Alumni Award winners include musicians, volunteers and medical researchers

Janet Davison Rowley, the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, will receive the Alumni Medal — the Alumni Association’s highest honor — for her work in human genetics and cancer research, while 16 other distinguished alumni will be honored in a ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4 at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

The University’s Alumni Board of Governors invites all alumni, faculty, students, parents and friends to attend the event, which recognizes alumni and faculty members who have made exceptional contributions to society, UChicago and their professions.

Some of this year’s winners include Joel Smirnoff, EX’71, world-class violinist and conductor; Mahar K. Mangahas, PhD’70, who has made significant contributions to restore democracy in the Philippines; presidential speech writer Sidney Hyman, AB’36, AM’38; and Russian culture and library services advocate Marianna Tax Choldin, AB’62, AM’67, PhD’79.

The 2011 Alumni Award winners include:

Janet Davison Rowley, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, Alumni Medal

Rowley has made extraordinary contributions to landmark cancer discoveries that have changed the way in which researchers identify genes that cause fatal cancers. She is internationally renowned for her studies of chromosome abnormalities in human leukemia and lymphoma, which have led to cures for previously untreatable cancers and the development of targeted therapies. Rowley received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2009, and received the Lasker Award and the National Medal of Science in 1998. She continues to head an active laboratory that focuses on the connections between genetic changes and cancer, especially leukemia.

Chuck Schilke, AB’81, Alumni Service Medal

Schilke has shown transformative dedication and service to the University since his graduation. He has served on the reunion committees, the alumni club in D.C., the Alumni Board of Governors, Alumni Schools Committee, and perhaps most notably, worked to create Phoenixphest for young alumni.

Elaine Hanauer Ravich, AB’70, Alumni Service Award

Ravich has served UChicago for more than two decades, and her leadership is characterized in her dedication to the Baltimore Alumni Schools Committee, which she chaired for more than 20 years; her service as a founding member of the Baltimore Alumni Club; and her tenure as a member of the Alumni Board of Governors.

Norman Winarsky, AB’69, SM’70, PhD’74, Alumni Service Award

Winarsky’s efforts through the Physical Sciences Visiting Committee include spearheading initiatives and philanthropic support, which has increased graduate student aid and faculty resources, and recruitment of key faculty, which has benefited the departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Chemistry, and Mathematics.

Samuel Cohen Solal, AB’00, Young Alumni Service Award

Cohen Solal is an indispensable leader in the alumni club in Paris. His intense commitment and personal enthusiasm are credited with reviving the club and making it into a sustainable community that connects alumni and UChicago students studying abroad.

Koren Phillips, AB’05, Young Alumni Service Award

Phillips is a vital leader in the alumni club in Boston, and her dedicated efforts serve as a model for young alumni. These include leadership roles in Participate Chicago, her class reunion committee, the Alumni Schools Committee and Phoenixphest.

Marianna Tax Choldin, AB’62, AM’67, PhD’79, Public Service Award

Choldin has worked to improve library services in more than 70 countries, promoting new technology and especially freedom of information. She helped create exceptional services to promote Russian culture, and cultural and educational exchange between Russia and other countries (for which she was awarded the Pushkin Gold Medal).

Thomas W. Cole Jr., PhD’66, Public Service Award

Cole helped expand higher education to African Americans during a time of many barriers and increased the representation of minorities in the science, math and engineering fields. Cole presided over the historic consolidation of Atlanta University and Clark College in 1988 that created Clark Atlanta University, which became the largest of the UNCF institutions. He has been influential in his efforts to support community change through his involvement with the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, his work in supporting Boy Scouts in inner-city neighborhoods, and helping reform public education in Atlanta.

Mahar K. Mangahas, PhD’70, Public Service Award

Mangahas has promoted meaningful economic progress, social justice and civic engagement in the Philippines. Through his decades of research in public opinion and his analysis of social survey data, Mangahas has had a powerful influence in helping to define a nation’s identity and to restore democracy by demonstrating the public will. As president and cofounder of Social Weather Stations, Mangahas’s work, much of which was done under difficult political circumstances, has led to important public dialogue and policy changes for his nation.

Sidney Hyman, AB’36, AM’38, Professional Achievement Award

Hyman has provided great contributions to American public intellectual life as a presidential speechwriter, author and educator.

Alfred Lewy, SB’67, PhD’73, MD’73, Professional Achievement Award

Lewy is senior vice chair and the Richard H. Phillips Professor at Oregon Health & Science University. His lifelong behavioral and pharmacological research has resulted in a better understanding of the role of the pineal gland, the elucidation of Seasonal Affective Disorder and its treatment with light and melatonin, and the first bioassay of a behavioral disorder. His work has given psychiatry a new perspective on the physiology of sleep and mood disorders, which are also relevant to the problems of blind people, as well as individuals who must cope with the discomforts of shift work and jet lag.

Justin Yifu Lin, PhD’86, Professional Achievement Award

Lin is an influential and important economist who has contributed to the field of development economics. He is one of the first UChicago social science PhDs to return to China, introducing the ideas of market economics learned at the University. Lin founded the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University, and has given extensive lectures and written numerous articles and books on economic development. He is Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank — the first person from a developing country to hold this position.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, JD’67, Professional Achievement Award

Palmer has distinguished himself as a statesman not only in his native New Zealand, where he held important positions such as attorney general, minister of justice and prime minister, but also in global matters. He has served as an ad hoc judge in the International Court of Justice, chairman of a United Nations panel, president of the New Zealand Law Commission, and as the New Zealand commissioner on the International Whaling Commission.

Joel Smirnoff, EX’71, Professional Achievement Award

As a world-class violinist, conductor, teacher and leader, Smirnoff is a living legend who presently serves as president of the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has also served as chair of the Violin Department of The Juilliard School, as a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and as faculty and head of String Studies at Tanglewood. He was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award for his 23 years as member of the Juilliard String Quartet.

James Zagel, AB’62, AM’62, Professional Achievement Award

From serving as an influential advocate in the U.S. Supreme Court and drafter of legislation, to his service as director of the Illinois State Police, to his current role as one of the country’s most distinguished federal judges, Zagel has presided over some of Illinois’ most high-profile cases. He is renowned for his standard of excellence, not only from a legal standpoint, but also for his exceptional display of fairness, integrity and compassion in the courtroom.

Gregory Hillhouse, Norman Maclean Faculty Award

Former students nominated Hillhouse, a Professor of Chemistry in the Physical Sciences Division, for his outstanding teaching, mentoring and guidance of chemistry students for nearly three decades

George W. Stocking, Norman Maclean Faculty Award

Generations of students nominated Stocking, the Stein Freiler Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Anthropology in the Social Sciences Division, for his influence and encouragement of decades of students, his tireless efforts in advancing their careers, and for creating and supporting a community among them.