Skip to content
Home » Posts » Alexander Durtka, Jr. Receives UW-Milwaukee 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award

Alexander Durtka, Jr. Receives UW-Milwaukee 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award

Dave Amoroso • Ron Sonntag Public Relations, Inc.
414-354-0200, ext. 108 •

MILWAUKEE —Alexander P. Durtka, Jr., the President and Chief Executive Officer of The International Institute of Wisconsin (IIW), was presented with the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award at an awards dinner on Fri., April 8.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, presented on limited occasions when the UWM Alumni Association honors an alumnus/alumna with exemplary achievements over the span of a lifetime, recognizes those who have had extraordinary success in the following arenas: professional achievement, community involvement, advancement of UWM’s mission, giving back of time, effort, and/or capital and encouraging and inspiring future leaders.

Recipient of a Master of Science degree in Social Work in 1973 from UW-Milwaukee, Durtka also earned a Master of Divinity from Sacred Heart School of Technology in 1991 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cardinal Stritch University in 2008. A sought-after lecturer, he has returned regularly to give lectures at UW-Milwaukee as well as making presentations throughout the world.

Recognized for his 38 years leading the IIW, an organization dedicated to the promotion of international cooperation, understanding, and a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural perspective, Durtka was acknowledged for offering a forum for individuals to experience the world and to learn not only about their culture, but the various cultures, heritages, and philosophies that those who live in Milwaukee and Wisconsin bring to the community. He cultivated strong partnerships with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and the State of Wisconsin. In addition, Durtka has expanded the organization’s provision of interpretation and translation services, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and the IIW’s internship program. He also implemented the IIW’s annual World Citizen Awards, which recognizes those who promote a global world view.

With the IIW serving as the producer of the annual Holiday Folk Fair International, recognized as America’s premiere multi-cultural festival, Durtka was instrumental in growing the event over the last four decades. This includes the introduction of visiting guests groups from around the world and the creation of the Holiday Folk Fair Wall of Honor, the Master Artisan Guild, the Cultural Awareness Program (CAP) Educational Day, and the Around the World in 5K run/walk. He was also responsible for adding an annual naturalization ceremony to the event, where hundreds of individuals are sworn in as new United States citizens.

“My memories of UWM are not buildings or activities, but rather individuals – my advisor, field placement supervisor, and others who helped guide me in my development in a profession that can have a lasting impact, which theirs did,” Durtka said. “As the African Yurba saying states, ‘We stand tall on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.’ We continue the tradition as we now supervise interns as they begin their journey.”

Durtka, whose IIW tenure will conclude with his retirement later this spring, has been recognized for his efforts with numerous other awards and commendations, including the Order of the Rising Sun (conferred by the Emperor of Japan, for his contributions to the Japan – United States relationship), the Silver Meritorious Award from the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (CIOFF), the Silver Sake Cup from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Commendation, the Preserving Our Legacy Award from the National Folk Organization – USA, and Polish American Congress – Wisconsin Zablocki Civic Achievement Award.

For more information, call 414-225-6220 or visit

Editor’s Note: Attached is a photo of Alexander P. Durtka, Jr. receiving the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone.