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Distinguished Alumni

Our graduates' careers demonstrate the endless possibilities of a degree in the liberal arts and sciences. To recognize the most significant among our alumni's many achievements, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences honors a few select graduates each year with the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. It is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni of the College.

The award recognizes our graduates' outstanding contributions to KU, their professions or their communities in a wide range of disciplines, including the arts, public service, business, academia and more.

2018-2019

Rob Riggle
Marine veteran, comedian

Rob RiggleRob Riggle has forged two distinct and notable careers since graduating from KU in 1992 with a B.A. in theatre and film. Following a career with the United States Marine Corps during which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Riggle has become well-known in comedic films and television. Riggle is familiar to filmgoers and TV fans alike for comedic roles in films such as “The Hangover” and “Step Brothers,” as well as his stints on “Saturday Night Live” and as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” His most recent film appearance is in “Night School” with Kevin Hart, which was released this fall. On the small screen, Riggle created and stars in “Rob Riggle’s Ski Master Academy,” available on Sony Crackle. For his voice-over talents, he earned a 2012 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for Disney’s “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice.” Riggle is also known for his philanthropic efforts and as an enthusiastic fan of KU.


2017-2018

Lewis
Delano Lewis
Diplomat, executive
Political science and history, 1960

2015-2016

Levinson
Anne Levinson
Judge, civic leader
Political Science, 1980
Garlinghouse
Brad Garlinghouse
Tech executive
Economics, 1994
Rooney
Dan Rooney
Philanthropist
Geography, 1996

2014-15

Levinson
Edgar Heap of Birds
Multidisciplinary artist
Painting, 1976
Lee
Sharon Lee
Physician
Psychology, 1974
Fisher
William Fisher
Geology professor
Geology, 1958, 1961

2012-13

Pascoe
B. Lynn Pascoe
Diplomat
East Asian Languages and Cultures, Math, 1964
Pascoe
Charles Boyd
Retired four-star general of the U.S. Air Force
Latin American Studies, 1975, 1976
Martin
Chris Martin
Visual effects
Film & Media Studies, 2003
Martin
John Gurche
Paleo-artist
Geology,1974
Anthropology, 1979
Martin
Rosemarie Truglio
Sesame Workshop executive
Applied Behavioral Science, 1986
Developmental & Child Psychology, 1990

2011-12

Manuel Santos
Juan Manuel Santos
President of the Republic of Colombia
Economics, 1973
Prather
Marla Prather
Art Curator
French, Art History, 1978
Art History, 1981
Spivak
Marla Spivak
Entomology researcher
Biology, 1989
Kipp
Robert Kipp
Executive
Public Administration, 1956

2010-11

Carroll
Cynthia Carroll
Business executive
Geology, 1982
Amin
Mark Amin
Film producer
Economics, 1972
Smith
Vernon L. Smith
Economist
Economics, 1952
Jackson
Wes Jackson
Environmentalist
Biology, 1960

2009-10

Hamilton
Ann Hamilton
Visual artist
Visual Art, 1979
James
George William James
Baseball statistician
English, 1973
English, 1975
Sebelius
Kathleen Sebelius
Former governor of Kansas
Public Administration, 1980
Mills
Steve Mills
Television producer
1951

2008-09

Tacha
Deanell Reece Tacha
Federal judge
American Studies, 1968
Davis
Jacqueline Z. Davis
Performing arts executive
French, 1973
Hill
Robert Hill
Biochemistry researcher
Chemistry, 1949, 1951, 1954
Bair
Sheila Bair
Economist
Philosophy, 1975

2007-08

Sheldon
George Sheldon
Surgeon
History, 1957
Gunn
James Gunn
Science fiction author
English, 1951
Dawson
Mary Dawson
Paleontologist
Biology, 1957
Rudkin
Thomas Rudkin
PowerPoint software engineer
Math, 1973

2006-07

Fairchild
B.H. "Pete" Fairchild
Poet
Scott
Randy Scott
Biotechnology inventor
Biology, 1984
O'Leary
Rosemary O'Leary
Public management and policy researcher
English, 1978
Public Administration, 1982
Hawley
Steven Hawley
Astronaut
Physics, 1973
Hawley
Thomas G. Burish
Provost
Psychology, 1975, 1976

2005-06

Oswald
Charley Oswald
Businessman
1951
Hillis
David M. Hillis
Molecular systematics researcher
Biology, 1983, 1984,1985
Hoglund
Sally Hoglund
Public service advocate
Political Science, 1956
Paretsky
Sara Paretsky
Crime fiction author
Political Science, 1967

2004-05

Broun
Elizabeth Broun
Art museum director
Art History, 1968, 1969, 1976
Sick
Gary Sick
Middle East affairs analyst
French, 1957
Johnson
Irving Johnson (1925-2014)
Pharmaceutical researcher
Biology, 1953
Robe
Mike Robe
Television writer-director-producer
1966, 1968

2003-04

Heckathorn
Douglas D. Heckathorn
Sociology researcher
Psychology, Sociology, 1969
Sociology, 1972, 1974
Reilly Jr.
Edward F. Reilly Jr.
Chairman of the United States Parole Commission
Political Science, 1961
Keim
Paul S. Keim
Infectious disease researcher
Biology, 1981
Jones
Terrence D. Jones
Performing arts executive
Language Arts 1970
Theatre, 1972

2002-03

Docking
Jill Docking
Financial executive
History, 1978
Ehrlich
Paul R. Ehrlich
Biology researcher
Biology, 1955, 1957

2001-02

Quadagno
Jill Quadagno
Gerontology scholar
Sociology, 1975, 1976

2000-01

Six
Fred N. Six
Kansas Supreme Court Justice
1951

1999-2000

Hesser
James E. Hesser
Astronomy researcher
Astronomy, 1963

1998-99

Peterson
Martha Peterson
Higher education administrator
Math, 1937, 1943

1997-98

McClure II
Arthur F. McClure II
Historian
History, 1958, 1966

1996-97

Toland
Clyde W. Toland
Attorney
History, 1969
Kassebaum Baker
Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker
Senator
1954