KU News Release

March 31, 2010
Contact: Christie Appelhanz, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (785) 864-3516

Influential alumni celebrate experiences possible with a liberal arts education

LAWRENCE — Recipients of the 2009-10 Alumni Distinguished Achievement Awards will return to the University of Kansas campus Friday, April 9, to share and celebrate the experiences made possible with a liberal arts and sciences education from KU.

KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will host winners of the award, the highest honor bestowed by the College on its graduates. Recipients include an acclaimed artist, a baseball consultant, a television executive and a U.S. cabinet secretary.

During the annual Deans Club Banquet at 5:30 p.m. April 9 in the Kansas Union ballroom, Gregory B. Simpson, interim dean of the College, will present awards to Ann Hamilton, of Columbus, Ohio; Bill James, of Lawrence; and Kathleen Sebelius, of Washington, D.C. Steve Mills, of Beverly Hills, Calif., will be honored with the award through a video tribute. Donors who supported the College with a gift of $1,000 or more in the last year are invited to the banquet.

Two public events designed for students, faculty, staff and members of the public will showcase the diverse accomplishments of the recipients.

Visual artist Hamilton will discuss her work at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 8, at the Spencer Museum of Art. The event is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art. Hamilton has the distinction of being the first distinguished alumni recipient from the new School of the Arts housed within the College.

James, an acclaimed baseball researcher and senior adviser to the Boston Red Sox, will present a lecture titled “Battling Expertise with the Power of Ignorance” at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, in 120 Snow Hall as part of Mathematics Awareness Month. The event is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Department of Mathematics.

Brief biographies of award recipients are below.

Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton is a visual artist internationally recognized for the sensory surrounds of her large-scale multimedia installations. Noted for a dense accumulation of materials, her environments create immersive experiences that respond to the architectural presence and social history of their sites. Born in Lima, Ohio, in 1956, Hamilton received a bachelor’s in textile design from KU in 1979 and a master’s in sculpture from Yale University in 1985. Among her many honors, she has been a recipient of the Heinz Award, MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, NEA Visual Arts Fellowship and United States Artists Fellowship, and she was chosen to represent the United States at the 48th Venice Biennale. In 1992, she established her home and practice in Columbus, Ohio. She is a professor of art at Ohio State University.

Bill James

George William James

Through his innovative work with baseball research, Bill James has changed the way the sport is viewed, understood and managed. James is senior adviser to the Boston Red Sox, contributing to the team’s two world championships. James was identified by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He has published more than 20 books and dozens of articles focusing on the elements of a winning baseball team. Every year, thousands of baseball fans eagerly await “The Bill James Handbook,” the most complete annual baseball guide available. His latest work, “The Bill James Gold Mine 2009,” is a groundbreaking collection of 17 original essays and statistical profiles. James received bachelor’s degrees in English and economics from KU in 1973 and a bachelor’s in education in 1975.

Steve Mills

Steve Mills

Steve Mills, president and producer of New Vision Entertainment, has led a distinctive entertainment career, producing more than 600 television movies and miniseries. His work on “The Incident” was honored with an Emmy Award. As senior vice president of programming for Qintex Entertainment, he was responsible for the lauded “Lonesome Dove.” Mills has worked with such actors as Henry Fonda, Sidney Poitier, Burt Lancaster, Robert Duval and Anthony Hopkins. His career started locally at KCTV in 1953, but he was soon hired by ABC affiliate KABC Los Angeles as a producer-director-program manager. He attributes much of his success to his “Kansas ethic of honesty and common sense.” Mills has stayed loyal to his alma mater through his support to KU’s debate program and film and media studies program. Mills graduated from KU in 1951 with a bachelor’s in liberal arts and sciences.

Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in April 2009. As secretary, she’s become a familiar face to Americans as a powerful advocate for reforming the nation’s health insurance system and a leader of the administration’s response to public health emergencies, including the H1N1 virus. She also oversees one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government with nearly 80,000 employees. Sebelius was elected governor of Kansas in 2002 and was reelected in 2006. In 2005, Time magazine named her one of America’s five best governors for her leadership and record of bipartisanship. Before her tenure as governor, Sebelius spent eight years as the Kansas insurance commissioner and was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1986 to 1994. Sebelius graduated from KU with a master’s in public administration in 1980.

The Alumni Distinguished Achievement Awards are presented annually to select graduates of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of the Arts. The awards recognize professional achievements, dedication to community and involvement with KU. Selection of recipients is made by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advisory Board. More information and nomination instructions can be found at clas.ku.edu. Follow the “Alumni & Friends” link. The College enrolls more than 18,000 students and encompasses more than 55 departments, programs and centers and the new School of the Arts. Nearly half of the students at KU earn their bachelor’s degrees from the College.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

kunews@ku.edu | (785) 864-3256 | 1314 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045

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