Indiana State University Newsroom

Hamm, Howard-Hamilton receive President’s Medal

April 15, 2015

Indiana State University honored eight educators during its annual Faculty Recognition Banquet Wednesday.

President Dan Bradley presented the President's Medal -- the university's highest award for faculty -- to Mark Hamm, professor of criminology, and Mary Howard-Hamilton, Bayh College of Education professor of educational leadership.

Hamm, a 1971 graduate of Indiana University and faculty member marking his 30th year at Indiana State, is a leading terrorism expert and one of the few criminology researchers who actually meets with his subjects.

"You would be surprised at how many criminologists have never met an actual criminal. This is especially true for terrorism. An estimated 24,000 academic works on terrorism have been published since the 9/11 attacks on America, but only 1 percent of them have included direct contact with terrorists," Hamm said. "I'm pleased to say that my research is part of the 1 percent and grateful that ISU recognizes the principle that criminologists should never lose touch with the persons, faces, stories and lives we come across in the pursuit of theory."

While Hamm's terrorism research is top-of-mind for the media, governments and many citizens worldwide, it's his work with Cuban prison rioters in the late 1980s that is most memorable for Hamm.

In 1987, 3,000 Mariel Cuban detainees protested an international treaty by seizing control of federal prisons in Oakdale, La., and Atlanta. It would become the longest and most destructive prison riot in U.S. history.

"After the smoke cleared, several hundred of the detainees were transferred to the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute," Hamm said. "Assisted by civil rights attorneys, I trained and led a group of criminology students in representing the Cubans in parole board hearings before the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service."

Hamm and his students discovered most of the detainees had committed minor crimes or were wrongfully imprisoned by INS.

"As a result of the hearings, roughly 100 detainees were released from prison and joined their families in Miami," he said.

Hamm went on to publish "The Abandoned Ones: The Imprisonment and Uprising of the Mariel Boat People" in 1995.

"The experience had everything a humanist scholar could hope for: a compelling story, a teachable moment about human rights, extraordinary sacrifices, and in the end, the good guys won," he said. "The Cubans may have been abandoned by power elites in Havana and Washington, but they were redeemed by criminology students of ISU. I am proud of what we accomplished together."

After graduating with an education degree from Indiana University, Hamm worked as a teacher and administrator at juvenile and adult corrections facilities. In 1979, Hamm earned a Master of Education from the University of Arizona. In 1985, he earned a Ph.D. in public administration from Arizona State University and joined Indiana State's criminology department.

In 2009, he became a faculty member of the U.S. Department of Justice's National Security Training for Anti-Terrorism Prosecutors and Joint Terrorism Task Force agents. That same year, John Jay College selected him as a senior research fellow at their Center on Terrorism. In 2011, Hamm became a U.S. representative to the United Nations Crime and Justice Institute. He remains active in these roles.

Having served Indiana State and its students for a decade, Mary Howard-Hamilton has "dedicated countless hours to challenging and supporting students as a faculty member, dissertation advisor and academic advisor, guiding them to become excellent scholars and practitioners who use evidence-based practice in leadership for colleges and universities," said President Bradley.

Howard-Hamilton has served the university through involvement in key search committees, including the provost, president, chief diversity officer and deans; serving on major initiative committees, including Unbounded Possibilities, the University Speakers Committee, the Task Force on the Freshman Year and Program Prioritization Committee; advising student organizations, including the Student African American Sisterhood and the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society.

"Sometimes you get a little worn out and wonder if you're making an impact, so it's great when you are recognized for what you do, especially when you're recognized by not only the students but also the entire university as well," Howard-Hamilton said. "I love what I do, and it's amazing to be awarded for it. I already had a lot of energy, but this gives me even more energy and I want to do more."

She was also recognized as a recipient of the Dreiser Award for 2015. Her other previous recognitions include Holmstedt Distinguished Professor in the Bayh College in 2012 and the Robert S. Shaffer Award for Academic Excellence as a Graduate Faculty Member from NASPA-Student Affairs Educators in Higher Education in 2007.

An ongoing and sustained commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and global engagement has also earned Howard-Hamilton the Equity and Diversity Leadership Award from the Terre Haute Human Relations Commission in 2013 and the Champion of Diversity Award from the Indianapolis Recorder and Indiana Minority Businesses in 2013, presenting at the Oxford Roundtable at Oxford University in 2010, consulting for the Student Housing Training Institute in South Africa in 2010 and receiving the Mildred Garcia Exemplary Scholarship Award from the Council on Ethnic Participation of the Associate for the Study of Higher Education in 2011.

"There are so many people who are supportive of the things I do, but not just about what I do," she said. "It's like being on a basketball team. You need all of the players to help you be successful. I'm just a tiny component of many moving parts that making everything work."

Other awards and their recipients were:

• Caleb Mills Distinguished Teaching Award: Valentina French, associate professor of physics.

• Community-Based Learning and Scholarship Award: Bridget Roberts-Pittman, associate professor of counseling.

• Theodore Dreiser Distinguished Research and Creativity Award: Mary Howard-Hamilton, Bayh College of Education professor of educational leadership, Betty Phillips, professor of linguistics, Tony Rathburn, professor of geology, and Guo-Ping Zhang, professor of physics.

• Faculty Distinguished Service Award: Darlene Hantzis, a professor of communication and women's studies.


Photos: -- Mark Hamm, professor of criminology, and Mary Howard-Hamilton, Bayh College of Education professor of educational leadership, receive the President's Medal during a faculty awards banquet Wednesday evening. -- Mark Hamm, professor of criminology -- Mary Howard-Hamilton, Bayh College of Education professor of educational leadership

Media Contact: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or