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April 8, 2005
Contact: Nancy Lott, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (785) 864-3516.

KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences names distinguished alumni


LAWRENCE -- The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas will present CLA&S Alumni Distinguished Achievement Awards to four notable alumni.

Recipients are Elizabeth G. Broun, Washington, D.C.; Irving S. Johnson, Sanibel, Fla.; Mike Robe, Studio City, Calif.; and Gary G. Sick, New York, N.Y. The winners will be honored during a banquet at 5:30 p.m. April 8 at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at KU.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Broun received a bachelor's degree in French in 1968, a master's degree in history of art in 1969 and doctorate in history of art in 1976, all from KU. She also holds a certificate of advanced study from the University of Bordeaux, France. From 1976 to 1983, Broun was curator of prints and drawings at the Spencer Museum of Art at KU and was an assistant professor of history of art. During her last year at KU, she also was the acting director for the Spencer museum.

In 1983, Broun joined the Smithsonian American Art Museum, first as chief curator and assistant director, then as acting director. For the past 15 years, she has been the Margaret and Terry Stent director of the museum and its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery (Crafts and Decorative Arts) in Washington, D.C.

Irving Johnson, who led the commercial production of insulin with recombinant DNA technology at Eli Lilly, earned his doctorate in developmental biology in 1953 from KU. Johnson was an assistant instructor in embryology, parasitology and general zoology from 1948 to 1950 at KU. He was a leading scientist in the pharmaceutical industry for 35 years and concluded his career as vice president of research for Eli Lilly in 1988. Johnson has published more than 90 articles and continues to serve as an independent research consultant.

Johnson is a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II. He was a member of the U.S. delegation of the National Science Foundation that reviewed the biological effect of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. In 1984, he received the first Congressional Award in Science and Technology.

Mike Robe is credited with establishing the professional advisory board of the Department of Theatre and Film in the early 1980s. He has served on the board since its creation and is chair. A Kansas native, Robe earned bachelor's (1966) and master's (1968) degrees in radio-TV-film. After graduating from KU, Robe served as a communications officer in the U.S. Air Force. He is a writer-director-producer of made-for-television movies, and his most recent works include "The Junction Boys" (2002) and "Reversible Errors" (2004).

In recognition of his loyalty to the state of Kansas and to KU, then-Gov. Bill Graves proclaimed Jan. 27, 1996, as "Mike Robe Day." Robe is a loyal KU alumnus, returning to campus regularly to conduct classes and workshops about his current projects.

Gary Sick graduated from the College in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in French literature. While at KU, Sick was a member of the debate team, a Summerfield scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society. After graduating, Sick served in the Navy. During his service, Sick completed a master's degree at George Washington University and later a doctorate at Columbia University. He served as an assistant naval attache in Egypt, at the Naval War College and as a country director for the Persian Gulf at the U.S. Defense Department. For six years, he served on the staff of the National Security Council, where he was the principal White House staff member dealing with Iranian affairs during the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis.

Since retiring from the Navy in 1981, Sick has served in a variety of academic positions, most recently as executive director of Gulf/2000, an international research project on political, economic and security developments in the Persian Gulf. In addition, Sick is a senior research scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He also is an independent author and consultant.

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