Santos and Bracken receive Lamar Awards for outstanding service to Yale alumni

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Paul Bracken and Laurie Santos with a portrait of former Yale President Howard R. Lamar. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

Yale professors Laurie Santos and Paul Bracken were presented Howard R. Lamar Awards for Service to Alumni on April 25 at a luncheon hosted by the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA).

The awards, first presented last year, are named for Lamar, the 21st president of the university and Sterling Professor Emeritus of History, who was himself one of the inaugural recipients in 2014 along with professors Marie Borroff, Donald Kagan, and Vincent Scully Jr.

Presented by the AYA Board of Governors, the awards celebrate the contributions faculty make to alumni programs and honor those who have demonstrated exemplary leadership for alumni relations by the ways in which, through their scholarship and activities, they have chosen to render service to the Yale family worldwide.

The citations for Santos and Bracken follow:

Laurie Santos

Associate professor of psychology

Who knew that so many would be so delighted to learn about our own irrationality? Through 12 years of teaching and groundbreaking research in Yale’s Department of Psychology, you have become widely known for making science fun — and for helping us better understand ourselves. Exploring the evolutionary origins of the human mind and comparing our cognitive abilities with those of non-human primates, you ask and answer questions that resonate on a fundamental level with those you teach. From you, we learn about how we decide to love, to fight, to be generous, or to be stingy — and more recently, what’s going on in the minds of our dogs.

Already a beloved teacher, you welcome hundreds of undergraduates each year to “Sex, Evolution, and Human Nature,” a course so big that it’s held in Battell Chapel. You have also made your Comparative Cognition Laboratory an inviting space for students, some of whom have designed their own experiments there and even published in professional journals.

Not surprisingly, you have become one of the AYA’s most sought-after faculty speakers, and you answer this call by engaging with alumni and parents all over the world. Since 2010 you have enthusiastically visited Yale Clubs in Kansas City, New Hampshire, Philadelphia, and western Washington. Five cycles of reunion classes have heard you speak on campus, and you’ve accompanied alumni on trips to Tanzania and the Galápagos — along the way establishing yourself as a gracious conversationalist and energetic speaker. All of this comes in addition to your relentless efforts to make your work accessible to the general public through podcasts, TED talks, many articles in the press, and, of course, Twitter.

In addition to being a creative teacher, an inspiring mentor, and an esteemed colleague, you are a true citizen of the university, and the Association of Yale Alumni is pleased to present you with the Howard R. Lamar Faculty Award for extraordinary service to Yale graduates.

Paul Bracken ’82 Ph.D.

Professor of management and political science

The world can be a scary place — but less so to those who have studied with you. Your teaching and research bring order to some of today’s most complex global issues, from cybersecurity to nuclear politics and from government surveillance to international business.

To prepare themselves to lead in our tumultuous global landscape, Yale students come by the hundreds to your “Strategy, Technology, and War” course. They are drawn by the great timeliness of your work, but also by your cheerful demeanor and your prodigious ability to deconstruct even the most intricate of global problems. At the Yale School of Management, you train future business leaders to deal with intense uncertainty. And many in the general public have made sense of a hugely pertinent and complex topic—nuclear policy—by reading “The Second Nuclear Age,” just one of your many important publications.

Your service to Yale alumni is longstanding and remarkable in its scope. Since 1990 you have lectured to AYA groups 62 times, visiting Yale Clubs from Boston to Dallas to Colorado. You have participated in seven Yale reunions since the early 1990s. And showing how globally relevant your research and teaching is, you have traveled with Yale Educational Travel to places as far-flung and diverse as Vietnam, Germany, Japan, and Tanzania. Even when accompanying Yale SOM students on their international experiences, you go out of your way to be of service to alumni, wherever they are. It’s no wonder that you’ve inspired a loyal band of followers who value the insight you give to the complex world of policy making. Not to mention that you and your wife, Nan, have proven to be excellent travel companions, inviting discourse and in many cases fostering lasting connections.

For your outstanding leadership and commitment to serving Yale alumni for more than two decades, the Association of Yale Alumni gratefully presents to you the Howard R. Lamar Faculty Award.

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