Spaights Plaza Honors

Two alumni with ties to the School of Education are among those are being honored with the Spaights Plaza award this year. Allen B. Caucutt, who earned his B.S. in art education in 1957, the year UWM was established. Diane Ogimaa-giizhigokwe Amour, earned her master’s degree in education in community counseling in 1986.

The awards are being presented at the annual fall service awards ceremony, set for 2:00 pm Thursday, Oct. 22. This year’s ceremony is available online during or after the event.

View Event

The Spaights award, which is commemorated with an engraved plaque on the plaza near the UWM Union, is given in recognition of significant and long-lasting contributions to the university and the community.

Allen B. Caucutt is an artist, educator, donor and proud alumnus of UWM.

He dearly loves UWM and will tell anyone who cares to listen that the knowledge and experiences he gained and friendships he made earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees here have made all the difference in his life.

Caucutt was part of the first class to graduate from the newly formed UWM in 1957, earning his BS in art education (the program was then part of the School of Education) and then an MS in 1963 from the Peck School of the Arts. He taught art in the Milwaukee Public Schools and Maple Dale Elementary in Fox Point. While at Maple Dale, he created an award-winning curriculum that received the Rockefeller Fund Exemplary Arts Education grant in 1982 — at that time it was the only middle school in the U.S. to earn this award.

After “retiring,” he taught art education to future teachers as a senior lecturer at UWM starting in 1999. He retired from UWM in 2012. He also has mentored more than 160 student teachers, many from UWM. Among his many awards, he was honored as a UWM Distinguished Alumnus and received the Outstanding Service to the Arts Award from the Peck School of the Arts. He is an emeritus board member of the UWM Alumni Association.

His former students still appreciate his lessons.

One student summed up her experience, saying Caucutt taught her to never forget what makes teaching matter most, and what leaves the most lasting impression. She said he was absolutely the most notable and influential person she has ever met.

Caucutt met Susan, his wife of more than 60 years, when they were undergraduates at UWM, and both were active supporters of UWM. She died in February 2020. Allen Caucutt continues to be active as an artist with major artworks in more than 75 public venues and more than 1,500 works in private collections. He is a featured artist at the Peck School of the Arts’ Continuum Alumni Exhibition in fall 2020.

Members of Caucutt’s community at Shorehaven in Oconomowoc, are holding a watch party for the virtual event Thursday afternoon.

Diane Ogimaa-giizhigokwe Amour has been instrumental in supporting American Indian students at UWM and sharing Indigenous culture with the broader Milwaukee community.

Amour, an elder of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, retired from UWM in 2016 after 40 years. She earned her master’s degree in education in community counseling in 1986 and her bachelor’s degree in social work in 1975, both from UWM.

In her 30 years as coordinator of the American Indian Student Services Office, she went above and beyond to ensure that American Indian students aspired to attend UWM and were successful when they did.

Amour also reached out to the American Indian and broader Milwaukee communities. She was one of the founders of the annual UWM Pow Wow to connect UWM to the Native community and helped organize Milwaukee’s Indian Summer Festival, events that showcased and celebrated both traditional and contemporary arts and cultures of Wisconsin’s Indigenous people.

Amour provided the opportunity to allow people to have more realistic views of American Indians and lessen the stereotypical views of being perceived only in the past by showing American Indians in a contemporary setting, according to colleagues. She was all about education at all levels of life.

Beyond her work at UWM, Amour has been active in the educational community, serving on the Wisconsin American Indian Language and Culture Education Board and the Wisconsin Indian Education Association, and being a founding and current member of the Milwaukee Indian Education Committee. She also serves as a board member and secretary of the Indian Community School and served as vice president of Indian Summer Festivals Inc.

Her fellow board members of the Indian Community School wrote that her work at UWM in supporting students, families and the community helped unite and strengthen the Indian community of today in Milwaukee. Her work to ensure there was a space for Native students to connect gave many of them an opportunity to earn their degrees, meet other Native students, and learn the true and accurate history of their people.