Dr. James Fawcett Wins the National Wick Career Leadership Award

Early this month, the National NOAA Sea Grant Extension Assembly awarded University of Southern California (USC) Sea Grant’s Dr. James (Jim) Fawcett the William Q. Wick Visionary Career Leadership Award. The award recognizes outstanding career achievement, leadership, vision, and contributions to Sea Grant Extension through programming or administration by a Sea Grant extension professional. It is only given to 1-2 awardees every two years.

Jim was the USC Sea Grant Extension Lead and the Marine Transportation and Seaport Specialist for over 20 years and just retired in January 2023. Jim remains an Adjunct Professor in both the USC Dornsife College Environmental Studies Program and the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, teaching marine environmental policy and coastal management, as he has for the last 20 years.

Jim, along with a handful of other individuals in the Sea Grant network, pioneered the network’s extension work in the realm of ports and shipping. Before that effort, Sea Grant had little engagement with the port community. But Jim had the vision and the expertise as a planner to develop creative solutions to environmental and spatial issues faced by a quickly growing port infrastructure. He worked with the largest port complex in the nation to improve air quality, encourage greener fuel research and create open dialogs, and successfully applied policies with the major Asian shipping companies using these American ports.

Christopher Petrone, Extension Lead and National Lead for the Sea Grant Federal Liaisons Program, who was part of the national committee deciding on the Wick Award, said, “This is a particularly special award for me to present as Jim has been a colleague, a mentor, and a friend since I first met him in 2014. He’s been instrumental in my own professional growth as an extension leader and others in the Sea Grant Extension Assembly. His impact will be felt through the network and by Sea Grant audiences for years to come.”

Several other colleagues from inside USC and from the wider Port-Transporation community in Los Angeles also commented on Jim’s talents and hard work over the last two decades:

…he’s a true center of gravity and respected leader in the Los Angeles and Long Beach Port complex.

James Kipling (Kip) Louttit Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Retired, Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Southern California

During my 18 years as President and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific, which ended in 2021, I relied on Jim for advice on programs and exhibits….His impact and leadership have been regional,  national, and global.

Dr. Jerry R. Schubel President Emeritus, Aquarium of the Pacific, Distinguished Professor and Dean Emeritus, Stony Brook University

Leadership requires deep understanding of the problem you are trying to solve, and Dr. Fawcett’s exceptional ability to lead the policy discussion is rooted in his multilayered understanding of the proposed technological solutions themselves.

Dr. Robert Aniszfeld Managing Director, Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute, University of Southern California

The ports and the shipping industry are vital to the nation’s economic fortunes; thus, Jim’s accomplishments over the last three decades supporting a balance between economics and environmental protection “should be seen as the ultimate test and success of extension work,” said USC Sea Grant Executive Director, Phyllis Grifman.

Read more about Jim’s achievements during his two-decade-plus tenure with USC Sea Grant in our tribute to his career here.

Dr. Fawcett with Christopher Petrone at the 2023 Sea Grant Extension Assembly Meeting.
Dr. Fawcett with Christopher Petrone at the 2023 Sea Grant Extension Assembly Meeting.