Scholarships continue Hilwig’s influence


Most will agree the teaching profession influences countless lives, as those immediately touched in turn inspire another, in an endless ripple. Occasionally, an individual manifests not only an effect on their students but also on their colleagues, friends, family, and nearly everyone they meet. Dr. Stuart Hilwig was just that sort of person. On October 28, 2012, the Adams State University professor of history was killed in an auto accident in northern New Mexico.

Stu Hilwig HGP Department Honors Scholarship

Compassionate, funny, approachable, humble, truly a person who made the most out of his life, Hilwig's sudden death shook the entire campus, especially those within his department. "Stu had a tremendous sense of humor and a real passion for working with students," said Dr. Edward Crowther, History/Government/Philosophy Department chair.

According to Crowther, the HGP Department "overwhelming" agreed to establish a scholarship in Hilwig's name. The department had set aside revenue from its master's in humanities/history for an undergraduate scholarship that will be named for Hilwig. Dr. John McDaniel, emeritus professor of history, also contributed to the scholarship.

"A 'scholarship' in every sense of the word, it is a fitting way to honor Stu. He wrote a book, was in the process of having it translated into Italian, and founded the Latino Studies minor," said Dr. Mari Centeno, associate professor of political science. "I half-jokingly announced that the most important criterion for scholarship recipients would be a sense of humor. After all, applicants to the scholarship should reflect some of the characteristics that made Stu great."

The faculty designated the Stu Hilwip HGP Department Honors Scholarship for students majoring in political science or history. Political science students must demonstrate successful progress toward completing a Latin American Studies minor and/or upper-division courses in Latin American Government, politics or US Latin American relations. History majors must demonstrate successful progress toward completing a bachelor's degree in history/government with courses in European, Latin American, Mexican and Chicano history.

Crowther said while Hilwig was engaging and humorous, he also had high expectations of his students. "He believed they could achieve those expectations and he was willing to help them reach those expectations."

Dr. Stuart Hilwig

Stuart Hilwig Memorial Scholarship

Ray Hilwig, Stuart's father, established the Stuart J. Hilwig Memorial Scholarship for Adams State students majoring in history. He said Stuart had gone through a lot of medical conditions, including his first heart surgery when he was four-and-a-half-years-old. "He had lots of miles, with surgeries and pace makers but he didn't let that slow him down, especially academically."

Ray said he admires Stuart for pursuing an academic career, including traveling to Europe to study, despite his chronic heart condition. "That kind of baggage did not keep him from moving forward and taking on more and more. As I look back on it, I wonder if I would have had the strength to forge forward."

Ray, who owns his own construction company and vacation rentals in Maine, said Stuart once told him, "'You know Dad, you have to remember I loved homework.' In that way, he was the total opposite of me." Although their chosen career paths differed, Ray said Stuart was "a working man's intellectual."

Ray established the scholarship at Adams State, rather than one of Stuart's alma maters because "Stuart really loved Adams State and it is those students he wanted to influence. This scholarship will carry on his influence."

Friends of Ray and Stuart have also donated to the scholarship. Ray hopes to add to the scholarship on the anniversary of Stuart's passing.

Stuart earned his B.A. from Vanderbilt University in 1991 and a Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University in 2000. He joined the Adams State faculty in 2000. He and his wife, Dr. Stephanie Hilwig, Adams State associate professor of sociology, have three children. His book Italy and 1968: Youthful Unrest and Democratic Culture was published in 2009 by Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.