Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University, has been named among the Elite 11 finalists for the 2023 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
Created in June 2012, the award honors an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football. The recipient will be determined by a selection committee consisting of seven FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. The announcement of the 2023 Armed Forces Merit Award recipient will be made on Nov. 9 during a live mid-day SportsCenter on ESPN.
Dr. Hawkins is a finalist for the third straight year and is joined on this year’s list by U.S. Air Force veteran and play-by-play voice for the Northern Illinois Huskies Bill Baker, Colorado State and Wyoming’s Bronze Boot Run, Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, Texas Tech defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, former U.S. Marine Cobra Attack Helicopter pilot Matt Ganyard who now serves as a kickoff specialist for the Virginia Cavaliers, Furman quarterback Tyler Huff, Marine veteran and UCLA football Chief of Staff Bryce McDonald, Army veteran Lamar Sorey who serves in the role of quality control for personnel with the Florida football program, the Thomas University Military Transition Initiative, and North Carolina co-defensive coordinator Charlton Warren.
“I am humbled by this nomination because it reflects the commitment Troy University has made to serve the U.S. military — a commitment that has been a part of our culture for more than 75 years,” Dr. Hawkins said. “Freedom is not free and I am proud to lead an institution that places a priority on educating the men and women who serve our great nation. I am also grateful to the FWAA for recognizing Troy University in this manner.”
Dr. Hawkins is a member of the College Football Playoffs’ Board of Managers as a representative for the Sun Belt Conference and has been the Chancellor of Troy University since September 1, 1989, making him the longest-serving CEO of a public university in the nation.
After completing his bachelor’s degree in 1967 from the University of Montevallo, Dr. Hawkins was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and served as a platoon leader during the Vietnam War. For his combat duty, he received the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and a citation from the Korean Marine Corps.
From 2014 to 2017, Dr. Hawkins served on the Marine Corps University Board of Visitors and was a member of the Air University Board of Visitors from 2004 to 2012, serving as Chair from 2010 to 2012. The Secretary of the Air Force presented Dr. Hawkins the Distinguished Public Service Award in 2012 in recognition of his service to the United States Air Force.
Under Dr. Hawkins’ leadership, the TROY for Troops Center was created to meet needs unique to the military-affiliated student. The University also introduced the Military and Family Scholarship for active-duty military or reserves and their spouses or dependent children.
TROY is consistently recognized as a leading institution for members of the military and veterans by such publications as U.S. News and World Report, GI Jobs, Military Times Edge, Advanced Military Education, and more. TROY currently operates support centers on or near military bases in the USA and abroad.
TROY’s service to the civilian community also extends to Vietnam, where in 2008, it became the first U.S. university to award the baccalaureate degree in that country. Today, Troy enrolls more than 1,000 students and has graduated more than 1,500 alumni in Vietnam.
Past recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA include Nate Boyer of the University of Texas (2012), Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas (2013), Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University (2014), Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo., 2015), Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University (2016), Dr. Chris Howard from Robert Morris University (2018), Army West Point assistant coach Mike Viti (2019), Collin O’Donnell of Bluefield College of Virginia (2020), Damien Jackson of the University of Nebraska (2021) and the Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation (2022).