Of the many things we love to do here at the Wisconsin Alumni Association® (WAA), one that tops our list is connecting Badger grads with our wonderful UW faculty members. Whether it’s at Founders’ Day talks across the country or Wednesday Nite @ the Lab events right here in Madison, we rely on the best minds on campus to help us share the knowledge and innovation that happens every day on campus.
To acknowledge some of the faculty who have helped us to further our mission of engaging with our alumni and lifelong learners, WAA presents the Ken and Linda Ciriacks Alumni Outreach Excellence Award. This accolade is named for and funded by two of WAA’s most active alumni: Ken Ciriacks, a former WAA board member and a 1958 graduate of the College of Letters & Science; and his wife, Linda.
The Ciriacks Award is reserved for those UW faculty members who have gone well beyond the classroom to excel in educational outreach. The recipients have demonstrated their steadfast commitment to the Wisconsin Idea by partnering with WAA for a variety of programs offered to alumni. This year, we honored two professors who are stellar examples of alumni-outreach excellence: Mike Wagner of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and John Hawks of the Department of Anthropology.
Associate professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Before Professor Wagner came to campus in 2012, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and his PhD in political science from Indiana University. At the UW, he holds positions in the J-School, the political science department, and the La Follette School of Public Affairs.
Wagner’s research and teaching center around the important question, “How well does democracy work?” In diving into this timely question, he relies on his expertise in presidential persuasion, partisan polarization in American elections, and social media and politics … to name a few.
In partnership with WAA, Wagner has shared his knowledge with alumni through many channels, including Founders’ Day events, Global Hot Spots, Badger Cafés, and Real Town Hall meetings. He has also been an On Wisconsin magazine contributing writer.
Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor, Department of Anthropology
Currently on sabbatical to continue his research in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, Professor Hawks has been teaching in UW–Madison’s anthropology department since 2002 and has been awarded numerous fellowships and chair positions. Prior to his work at the UW, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and his master’s and PhD in anthropology from the University of Michigan.
Hawks’s main focus areas include biological anthropology and paleoanthropology, specifically in the South Africa region. He is dedicated to transforming science into a more open and public enterprise. You may have heard his name during the past couple of years — he was a leader of the team that helped to discover an entirely new species of human: Homo naledi.
On campus, Hawks teaches an array of courses, from introductory to graduate level. He also helped to develop a massive open online course (MOOC) called Human Evolution: Past and Future, which first ran in January 2014.
Hawks has worked with WAA for events such as Founders’ Day, WAA and WPT at the Red Crown Lodge, and The UW Now. He also put together a group of students and faculty members to help share his knowledge on the road. It presented at several statewide outreach events and multiple Wednesday Nite @ the Lab talks.
See Professor Hawks’s acceptance speech video, all the way from a cave site in South Africa.