UW-W honors UW-EC English professor


UW-Eau Claire English Professor John Hildebrand was chosen to receive the 2012 UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Regional Literacy Award.


The award was first given in 2006 and honors a living author for his or her nonfiction works, which celebrate unique attributes of the Midwest.

Hildebrand is the author of three nonfiction works titled “Reading the River: A Voyage Down the Yukon,” “Mapping the Farm: The Chronicle of a Family” and “A Northern Front: New and Selected Essays.”

Hildebrand said he became intrigued by writing nonfiction works after realizing how many real-life stories already existed that were not written.

“I had tried writing fiction and found that the stories in nonfiction were just as interesting as any novel I [had] ever read,” Hildebrand said. “I realized there were all kinds of interesting stories out there.”

Hildebrand earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Michigan in 1971 and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska in 1974. He has been teaching at UW-Eau Claire for more than 30 years.

“It’s nice to be recognized for your work,” Hildebrand said of the award and his books, which took him years to write.

UW-Whitewater Vice Chancellor Tom Rios was one of Hildebrand’s students in 1977.

“I think his impact goes well beyond being an author,” Rios said. “His passion is contagious. He had a large impact not only on me, but on hundreds of students. I remember one time … in one short conversation he both validated and challenged me as a writer.”

Hildebrand’s first work details his adventures on the river in Alaska and Canada. The second was written about his wife’s family.

His third book consists of various essays he has collected over the past 20 years.

“The hardest part is turning it into a story someone would want to read,” Hildebrand said.

There was a public award reception at 7 p.m. on Monday at Summers Auditorium in the University Center, which featured a reading and a book signing.

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