is collaborative, both internally, with other schools, and externally, with individuals and community agencies."

Soon after her appointment to the School of Nursing at IUPUI, Belcher designed activities that pulled her undergraduate nursing students out of the classroom and into the field, where they could simultaneously gain real-world experience and help members of the community. Through the Marion County Health Department's (MCHD) public health nursing office, students visited homes on the west side of Indianapolis and presented health-related programs on topics including personal hygiene, safety, and nutrition at neighborhood centers.

Some of Belcher's other community projects have included a partnership with MCHD, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), and the Indiana University School of Nursing to teach breast and testicular self-examination to high school students (the program has extended beyond the original five IPS high schools to township and parochial high schools throughout Marion County); "Indiana Childhood Immunization Outreach" (1995-97), a project that created partnerships with local public health nurses to increase their knowledge base about immunizations; and "Health Promotion Learning Cooperative," a program that partners the School of Nursing and School of Physical Education with an elementary school to increase emphasis on exercise, nutrition, and fitness.

Findings from the immunization outreach program were published in Nurse Educator and Computers in Nursing, and were presented at the American Public Health Association annual meeting and Centers for Disease Control's National Immunization Conference. "The project had a transformative effect on institutional structures and the health of the community as evidenced by creating linkages between the IUSON regional campuses and the local health department nurses," says Marion Broome, dean of the School of Nursing.

Most recently, Belcher participated in a service learning opportunity using "health report cards" to assess the level of health and fitness in a community, in response designing appropriate health education programming.

Her work with students is as impressive as the innovative programs she has created. Each semester, Belcher's post-course student evaluations are overwhelmingly positive. Her students frequently call her a "great clinical instructor" and cite her friendly, helpful attitude, high expectations, and genuine interest in her students' progress.

"Dr. Belcher's career has demonstrated innovation in teaching and providing new solutions to public health problems," says Broome. "This sustained level of excellence is unsurpassed in most universities."

Belcher's honors and awards include the Special Recognition Award from the Indiana State Nurses Association in 1981, the "Friends of the Child Service Award" in 1983, Excellence in Teaching Award in 1991, Mary Eleanor Berkimeier Award in 1992, the Ruth Scott Deter Award in 1993 and 1994, the IUPUI TERA Award in 1999 and 2000, Favorite Professor Award in 2002, Distinguished Service Award in 2004, and the Tony and Mary Hulman Health Achievement Award in 2005. She was named a fellow at the Institute of Action Research for Community Health in 1996.

"Her leadership and personal involvement in the community have opened the door for other faculty and students to build parallel and coordinated projects in the nearby westside neighborhoods, as well as other sections of the city, because people know and trust Anne," says William M. Plater, executive vice chancellor of IUPUI. "Everyone who has worked with Anne Belcher believes that they can make a difference through their individual efforts."