UWM professor awarded "MacArthur Genius Grant," MacArthur Foundation's highest honor

MILWAUKEE -- A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor has been awarded the "MacArthur Genius Grant" for work engaging the community in performance arts.

This is the MacArthur Foundation's highest honor, and theater professor Anne Basting is the first UWM faculty member to earn it.

She will receive $625,000 to spend on any project she wants.

The bulk of Basting's work has been about transforming the way we see aging. Right now, we see it as a tragedy, but Basting says it's important to realize that seniors can finish their lives in a more positive, meaningful way.

So what will she do with the money?

"I plan on just counting it, over and over again. No, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. You know, people ask me that and I feel like the beauty of this gift is that it's five years and it gives you time to evolve an idea and to grow," Basting said.

The last person to receive the grant in Wisconsin was Will Allen in 2008 -- founder of Growing Power.