November 15, 2006

Doctoral student earns 'Humanities Hero' title

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Illinois Humanities Council has named Mascoutah resident Daniel W. Hechenberger (1017 W. Green St.), a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, one of 75 "Humanities Heroes" through its Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award program.

Hechenberger received the news last month and will receive a bronze medal of recognition engraved with his name and hometown during a ceremony in Mascoutah.

Local mayors nominate residents of their communities every other year for the award program, which has handed out more than 400 medals since its start in 1999. Mayors nominate residents for making significant efforts to promote the humanities in their areas.

Mascoutah Mayor Gerald "Jerry" Daugherty cited Hechenberger for founding and running, on a volunteer basis, an educational not-for-profit organization now known as Nipwaantiikaani, which means "the lodge where we learn from each other." It works to cultivate an appreciation for social studies, history and other cultures, particularly the cultures of Illinois' first peoples.

In addition, Hechenberger served as historical consultant and co-writer of a documentary on the early history of Illinois Indians and created an exhibit about the Illinois tribe for SIUC's museum. He also writes newsletters on the state's various subtribes and travels to libraries and schools where he performs with puppets and other living history and storytelling aids.

This is Hechenberger's second honor this year. Earlier, he won one of seven national scholarship awards made to graduate students by Phi Delta Kappa, an international honor society.

Coordinating and expanding major cultural outreach programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.