2022 Town & Gown Award

John Hallwashallwas

A noted public scholar, Hallwas, who graduated from WIU in 1967 and 1968, joined the English faculty in 1970. He retired in 2004 after 34 years of teaching American literature, nonfictional creative writing courses and intellectual history. Additionally, he served as an archivist at the Malpass Library from 1979 until his retirement; however, he remains an active participant and contributor to Archives and Special Collections at WIU.

A nominator said, "The common link between all areas of Dr. Hallwas' contributions is the focus on the common good for all members of the WIU and Macomb communities.

"Dr. Hallwas celebrates our accomplishments through his writings by reminding us and informing those outside our community of the historical contributions of WIU," they added. "Dr. Hallwas is an unfailing champion of power and promise of a well-rounded university education. He is a friend of the University and our community."

Through the years, Hallwas has brought historical and cultural insights to the people of Illinois and the Midwest through a wide range of publications, lectures, and workshops focused on literature, history, community life and creative nonfiction. The most widely published professor in Western's history, he is the author or editor of 30 books related to Illinois history and literature, including such titles as Spoon River Anthology: An Annotated Edition," Cultures in Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois, The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America and Dime Novel Desperadoes: The Notorious Maxwell Brothers. He has also written various plays based on Illinois history. Since the mid-1970s Dr. Hallwas has written hundreds of articles on Illinois history and literature, for journals, magazines, and newspapers. Hallwas has written articles or book chapters on more than 100 authors from our state, and over the years, he has spoken in 150 Illinois towns on a wide variety of Illinois-related historical and literary topics. Hallwas has won more than two dozen awards for his writing, speaking, and civic activities, and he continues to work as an Illinois historian, public educator, and community activist.

"Dr. Hallwas' distinguished record is beyond astounding. His contributions to his alma mater, as well as the region, the state and beyond could fill pages," said Amy Spelman, assistant vice president for Alumni Relations. "He represents all that is Western Illinois University, both literally and figuratively. His knowledge and expertise related to our institution's and region's histories are incredible, and his service and commitment to education and public service is truly the Leatherneck way."

He has served as a member of the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board, the WIU Foundation Board, the Library Leadership Board and Phi Kappa Phi. Hallwas also received the WIU Distinguished Alumni and Alumni Achievement awards for his many contributions.

The Town & Gown Award is presented to an individual who has provided exceptional service in continuing the partnership between WIU and the Macomb Community. Previous recipients of the Town & Gown Award include Jeremy Robinett (2021); Stan Clayton (2019), Joe Roselieb (2018), Duke Oursler (2017); John Nelson (2016), Tom Claudon (2015), Todd Lester (2014), Bill Howard (2013), Tom Carper (2012), Mick Wisslead (2011), Lin Stults (2010), Jerry Cremer (2009), John Maguire (2008) and Charles Gilbert (2007).