Highlights from the latest alumni news columns.
In November three University of Chicago alumni received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. Physicist Mildred Dresselhaus, PhD’58, was recognized for her contributions to carbon science that deepened modern understandings of condensed matter systems and carbon’s atomic properties. Former Law School professor Abner Mikva, JD’51, has served in all three branches of the federal government—he was a five-term congressman from Illinois; a chief justice on the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC; and White House counsel for President Clinton. Patsy (Takemoto) Mink, JD’51, was awarded the medal posthumously. The 12-term congresswoman from Hawaii was the first woman of color elected to Congress.
When Laurie L. Patton, AM’86, PhD’91, takes office as president of Middlebury College in Vermont on July 1, 2015, she will be the first female president in the college’s 214-year history. Patton, currently the dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences as well as the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion and a professor of cultural anthropology, is also the Divinity School’s 2015 Alumna of the Year.
Cincinnati mayor John Cranley has appointed Frank Wood, JD’67, as the city’s commissioner of fun. Wood has been making the city smile for decades. As popular radio station WEBN’s first deejay, he built a large following by filling the airwaves with commercials for fake products and coverage of fictitious April Fool’s Day parades. Wood was also the architect behind the city’s annual Riverfest fireworks display, which now attracts half a million people each year.
US secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker has appointed Marie Trzupek Lynch, MPP’96, as one of three cochairs of the 2014–16 National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The council will advise the commerce secretary on supporting entrepreneurs, fostering innovation, and creating a globally competitive American workforce. Lynch is the founding president and chief executive officer of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a public-private partnership that works directly with businesses to meet their staffing needs with qualified underemployed or unemployed job seekers.
Theodore “Ted” Gonder, AB’12, is one of four recipients of a 2014 Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship @ Chicago Ideas Week, a program designed to support socially conscious entrepreneurs under 35. Gonder will receive $10,000 to put toward Moneythink, the nonprofit he founded with four College classmates that aims to improve financial literacy among young people by training college students to mentor high schoolers in money management.
Two alumni-authored shows debuted this fall in Chicago. Playwright Ellen K. Graham, AB’95, a finalist for both the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2014 National Playwrights Conference and the Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship, wrote The Familiars, which opened at the Edge Theater in December. Plath/Hughes, a musical by Robert Eric Shoemaker, AB’14, opened in October at Gorilla Tango Bucktown after winning the 2014 Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize for Best Play.
Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff has chosen Joaquim Levy, PhD’93, as the country’s next finance minister. Levy, a Chicago Booth graduate and member of the school’s Global Advisory Board, Americas Cabinet, since 2010, has previously held government posts in Brazil, including secretary of finance in the state of Rio de Janeiro. He was also a visiting economist at the European Central Bank and has held several positions with the International Monetary Fund.