A selection of UChicago alumni whose names are in the news.
Eric Elshtain, PhD’10, the Field Museum’s poet in residence since 2017, has an exhibition at the natural history museum featuring graphic panels of his poetry. The panels, in English and Spanish, are installed near the displays that inspired his work. Those include some of the Field’s most famous residents: SUE the tyrannosaur; Máximo the titanosaur, the largest dinosaur discovered thus far; and a model of “Lucy,” a 3.2-million-year-old hominid. Elshtain spends each Thursday stationed around the museum with his typewriter, helping visitors turn their impressions into poetry. The show, Poems by Eric Elshtain, opened in April—National Poetry Month—and runs through April 2023.
Patient and advocate
Tokoya Williams, LAB’00, AB’04, was featured in the Chicago Tribune for her efforts to lessen racial disparities in breast reconstruction surgery. Williams originally planned to become a cardiac surgeon but changed her focus after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis during medical school. While preparing for reconstruction surgery, she noticed how few images of Black patients were available, making it difficult for her to visualize the results of her procedure. Now a research fellow in Northwestern’s Division of Plastic Surgery, she is working to address diversity in patient imagery, understand why so few Black patients receive breast reconstruction surgery after cancer, and reduce postsurgical scarring in patients of color.
Dorene P. Wiese, AM’82, and Trina Reynolds-Tyler, MPP’20, were named by the Field Foundation of Illinois as 2022 Leaders for a New Chicago. The awards honor racial justice advocates and organizations that address systemic issues in underserved communities. Partnering with the MacArthur Foundation, the Field Foundation chose 10 leaders who each receive $25,000 and another $25,000 for their organizations. Wiese is chief executive officer of the American Indian Association of Illinois, which she founded in 2007 to provide educational programs, academic and social support, and financial planning for American Indian people. Reynolds-Tyler is director of data for the Invisible Institute, a Pulitzer Prize–winning nonprofit journalism production company on Chicago’s South Side.
Barbara Flynn Currie, LAB’58, AB’68 (Class of 1962), AM’73, received the 2022 Simon-Edgar Award for her “forceful, creative, consequential, and civil leadership in the Illinois General Assembly.” The award is given to current and former state or local government elected officials dedicated to public service, statesmanship, and bipartisanship. Currie served as an Illinois state representative from 1979 to 2019 and was appointed House majority leader in 1997—the only woman in the state’s history to hold this position.
Paul King, EX’60, received Engineering News-Record Midwest’s Legacy Award. King was honored for his efforts to increase diversity in the construction industry. Beginning in 1969, he and other Black contractors in Chicago led a series of protests against local construction projects that led trade unions—then almost exclusively White—to create new opportunities for Black members. King also worked to secure the passage of a 1976 amendment to a public works program that required state and local governments applying for federal contracts to reserve 10 percent of funds for minority-owned businesses. He later founded UBM Construction, the largest Black-owned contractor in Illinois.
Hyde Park Herald staff writer Aaron Gettinger, AM’17, won a Lisagor Award in May for best political reporting in a nondaily newspaper or magazine. His winning article from 2021 examined 20th Ward alderwoman Jeanette Taylor’s decision to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus despite her hesitancy. The article addresses a history of nonconsensual medical experimentation and a declining health care infrastructure on the South Side. The Lisagor Awards were established in 1977 by the Chicago chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
In September Rich Murray, AB’94, received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half Hour) for his work as set decorator on the Hulu series Only Murders in the Building. Murray’s previous credits include And Just Like That …, Madam Secretary, and Little Miss Sunshine. It was his first Emmy Award and nomination.