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WAA to honor five for achievements in science, public service

April 17, 2002

It’s hard to find a television news program that doesn’t consult Lawrence Eagleburger for expert analysis. From Face the Nation to Washington Week, TV reporters look to the Milwaukee native for the candid and thoughtful commentary that has won him bipartisan respect.

Formerly U.S. Secretary of State and now the head of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, Eagleburger will receive the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, in a reception on Friday, May 10, at 5:45 p.m. in the Wisconsin Union Theater in Memorial Union.

Other honorees include former publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal Jim Burgess, geologist Ken Ciriacks and California public servant Joy Picus. WAA will give its first-ever Distinguished Young Alumni Award to engineer Winslow Sargeant, program manager with the National Science Foundation.

“We’re tremendously honored to be able to give recognition to such an accomplished collection of alumni,” says Paula Bonner, WAA’s executive director. “These people not only stand at the top of their respective professions, but they continue to offer their expertise to assist UW–Madison.”

Photo of Lawrence Eagleburger Lawrence Eagleburger

Few people have the opportunity to shape the world in the way that Lawrence Eagleburger ’52, M.S. ’57 has. As a foreign service officer, he held an important role in implementing U.S. policy during the Cold War, and as deputy secretary of state and secretary of state, he developed the plans that guided the nation’s foreign policy through the 1990s.

After receiving a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in political science, Eagleburger entered the foreign service, where he spent the next 27 years. His overseas assignments included posts in Honduras and Yugoslavia, and through the 1960s, he became an expert on security.

During the Nixon and Ford presidencies, Eagleburger held a variety of appointments in the departments of defense and state, and in 1977, he was named ambassador to Yugoslavia.

Eagleburger returned to Washington in 1981, and he retired in 1984. He returned to government service in 1989, when the elder President Bush made him deputy secretary of state. In December 1992, he became the first foreign service officer ever appointed secretary of state. Since his second retirement in 1993, Eagleburger has often been involved in activities at UW–Madison. He was a 1994 commencement speaker, and returned that fall to discuss foreign policy issues with UW–Madison students. “His visit reinvigorated international studies and led to the creation of the International Institute,” says Michael Hinden, associate dean of UW–Madison’s department of international studies.

Eagleburger has served on the College of Letters and Science Board of Visitors and on UW Foundation committees, and he has acted as an informal “ambassador” for the university. In 1997, UW–Madison granted him an honorary doctorate, and in 2001, the International Institute created the Eagleburger Forum, an annual conference on global issues.

Photo of James Burgess James Burgess
James Burgess ’58 is best known as the former publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal, Madison’s most-read newspaper. But his 10 years at the State Journal’s helm were just one part of a lifetime of service to Wisconsin, journalism and UW–Madison.

Burgess grew up in a newspaper family in La Crosse, where his father spent 30 years as the publisher of the Tribune. It was only natural that Burgess would major in journalism at UW–Madison, where he received several honors, including the Scott Goodnight outstanding student award and induction into the Iron Cross Society. Burgess also exercised his leadership skills as business manager at the Daily Cardinal.

After graduation, Burgess spent three years in the U.S. Air Force before returning to Madison as a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. He soon moved into management positions with Lee Enterprises, a media chain. He rose to the position of executive vice president of Lee Enterprises, but in 1984, Burgess returned to Madison to become the publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal, a position he held until his retirement in 1994.

Burgess spent nine years on the board of directors for the Associated Press, helping to set policy for the newspaper wire service. He currently serves on the boards of visitors for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and for the College of Letters and Science, and is a member of the Bascom Hill Society.

“With his extensive experience in the industry and his commitment to the UW, Jim was an invaluable member of the School of Journalism board,” says Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, associate dean for social sciences. “His sharp intellect and his analytical abilities helped [the school] develop an innovative and exciting new curriculum and direction for the future.”

Burgess has supported a variety of municipal and statewide causes, including the SAVE Commission on Governmental Reform, Edgewood College, the Madison Community Foundation, the Governor’s Task Force on Gambling and the State Privacy Council.

Photo of Ken Ciriacks Ken Ciriacks
During his time at UW–Madison, geologist and former petroleum industry executive Ken Ciriacks ’58 learned about more than identifying rocks and minerals. He also learned the value of having a widely varied cultural experience, and that lesson served him well during the years he spent traveling around the world on behalf of Amoco. In return, Ciriacks has devoted much of his time to aiding the university.

