David Walker’s fervent curiosity about the world beyond the United States has shaped his life.
As an undergraduate at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history, political science and Russian studies. He also studied abroad in the former Soviet Union in 1987.
“I got a taste of being overseas,” Walker says, “and I enjoyed it immensely.”
Following graduation, Walker and his wife joined the Peace Corps, serving together from 1989 to 1991 in Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo) and from 1992 to 1994 in Mauritania.
Those years in Francophone Africa sparked his interest in the history of that region, and upon his return home, he enrolled at Iowa State University to earn a master’s degree in history. He later completed a Ph.D. there in education.
Since then, as an academic with a dynamic research agenda of qualitative methodology, significant grant funding, a strong record of mentoring graduate students and a platform of promoting international collaboration as president of the Mid-Western Educational Research Association, Walker has undeniably forged an impressive career.
Now the associate dean of the NIU College of Education has external confirmation of that fact.
Walker is the 2017 recipient of Iowa State’s Virgil Lagomarcino Laureate Award, which honors graduates of the College of Human Sciences who are nationally and internationally recognized for their meritorious service or distinguished achievement in the field of education.
He will travel to Ames in October for the ceremony, which takes place during Homecoming.
“I feel very honored and humbled that my peers support me. Iowa State is kind of where it all started for me,” says Walker, who came to NIU in 2003 as an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment.
The former Cyclone has dedicated himself to modeling his professors there.
“At Iowa State, I mentored under some of the best in the business,” he says, “and after I graduated, it became apparent to me how privileged I was to study under these great names in our field. I consider it my due diligence to give back to the field, and I strive to do that in my teaching and research.”
Fellow Iowa State alumna Christine Sorensen Irvine, a former dean of the NIU College of Education, nominated Walker for the award. The two also have published together.
Walker is looking forward to his trip back to Ames to collect his Lagomarcino.
“I’ll see a lot of good friends and mentors,” he says. “It’s going to be a great evening.”