Alumna of the Year Award

LawtonColleen Anne Fotsch Lawton, M.D., Arts ’79 u  
Oconomowoc, Wis.

For Dr. Colleen A. F. Lawton, the pursuit of a profession became much more than a career; it became a calling to improve the lives of others by advancing world-class cancer care. Her drive is fueled not just by a desire to leave a footprint as a caring clinician but to pave a path for those who follow through mentorship.

An encounter with a cervical cancer patient undergoing radiation treatment set Colleen on the course to her life's work in oncology, a calling she pursued for 40 years, including more than 25 as the residency program director at the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Department of Radiation Oncology. Prior to her retirement in January 2024, Colleen published extensively in her area of prostate cancer research and served as a tenured professor and vice chair of the department within MCW’s Clinical Cancer Center.

Throughout her storied career, Colleen relied on the values she learned from her time at Marquette as well as her family and their strong Marquette legacy. “Faith has helped to steady me daily, but especially in the highs and lows of life,” Colleen says. “As a student, I was a frequent flier at the St. Joan of Arc Chapel, and I've tried to pass on the incredible importance of faith to our four kids.” In fact, it was at Marquette where Colleen met her husband of 41 years, Pat, Bus Ad ’78, Grad ’80.

Principles grounded in her faith have guided Colleen to make contributions far beyond patient care and research, including her strength in leadership, her professional accomplishments as a clinician, and her role as a mentor guiding the next generation of oncology physicians and researchers. She spearheaded the in-training exam program at the American College of Radiology, fostering collaboration with other leaders in her field to enhance resident education.

Colleen’s passion and dedication have driven her to make transformative contributions to cancer care and inspire others to answer the same calling. In 2021, Colleen received the ASTRO Distinguished Gold Medal Award from the American Association for Radiation Oncology, the highest honor given to members who have made extraordinary strides in their field. Colleen is also credited with leading the creation of the Radiation Oncology Institute (ROI), ASTRO's esteemed research foundation. Under her guidance, the ROI has successfully secured over $16 million in funding to support future research and invest in leaders who will continue to advance the field.

As she looks to the future, Colleen is eager to serve in new ways. “In my next phase of life, I want to do the hands-on volunteerism that I was unable to do during my working career,” Colleen says. “It might be as simple as giving a hug or guiding people with their health decisions. I know there's a place for me to be of assistance.”

“If you make a difference in the life of one person, you've made a difference,” she says. “Both in my career as a radiation oncologist and now in my new career as a volunteer, I have made and hope to continue to make a difference.”

Fun Facts:

  • One of Colleen’s favorite Marquette memories is going to basketball games. “We won the NCAA title with Al McGuire when I was a student,” she says.
  • Colleen has seven brothers, all of whom graduated from MU.
  • She and her husband, Pat, have been annual men’s basketball ticketholders for more than 35 years.

Leave a congratulatory message for Colleen!


u Celebrating a Marquette Reunion