FAU Honors Outstanding Teachers, Student With Talon Awards


By: Dale King Contributing Writer

Florida Atlantic University has been honoring outstanding community leaders as well as FAU alumni, faculty and members of the student body with Talon Awards annually since 1997.

The university recently added the names of four people — a local businesswoman and philanthropist, a professor, a department chair and a recent graduate from FAU’s College of Business – to that growing list.

At a ceremony held during Homecoming 2018, the school’s Alumni Association and Student Government honored Barbara Schmidt, businesswoman, philanthropist and meditation and mindfulness teacher, with the President’s Talon Award; Robin Rubin, BSW ’07 and MSW ’09, professor in the Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work, with the Alumni Talon Award; Kevin Wagner, JD, Ph.D, professor and department chair in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, with the Faculty Talon Award and Kira Wolack, an undergraduate in FAU’s Business College, with the Student Talon Award.

The ceremony and reception took place at the Tech Runway on the university’s Boca Raton campus.

“The Talon Leadership Awards ceremony allows us to recognize the outstanding Owls among us,” said Meghan DeFord, assistant vice president of alumni and community affairs. “It is truly a celebration of unbridled excellence that unites alumni, campus and community leaders.”

Schmidt practices mindfulness and meditation, with more than 30 years devoted to spiritual and developmental research. She is the founder of the Spirit of Giving Network and co-founder and past president of Ronald McDonald Children Charities of South Florida.

She is also the author of the best-seller, “The Practice: Simple Tools for Managing Stress, Finding Inner Peace, and Uncovering Happiness” and founder of the nonprofit organization, Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life.

Rubin teaches social work in FAU’s Phyllis and Harvey Sandler School of Social Work and is involved in the city’s philanthropic community. She has served on the foundation board for Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach County, the executive board of the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, South Palm Beach Jewish Federation and Norman and Ruth Rales Jewish Family Services.

In addition to teaching politics, Wagner is chair of the Department of Political Science in FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. He also serves as faculty-senate president and is a member of FAU’s Board of Trustees. His work has been published in journals and law reviews

The professor also serves as a political science expert for various media outlets across the world.

A 2017 graduate of FAU High School, Wolack received a dual-degree in accounting and English from FAU in December at the age of 19, while earning a 4.0 GPA. She started her graduate studies in accounting at FAU in January.

She is part of the Accounting Scholars Program at FAU and is the community service director for Beta Alpha Psi, an accounting honor society at the university.

She was named Undergraduate Researcher of the Year by the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters for the 2017-2018 academic year, and has an internship lined up at Ernst & Young for the summer 2019.