Faculty News

President’s Public Engagement Awards: Zimmerman, Halderman honored for impact, leadership

(NOTE: An awards ceremony to honor the Public Engagement award winners was scheduled for March 16, but was cancelled in compliance with measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The event will be rescheduled.)

Public engagement is central to the University of Michigan’s mission to serve society, and each year U-M honors two faculty for their dedication to national and state leadership and public impact. In January, President Mark S. Schlissel announced Marc Zimmerman and J. Alex Halderman as the 2019 public engagement award winners.

Zimmerman, director of the Prevention Research Center and the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center at the School of Public Health, received the President’s Award for Public Impact, which honors individuals whose research and expertise tangibly address a major public-sector challenge.

“I’ve always been committed to doing work that makes a difference in people’s lives, whether that’s doing a longitudinal study and using that information to translate into interventions or to inform policy, or working with community partners to make a change or a difference in their lives and in our lives more generally,” Zimmerman said.

Halderman, director of the Center for Computer Security and Society in the College of Engineering, received the President’s Award for National and State Leadership, which honors individuals who provide sustained, dedicated, and influential leadership and service in major national or state capacities.

“A lot of my work is about communicating with the public about things that the public needs to know about,” Halderman said. “I don’t like science to just be journalism for entertainment, but sometimes there are things people really need to understand.”

The awards were originally instituted by Schlissel in 2017. “I want to help us disseminate our work and share our expertise in a more conspicuous and public manner,” he said at the time. “I believe greater faculty engagement outside the confines of the academy will also help the public to better understand the full value of our activities.”

Lynn Videka, dean of the School of Social Work, said that Schlissel’s interest in public engagement and impact was one of the key factors that brought her to U-M.

“Public engagement, from a university perspective, means taking knowledge and putting it to use in society for the betterment of society,” Videka said.

When the winners were announced in January, Schlissel congratulated Zimmerman and Halderman and highlighted some of the ways they have impacted communities and policy.

“Throughout their careers, Professors Halderman and Zimmerman have confronted some of our society’s most pressing challenges,” Schlissel said. “Their work has not only made a difference in tackling the problems themselves, but in finding new and relevant ways to engage the public in finding and understanding possible solutions.”