UChicago Alumni Awards

The Magazine is delighted to present the 2023 Alumni Award recipients. A celebration of their achievements is planned for Alumni Weekend, May 18–21, 2023.

Alumni Medal

For achievement of an exceptional nature in any field, vocational or voluntary, covering an entire career

Illustrated portrait of Philip Glass, AB'56

“You know Philip Glass’s work even if you don’t realize it. Once you listen to his music, you’ll always recognize it, even when he tries something new—that’s the brilliance of Philip Glass. His career is as multifaceted as the College’s Core Curriculum: a blend of humanities and math, an artistic approach that embraces critical inquiry, debate, and analytical thinking.”

Professional Achievement Award

For outstanding achievement in any professional field

Illustrated portrait of Leslie Bluhm, JD'89

“Leslie has dedicated her life to public service—pausing her own career to become a social entrepreneur who empowers people, nonprofit organizations, and communities to tackle complex challenges through service. Her influence and impact have stretched the globe from her hometown of Chicago all the way to Kenya.”

Eugene Narmour, PhD.74

“His work has touched on every corner of musical experience—melody, rhythm, meter, harmony, orchestration and timbre, dissonance, emotion, and so on—as well as how our understanding of music might inform studies of other phenomena such as visual art. His rigorous intellect and demanding yet loving presence have helped shape some of the most prominent scholars in music theory and music cognition.”

Illustrated portrait of Ken Ono, AB'89

“Ken is deeply passionate about promoting unknown or unsung heroes in math, particularly underrepresented minorities and women. He also uses his expertise to help the US swim team train its athletes. Ken embodies the University of Chicago’s passion for learning, for diving deep, and for making previously unseen connections obvious to others. He reminds me of Carl Sagan, AB’54, SB’55, SM’56, PhD’60, in that he is making very complex concepts in math accessible to broader audiences.”

Illustrated portrait of Amanda Williams, LAB’92

“Amanda is a pioneering artist and leading voice at the intersection of art and design in the public realm. Her practice of exploring the communal and social implications of art and architecture has led to a reconsideration of the centrality of identity to how space is organized. Amanda is using her art to draw attention to the lack of investment in African American communities around Chicago and to invite viewers to consider the social, political, and racial narratives that support their devaluation.”

Early Career Achievement Award

For professional achievement or creative leadership by alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years

Illustrated portrait of Naftali Harris, AB'12

“Naftali’s company SentiLink solved the growing problem of synthetic identity fraud, which costs financial institutions $6 billion a year. He and his team developed the vision and platform to solve this fraud from the ground up.”

Illustrated portraits of Arnav Dalmia, AB'13, and Shivani Jain, AB'13

“Cubii is UChicago through and through. It was born from the life of the mind while Arnav and Shivani were students. In the early days they were rejected time and time again from traditional means of funding, but like true UChicago students, they embraced the challenge. Cubii is of course something that would be founded by a UChicago student—it’s a workout someone can do while sitting at their desk or a table in the Reg!”

Illustrated Portrait of Zeba Khan, AB'03, AM'03

“I don’t think I have ever met anyone with Zeba’s enthusiasm and passion for justice, combined with the savvy to follow through with purposeful action. She has been and continues to be a leader in the Muslim American community, a writer whose viral work captures the attention of politicians and policy makers, and an inspirational facilitator with those finding their voice.”

Alumni Service Medal

For extended, extraordinary service to the University

Illustrated portrait of Doug Jackman, AB'89, MBA'95

“Doug’s service to the University began in our senior year when he spearheaded the effort to raise money for our class gift. He has chaired our reunion committees and served on the Alumni Board, and he and his wife have established an Odyssey Scholarship. Doug bleeds maroon! He is always thinking of the University of Chicago and works tirelessly on the University’s behalf.”

Alumni Service Award

For outstanding service to the University

Illustrated portrait of Eddie Lau, AB'02

“Eddie was elected as the president of the Alumni Club of Hong Kong to rejuvenate the local alumni community. He was proactive in engaging University staff to ensure the University and local communities are better connected. He also organized, sponsored, and participated in alumni and University events, including alumni engagement, admission, and career advancement, as well as academic exchange.”

Illustrated portrait of Don Phillips, AM'86, CER'17

“Don was energized by his experience in the Graham School’s Basic Program in the Liberal Arts and, upon completing the program in 2017, he began serving as an active volunteer to bring the certificate program to more learners. His first step was bringing this opportunity to his own company, Morningstar. Don worked closely with Graham School instructors to adapt core elements of the program to offer a distinctive liberal arts education to Morningstar employees. That partnership continues to this day.”

Young Alumni Service Award

For service to the University by alumni who have graduated within the last 15 years

Illustrated portrait of Elizabeth Miller, AB’16

“Elizabeth is engaged, critical, kind, and downright fun to collaborate with. Common across all her volunteer areas is the ability to be a partner and bridge builder: among staff, fellow peer volunteers, and current students whom she mentors, and across generations, experiences, and interests. In such a short amount of time, she has already trailblazed and served as a model for others in the UChicago community.”

Norman Maclean Faculty Award

For extraordinary contributions to teaching and student life by emeritus or very senior faculty

Illustrated portrait of Frederick A. de Armas

“Professor de Armas is one of the most committed, knowledgeable, and inspirational professors I know. He is probably the most celebrated active scholar in the field of Golden Age Spanish literature. That said, I am confident that his greatest impact in academia lies in his enduring mentoring of generations of alumni. Some even speak of an intellectual school of de Armas: a strong, intergenerational network of scholars influenced by his mentoring and characterized by a particular approach to literature and culture and the ability to build bridges between the American and the European academies.”

Illustrated portrait of David Strauss

“What makes David really remarkable is his extraordinary teaching, mentoring, and support of students. His teaching is second to none. A master of the Socratic method, he artfully leads students through classroom dialogues in a uniquely David way that is subtle, affirming, and confidence building. He is thoughtful and generous in his feedback, and through all of this, his students grow into rigorous thinkers and top-notch advocates.”

These excerpts from the awardees’ nominations have been lightly edited. Find awardees’ complete biographies and nominate someone for a future award. (All illustrations by Daniel Hertzberg)