MISSOULA – Five outstanding University of Montana alumni will receive 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards on Friday, Oct. 5, during Homecoming. The awards are the highest honor presented by the UM Alumni Association.
This year’s distinguished alumni are Paul Lewing ’69, M.F.A. ’72, of Shoreline, Washington; William Marcus ’74, of Missoula; Sara Peck ’66, of Lakeside; Sheila Skemp ’67 of Oxford, Mississippi; and Evelyn Adedoja Yeye Dada, M.P.A. ’83, of Abuja, Nigeria.
Lewing, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art from UM, followed his childhood dream to live as a professional artist in Seattle. Since 1972, he has worked in pottery and ceramic tile, and he has created more than 1,000 custom projects for clients all over the world, including dignitaries in Sweden and Japan. Lewing has written two books on the ancient technique of china painting, and he has painted numerous murals. His collections are in institutions from the Seattle Art Museum to the Igneri Talleres Foundation in the Dominican Republic, and some of his works include large tile murals for churches and colorful shower wall tiles with paintings of landscapes. He also has taught art and ceramics to thousands of students, presenting seminars in every U.S. state.
Marcus, who earned his degree in radio/television, came to UM from the small rural community of Wibaux, Montana, and devoted the next four decades to capturing the stories of his home state. He helped develop MontanaPBS before public television existed in Montana, bridging the divide between UM and Montana State University. As director of Montana Public Radio/MontanaPBS and UM’s Broadcast Media Center, he also has brought student work on air. Marcus is well-known for his “Backroads of Montana” series on MontanaPBS, and his documentaries have earned him four regional Emmy awards. In 2010, “Night of the Grizzlies” had the most viewers of any Montana public television program. Marcus retired in 2015 but serves as an active volunteer with MontanaPBS, Montana Public Radio and the Montana Arts Council.
Interested in marine life from an early age, Peck, who earned a degree in education from UM, has integrated education and ecology throughout her life’s work. She became passionate about coral reef ecosystems while working at the Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii, and she began Ed-U-Dive Inc. in Montana to bring marine life study tours to aquariums and museums. She established a charter school focused on science and technology at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii. An education specialist for the University of Hawaii and a Hawai’i Sea Grant Extension Agent, Peck has published many articles on marine science and established programs and educational resources to help protect the reefs surrounding Hawaii. The State of Hawaii and several foundations have recognized her, including the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
History scholar Skemp, who earned her undergraduate history degree at UM, has become a groundbreaker in her field. Skemp has taught history for more than 40 years at four different colleges and universities. She won outstanding teaching awards in 1985, 1990 and 2009 and has been lauded as a community-builder and mentor by colleagues at Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan, Fordham and more. Skemp’s work focuses on the Colonial and Revolutionary periods in American history, especially on the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin. Among the six books she has written, two – “Benjamin and William Franklin: Patriot and Loyalist, Father and Son” and “William Franklin: Son of a Patriot, Servant of a King” – focus on this little-known piece of history. Skemp is the Marquette Chair in American History at the University of Mississippi.
Yeye Dada already was a world-changer when she came to UM as an international student and earned her master’s degree in public administration. She began her career in 1973 with the New Nigerian Development Company, becoming a leader in economic development. She worked for a short time with the U.S. Peace Corps and the British Council and then for more than 20 years with the United Nations in several countries throughout Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Yeye Dada’s biography includes many significant accomplishments with the UN Children’s Fund and the Food and Agriculture Organization. She continues to serve with the UN after her retirement, and in 2016, she received a merit award from the king of her hometown of Egbe, Nigeria, for her contributions to the town’s development.
The public is invited to the awards ceremony and reception at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, in the University Center Ballroom at UM.