John Francis to receive Multicultural Student Center McDowell Alumni Achievement Award

May 1, 2012

John Francis, visiting associate professor of environmental studies, will receive the McDowell Alumni Achievement Award from the UW-Madison Multicultural Student Center at the Multicultural Leadership Awards and Graduation Celebration May 7.

John Francis

Now in its second year, the McDowell Alumni Achievement Award honors UW-Madison alumni who identify as persons of color, embody the Wisconsin Idea and enhance the Wisconsin Experience through gifts of time, talent and/or treasure. Honorees apply what they have learned at the university to make the world a better place. The award is named after the inaugural recipients, Candace and Charles McDowell.

Francis spent 22 years walking and 17 years in silence in response to an oil spill. More than two decades ago he received a Ph.D in land management from the Nelson Institute, which he earned in complete silence. He has authored two books about his experiences and now focuses on creating a more inclusive view and collective approach to environmental sustainability.

Kabzuag Vaj, co-founder and co-executive director of the Madison-based nonprofit organization Freedom Inc., is another 2012 honoree. Both Francis and Vaj have been recognized nationally and locally for their activism around social issues. 

The annual Multicultural Leadership Awards and Graduation Celebration is a Multicultural Student Center tradition that also recognizes student leaders, organizations, campus partners and graduates for their community and campus involvement. The event will be held from 7-9 p.m. in the On Wisconsin Room (Red Gym, First Floor).