Randolph-Macon College President Robert Lindgren presented the Society of Alumni’s
Distinguished Alumnus Award to Robert T. Hawkes, Jr. `64 on Wednesday, January 2,
2008 in Fairfax, Virginia.
Courtesy George Mason University
R-MC President Robert Lindgren (right) presents Robert Hawkes with Distinguished
"I am honored by this recognition,” said Hawkes. “My beloved alma mater, Randolph-Macon
College, gave me a sound perspective with which to understand the world. More importantly,
the caring faculty there guided me toward a sense of how my talents could be used
to improve that world, as an individual and as a part of society.”
Hawkes joined the faculty at George Mason University during its early stages in
1969. At that time, the university had six buildings and 1,200 students, today it’s
grown to five campuses and more than 30,000 students.
During his 37 years at GMU, Hawkes was an assistant professor of history, specializing
in U.S. Southern History. He also served as director of the continuing education
center and was eventually promoted to dean of the division of continuing education.
His work influenced so many students to achieve success that in 1989 a scholarship
fund was established in his name at GMU for adult, part-time students.
He took a break from teaching during the 1990-91 academic year to work as a resident
scholar at Gunston Hall Plantation, home of George Mason. This time was spent helping
to coordinate the bicentennial celebration of the signing of the Bill of Rights.
When he returned to teaching at GMU in the fall of 1991, he was named the Mason
Hawkes’ profound commitment to his students over the years -- something for which
he credits the example of his own student experience at R-MC -- was recognized in
1997, when he was named “Teacher of the Year” at GMU. He retired, with much celebration
from former students, in 2006.
“We are proud to recognize this important alumnus,” said President Lindgren. “His
significant role in helping to build George Mason University into the impressive
institution it is today, as well as his distinguished service to higher education
in general, have brought great honor to his beloved alma mater, Randolph-Macon College.”
Hawkes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from R-MC and was awarded the
National PDE medal at graduation. He was a very active student and was elected to
Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Gamma Mu, and Pi Delta Epsilon. He was also
involved with the pre-ministerial program Clericus and served as editor of the weekly
Yellow Jacket student newspaper.
He earned a master’s and Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia, and was
hired as the university’s coordinator of history and assistant to the dean. His
early research was on Governor Harry F. Byrd and in 1974 he wrote an article entitled,
“The Emergence of a Leader – Harry Flood Byrd, Governor of Virginia, 1926-1930,”
which appeared in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.
As an alumnus of R-MC, Hawkes was a member of the Society of Alumni Board and volunteered
during the $7.17 million "Challenge Campaign” in 1977 and again, during the $15
million “Heritage Campaign” in 1984. He has frequently served as class agent with
the responsibility of engaging fellow classmates in campus activities and encouraging
them to support the R-MC annual fund.
“The nurturing environment of Randolph-Macon College is where I discovered myself
and my place for service to humanity, “ said Hawkes. “Thank you, Randolph-Macon
College for placing me on the path to what has been a rewarding, purposeful, and
(Sadly, Mr. Hawkes passed away shortly after receiving this most deserving award).