A native of West Bend, Ciriacks rounded out his UW bachelor’s in geology with a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1962. He then joined the research and exploration staff at Amoco, where, by 1994, he had risen to the position of vice president for corporate technology. “The enjoyment of the overseas opportunities was much facilitated by my early experiences at UW–Madison,” he says.

Throughout his career, Ciriacks often returned to UW–Madison on recruiting visits, initially to attract the geology department’s outstanding graduate students. Later, as head of Amoco’s corporate recruiting team, he recruited in areas such as engineering and chemistry. In 1991, Ciriacks became a charter member of the geology department’s alumni board (now called the board of visitors), which he co-chaired in 1997.

“There is no question that Ken has been the single most energetic and influential long-term member of the board [of visitors],” says geology department chair Mary Anderson.

Among the activities Ciriacks has led on the geology department’s behalf is a fund-raising effort that will bring in around a fifth of the money necessary for the $5 million addition to Weeks Hall, the department’s home on campus. His personal contributions to UW–Madison include the endowment of a Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship, and he has funded additions to the UW Geology Museum. His donations helped make possible the excavation and reconstruction of the museum’s 33-foot-long Edmontosaurus dinosaur skeleton.

In 1999, he received the geology department’s distinguished alumni award. He is a member of the Bascom Hill Society and the board of directors for WAA, and he is active in several societies, including the Geological Society of America and the American Geological Institute.

Photo of Joy Picus Joy Picus
Four-term Los Angeles city councilwoman Joy Picus ’51 left her mark on California politics through her vigorous advocacy on behalf of family issues, education and social justice. But this May’s Distinguished Alumni Award won’t be the first honor Picus has received from WAA. In 1950, the alumni association named her the UW’s outstanding junior woman student.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in political science, Picus returned to her native Chicago, where she married physicist Gerald Picus. For 20 years, she worked as a homemaker and community builder, raising the couple’s three children as the family moved from Chicago to Washington, D.C., to the Los Angeles area. “I was the typical 1950s woman,” says Picus. “I had a child every other year and I stayed home with my children.”

Picus remained involved in politics, however, working with the League of Women Voters as the Los Angeles local action chair through the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1977, she ran for and won a seat on the Los Angeles City Council.

During the next 16 years, Picus earned a reputation for effectiveness. Her efforts on behalf of working families prompted Los Angeles to name the Joy Picus Child Care Center in her honor in 1996. Ms. Magazine named her a Woman of the Year in 1985, and the YWCA gave her its Athena Award in 1994.

Since leaving elective office in 1993, Picus has continued her career of public service. She worked with WAA on its volunteerism task force, where her insight has helped improve the ways in which the association organizes its alumni volunteers, and she aided WAA as a founding member of its Cabinet 99 women’s forum. Picus has also been active with the boards of visitors for UW–Madison’s Center for Jewish Studies and the La Follette School of Public Affairs. She has served on the UW Foundation board, is active in its Women in Philanthropy Council, and is a member of the Bascom Hill Society.

Photo of Winslow Sargeant Winslow Sargeant
Ever since coming to UW–Madison, engineer Winslow Sargeant Ph.D.’95 has been on the fast track to success. Even while he was finishing his doctorate, he was developing the entrepreneurial and technological skills that would help him launch a successful business, and now, as a program manager with the National Science Foundation, he uses what he learned to help other people get started.

His department, the Program for Small Business Innovations Research, awards funding to start-up companies in the fields of electronics and information science. Sargeant is also an adjunct professor in electrical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

Sargeant earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Northeastern University in Boston and a master’s from Iowa State University in Ames. He came to UW–Madison in 1988 and studied circuit design, solid-state materials and signal processing. While completing his doctoral thesis, he went to work for IBM in 1992. There he developed an innovative optical receiver, a device used in fiber optics.

Shortly after completing his doctorate, Sargeant left IBM and joined the technical staff of Lucent Technologies. In 1997, inspired by the successes of Silicon Valley start-ups, he and several colleagues formed AANetCom, an integrated circuit design company, in Allentown, Penn. AANetCom developed a microchip that would greatly improve the efficiency of computer networking equipment. By March 2000, when Sargeant and his partners sold the company to telecommunications giant PMC-Sierra, AANetCom was worth $1.2 billion. Sargeant continued to work with PMC-Sierra until April 2001.