KU News Release

April 1, 2011
Contact: Christie Appelhanz, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 785-864-3516

Influential liberal arts alumni to share how KU education shaped careers

LAWRENCE — Recipients of the 2010-11 Alumni Distinguished Achievement Awards will return to the University of Kansas campus Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9, to share 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 entertainment executive, the CEO of a Fortune global 500 company, a visionary environmentalist and a Nobel prize-winning economist.

During the annual Deans Club Banquet at 5:30 p.m. April 9 in the Kansas Union ballroom, Danny Anderson, dean of the College, will present awards to Mohammed Mark Amin, of Los Angeles, Calif.; Cynthia Carroll, of London; and Wes Jackson, of Salina. Vernon Smith, of Orange, 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.

Cynthia Carroll

Vernon Smith

Wes Jackson

Mohammed “Mark” Amin

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

Founder of the Land Institute, Jackson will discuss his work at 2 p.m. Friday, April 8, at Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union. His Salina-based nonprofit research, education and policy organization is dedicated to developing an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops. The lecture, titled “Will the Wheat Wave for Future Generations?,” is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program.

Amin, an entertainment executive and producer, will host a screening of the film “Peaceful Warrior” at 7 p.m. Friday, April 8, in 100 Oldfather Studios. He will introduce the moving tale about the power of the human spirit and provide a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the movie. A Q&A will follow the screening. The event is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Department of Film and Media Studies.

Brief biographies of award recipients are below.

Mark Amin has earned credit in more than 50 feature films ranging from low-budget independents to television films to major studio productions as vice chairman of Lionsgate Entertainment and CEO of Sobini Films. He founded what became Trimark, which later merged with Lionsgate Entertainment. Under Amin’s leadership, Trimark Holdings Inc. developed into one of the entertainment industry’s leading publicly traded, independent production and distribution companies. His film credits as executive producer included “Eve’s Bayou,” and he spearheaded the acquisition and distribution of “Swimming with Sharks,” starring Kevin Spacey and Frank Whaley.

In 2002, Mark executive produced “Frida” with Miramax Films, which garnered six Academy Award nominations. Sobini Films has produced independent films including “The Prince and Me” (2004), starring Julia Stiles and “Peaceful Warrior” (2006), starring Nick Nolte. Current films in production include “Hemingway and Fuentes” (2010). He established the Mark Amin Scholarship in Film for Iranian students within KU’s Department of Film and Media Studies. Amin earned his undergraduate degree in economics from KU in 1972 and an MBA from the University of California-Los Angeles.

Cynthia Carroll has been named the fourth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes for her work as CEO of Anglo American plc, a global mining group and FTSE 20 company headquartered in London. Cynthia joined Anglo American in 2006 and has led a strategic and organizational transformation at the group, which is a leader in the global mining industry with interests in platinum, diamonds, copper, nickel, coal and iron ore. Prior to joining Anglo American, Carroll spent 18 years at Alcan Inc., including five years as president and CEO of the Primary Metal Group. Carroll is a geologist by training and began her career working for Amoco as a petroleum geologist in oil exploration based in Denver, Colo. She is a nonexecutive director of BP plc and is a member of BP’s Safety, Ethics and Environmental Assurance Committee of the Board. She is also the chairman of Anglo Platinum Limited and a nonexecutive director of De Beers. Carroll is on the board of the UK NSPCC Stop Organised Abuse and is a fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. She is also a member of the American Society of Corporate Executives. Cynthia graduated from Skidmore College with a bachelor’s in geology and earned a master’s in geology from KU in 1982 and an MBA from Harvard University.

Wes Jackson is a visionary environmentalist who serves as president of the Land Institute, a Salina-based nonprofit research, education and policy organization dedicated to developing an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops. He resigned a professorship with tenure at California State University-Sacramento, where he established and chaired one of the first environmental studies programs in the United States to found the Land Institute in 1976. Among the many honors for his work’s impact on the future of agriculture and environmental sustainability, he has been named a Pew Scholar and a MacArthur Fellow and received the Right Livelihood Award. His books include “Man and the Environment,” “New Roots for Agriculture,” “Meeting the Expectations of the Land,” “Altars of Unhewn Stone” and “Becoming Native to This Place.” Life magazine named Jackson one of the individuals it predicts will be “important Americans of the 20th century.” He was named one of Smithsonian magazine’s “35 who made a difference” in November 2005. Jackson earned a bachelor’s in botany from Kansas Wesleyan, a master’s in biology from KU in 1960 and a doctorate in genetics from North Carolina State University.

Vernon L. Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his groundbreaking work in experimental economics. He has joint appointments with the Argyros School of Business and Economics and the School of Law at Chapman University, is a research scholar at George Mason University Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and serves as a fellow of the Mercatus Center. He is the founder and president of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Smith has written or co-written more than 250 articles and books on capital theory, finance, natural resource economics and experimental economics. Previous faculty appointments include the University of Arizona, Purdue University, Brown University, the University of Massachusetts and George Mason University. Smith completed his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, his master's degree in economics at KU in 1954 and his doctorate in economics at Harvard University.

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.

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