Degrees of honor

The 2014 alumni award recipients have made their marks on the University, their fields, or their causes. The University of Chicago Alumni Association will recognize them at a ceremony in Rockefeller Chapel during this June’s Alumni Weekend. 

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ALUMNI MEDAL
Donald F. Steiner, MD’56, SM’56
(Biological Sciences)
For more than five decades, Steiner, the A. N. Pritzker distinguished service professor in biochemistry and molecular biology, has pursued groundbreaking research on diabetes, earning international acclaim for his discoveries on the biosynthesis of insulin. His work “has improved life for millions of people,” says a colleague in the Biological Sciences Division. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Steiner has been recognized with the Canada Gairdner International Award, Israel’s Wolf Prize in Medicine, and the American Diabetes Association’s Banting Medal, among many other honors.

 

ALUMNI SERVICE AWARDS
Judith Munson, AB’63, and Lester Munson, JD’67
Judith and Lester Munson have shown their commitment to students and alumni as Taking the Next Step panelists, Metcalf Internship hosts, committee volunteers, and more. The Munsons, says a young alumna who interned with Judith, “are icons of guidance and leadership for the UChicago community.”

Terri Travis-Davis, AM’99 (School of Social Service Administration)
In addition to supporting the School of Social Service Administration community through fundraising, event planning, and mentorship, Travis-Davis established SSA’s annual African American Alumni Award. A fellow SSA alumni board member says her “commitment to SSA, its students, and alumni has been unwavering and unconditional.”

 

YOUNG ALUMNI SERVICE AWARDS
Jenna Beletic, AB’07
Beletic has chaired Phoenixphest Chicago, interviewed prospective students, reviewed Metcalf applications, hosted an Alumni Board of Governors extern, and served on the 2012 Caucus Advisory Committee. A fellow alumna writes, “Jenna has convinced me, and other reluctant alumni, that we owe a great deal to the University of Chicago.”

Luke Rodehorst, AB’09
Rodehorst has served on alumni club boards in Chicago, Detroit/Ann Arbor, and Washington, DC, and spoken on panels at numerous alumni events. He established and maintains the Chicago Men’s A Cappella affinity group. What sets Rodehorst apart, says a fellow UChicago graduate, is the “ability to translate his passion into action.”

 

PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Leon R. Kass, U-High’54, SB’58, MD’62
The Addie Clark Harding professor emeritus in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and a founding fellow of the Hastings Center, Kass has served on the National Council on the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities and chaired George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics. Although Kass “has distinguished himself as a bioethicist,” a colleague writes, “he prefers to be considered an ‘old-fashioned humanist.’”

C. Noel Bairey Merz, AB’77
A pioneer who was among the first to show that heart disease affects women differently than men, Bairey Merz is chair of the American College of Cardiology Cardiovascular Disease in Women Committee. A fellow cardiologist says, “Her research has and will have profound implications for women, clinical practice, and public policy.”

Peter Selz, AM’49, PhD’54 (Humanities)
An internationally recognized art historian, Selz was the first curator of modern painting and sculpture exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum. “When I think of him,” a colleague says, “I see erudition, enthusiasm, and energy.”

Bret Stephens, AB’95
A foreign affairs columnist and deputy editorial page editor at the Wall Street Journal, Stephens received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. A fellow alumnus describes his work as “reliably and beautifully researched, accurate, and thought provoking.”

 

PUBLIC SERVICE AWARDS
Bernard (Bernie) Sanders, AB’64
After serving 16 years in the House of Representatives, Sanders was elected to the US Senate in 2006. The chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Sanders, writes an alumna, “fights for working people and those who are left behind in this time of growing inequality.”

Michael L. Shakman, AB’62, AM’64, JD’66 (Social Sciences)
A partner at Miller Shakman & Beem LLP since 1972, Shakman has battled political patronage throughout his career, establishing the influential Shakman Decrees prohibiting politically motivated treatment of government employees. According to a colleague, Shakman “represents the very best in the legal profession in intellectual competence, honesty, and ethical commitment.”

 

NORMAN MACLEAN FACULTY AWARDS
Richard A. Epstein, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Law and Senior Lecturer
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and senior fellow of Pritzker’s Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Epstein has mentored University of Chicago law students for four decades. A former student writes, “In a school known for excelling in the domain of teaching, Richard Epstein is a legend. I saw the world analytically through his eyes.”

Susanne Rudolph, Benton Distinguished Service Professor Emerita, and Lloyd Rudolph, Professor Emeritus in Political Science
Susanne and Lloyd Rudolph, coauthors of many publications on the comparative politics of South Asia, are former Guggenheim Fellows and Ryerson Lecturers. In 2014 they were honored with India’s Padma Bhushan Award. The Rudolphs, “teachers by inclination, mentors in the deepest sense of the word,” a former student says, “have created a community, always growing, always interesting, intellectual, and social and very human.”

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