February 5, 2009
Vol. 28 No. 9

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    Athlete, coach Hawkins mentored Chicago youths throughout his career

    Larry Hawkins

    Larry Hawkins, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Special Programs/College Prep, and a champion of underserved urban students, died Friday, Jan. 30. He was 78.

    Hawkins will be best remembered as a pioneer in educational enrichment. The University recruited Hawkins, then a standout basketball coach at Carver High School, to create an educational outreach program for talented minority students who come from low-income families.

    Just last month, the University honored Hawkins with its 2009 Diversity Leadership Staff Award, as an “exemplary leader” in the University’s efforts to support diversity.

    Still others knew Hawkins as an exceptional basketball player on Chicago’s South Side and a state champion basketball coach at Carver.

    “Larry Hawkins had an extraordinary life and career as an athlete, a coach, a teacher, a mentor, a historian of African American sport and an educational innovator,” read a statement issued by the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.

    The statement goes on, “His early experience as a barn-storming basketball player and as a coach led him to a powerful vision of the role that athletic programs could play in energizing inner-city students, their parents, and their communities and in focusing their attention and efforts on education and advancement.”

    Roger Hildebrand, the Samuel K. Allison Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics and Astronomy & Astrophysics, who was at the University when Hawkins started in 1968, recalled: “In the beginning it was hand-to-mouth to support the programs every year, but Larry was determined, persistent and talented, an intelligent leader who was steady in his commitment to the work. After a few years, it became apparent that the graduates of the youth development programs, children who came from very difficult backgrounds, were really succeeding.”

    Hawkins founded many successful programs, including the Institute for Athletics and Education in 1972, an advocacy organization promoting a healthy balance between sports and education, and the Space Explorers program in 1991, a science enrichment program connecting underserved middle- and high-school students with the science and scientists of the Kavli Institute.

    In honoring Hawkins last month, Diversity Leadership Council Co-Chair Julie Peterson said, “Throughout his life, Larry Hawkins has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to opportunity for Chicago youth, particularly those from minority communities. He has helped generations of students discover their talents and go on to succeed in college and in life.”

    Michelle Terry, Director of Operations and Educational Programs, added, “Larry was living proof of the difference one person dedicated to education outreach can make in the lives of others.”

    There are many distinguished graduates of the outreach programs that Hawkins designed, including Carol Moseley Braun, who was the first African American woman to become a U.S. Senator.

    Duel Richardson, Director of Neighborhood Relations/Educational Programs in the Office of Civic Engagement, said, “Larry was a remarkable human being, and there are few who have his standing in the community. He is irreplaceable. We will miss him greatly.”

    Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 7 in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

    In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Big Buddies Youth Service, Inc., or to the University of Chicago Office of Special Programs-College Prep.

    For more information, came back to this site http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/090205/obit-hawkins.shtml or call (773) 702-8288.