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History professor to receive WAA Outreach Excellence Award

May 16, 2007

The Wisconsin Alumni Association will honor University of Wisconsin-Madison history professor and department chair David McDonald with the Ken and Linda Ciriacks Faculty Outreach Excellence Award on Thursday, May 10. The Ken and Linda Ciriacks Alumni Outreach Excellence Award recognizes UW-Madison faculty members who go above and beyond their job roles to support the Wisconsin Idea and the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) by delivering a variety of enrichment or outreach programs to a primarily alumni audience.

In 2005, McDonald was named the first Alice D. Mortenson-Petrovich Chair in Russian History. He’s been a faculty member since 1988, and his research and teaching interests focus on imperial Russian history. In addition, McDonald was chair of the UW Athletics board, and he was appointed special assistant to the chancellor for athletics in 2001.

A frequent fixture at WAA events, McDonald has spoken to alumni audiences at Founders’ Day celebrations across the country. He has been involved with WAA’s Day on Campus program, and he provided insights to WAA travelers as a tour host to Russia. Recently, McDonald played an essential role in the launch of a new online alumni lifelong learning course on Russian civilization. The Wisconsin Alumni Lifelong Learning program is a partnership between WAA and the UW’s Division of Continuing Studies.

“We’re proud to officially recognize David McDonald for his incredible outreach work,” says WAA President and CEO Paula Bonner. “He is an outstanding university citizen, and he truly embodies the Wisconsin Idea.”

The $2,500 award is named for Ken Ciriacks, one of the most active alumni in the history of WAA, and his wife, Linda. A geologist and former petroleum industry executive, Ken Ciriacks was a charter member of the geology department’s board of visitors and is a member of the Bascom Hill Society. His generosity helped make possible the excavation and reconstruction of the Geology Museum’s 33-foot-long Edmontosaurus dinosaur skeleton.

WAA will present the award to McDonald at the 2007 Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner on Thursday, May 10, in the Memorial Union’s Great Hall.

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