MADISON ― Four University of Wisconsin System students who have excelled in the classroom, while serving as strong campus and community leaders, are the first to receive an achievement award that honors a former member of the UW System Board of Regents.

The Alliant Energy/Erroll B. Davis, Jr. Achievement Awards recognize the outstanding scholarship and community-service efforts of students from traditionally underrepresented minority groups. The students, who are pursuing a degree in business or engineering at UW-Madison and UW-Platteville, receive $4,000 awards upon graduation.

“These students are outstanding scholars who have made their campuses better places to live and learn,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “By contributing their time and energy to helping others, these students have played a unique role in shaping a learning environment where students from all backgrounds can succeed and thrive.”

The awards honor Erroll B. Davis, a former chief executive of Alliant Energy, who was the first Black leader of a “Business Week 1000” company. Davis served as a member of the Board of Regents from 1987 to 1994, and is now chancellor of the University of Georgia System.

“These awards are a fitting tribute to Mr. Davis’s commitment to advancing opportunities for academic excellence, community service, and leadership for students of color in Wisconsin,” Reilly said. “The UW is fortunate to be a part of this award program to honor his dedication to higher education.”

The 2006 award winners are:

  • Ninrat Datiri, a senior majoring in electrical engineering at UW-Madison. Datiri has worked for both IBM and Hewlett-Packard, while also helping to build multicultural learning communities on campus.
  • ThaYeng Kong, a senior business administration major at UW-Platteville. He is active in the campus’s Hmong Club and has gained valuable experiences through business internships.
  • Natanael Jose Martinez, a recent UW-Madison graduate with degrees in management and human resources and marketing. Martinez works with middle-school English-as-a-Second-Language students and with UW-Madison’s PEOPLE program, designed to help high-school students bridge the gap between secondary and higher education.
  • Der Vang, a graduate of UW-Platteville, with a degree in electrical engineering. He was active in several campus organizations, and is the first member of his family to have earned a college degree.

The students will be honored at a 12:30 p.m. ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9, at The Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St., in Madison.

The Alliant Energy Foundation established a $400,000 endowment to fund the awards in 2006. The endowment fund honors Davis’s distinguished resume of public service. He and his wife, Elaine, founded a family foundation that provides college scholarships to underprivileged youth. Davis also sits on the U.S. Olympic Committee Board, and he was a former chairman of the Board of Trustees of Carnegie Mellon University, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Chicago.

Davis is a 1993 winner of the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Davis received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Chicago.

Media Contact

David Giroux UW System (608) 262-4464