The Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Michael Donley, presents the Distinguished Public Service Award to Dr. Jack Hawkins in a ceremony held at the Pentagon on Sept. 6. Dr. Hawkins is the former chair of the Air University Board of Visitors. (Photo by Michael J. Pausic)
Donley honors former AU BOV chair

Air University Public Affairs

9/14/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -  -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley presented Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr., former Air University Board of Visitors chair, current BOV member and Troy University chancellor, with the Distinguished Public Service Award Sept. 6 in the Pentagon.

"Receiving this award is a humbling experience for me as the military has played a major role in my life personally and professionally," said Hawkins in an interview with the Troy Messenger.

"Air University is a remarkable institution, and it has been rewarding to serve with the outstanding members of the Board of Visitors and the capable leadership of AU. I shall forever be a strong supporter of the world's finest Air Force."

The award recognizes his service from Jan. 1, 2004, through the end of this year, during which Hawkins served in an advisory capacity to the secretary of the Air Force and contributed immeasurably to Air Force education efforts, according to the citation.

The Secretary of the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award was established to recognize private citizens who provide distinguished public service to the Air Force which translates into substantial contributions to the accomplishment of the Air Force mission. This is the Air Force's highest public service award bestowed to private citizens by the secretary of the Air Force.

Hawkins was key to reviewing the entire spectrum of all Air University programs, which led to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools approving the accreditation of all Air University programs in 2004 and reaffirming the accreditation in 2009.

"Dr. Hawkins' contributions to the Air University mission are incredibly deep and long lasting," said Dr. Bruce Murphy, AU's vice president for academic affairs. "His service on the Board of Visitors, and particularly his time as its chairman, has been a time of academic transformation for this institution."

Accomplishments under Hawkins' leadership include regional accreditation of AU, allowing it to award degrees. He also led the board in supporting Air University efforts to create an honorary degree program, Doctorate in Military Strategy, the Air Command and Staff College online master's degree program and the Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering, awarded by the USAF Test Pilot School.

"He was instrumental in attracting new members to the board, greatly increasing its diversity and saw the addition of many university presidents, a former chief master sergeant of the Air Force, a former chief of Naval Operations and the former president of Lockheed-Martin Corporation," Murphy said.

"It is hard to think of another individual who has done so much for the Air University, Air Force education, and the development of future generations of Air Force leaders," Murphy said.

Gen. Muir S. Fairchild, the first AU commander, initiated the Board of Visitors in 1946, just 15 days after the Air University was established. The goal was to attain advice on the academic aspects of AU from senior educators and university administrators.

Over the years, the board has welcomed Thomas Watson, chairman and CEO of IBM; Henry Luce, who founded Time magazine; and presidents from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. Currently, the board has 30 members.

Board members are eligible to serve for up to eight years and must be reappointed each year by the secretary of defense. Since the Air University's commanders will serve an average of 2.4 years, the board is helpful in providing a longer-range outlook. "They can provide stability, an expert voice across a longer period of time," Murphy said.