UChicago announces recipients of 2023 Alumni Awards

Renowned composer Philip Glass, AB’56, honored with Alumni Medal

The University of Chicago Alumni Association and the Alumni Board have announced the recipients of the 2023 Alumni Awards.

The awards include the Alumni Medal, which recognizes outstanding achievement in any field, vocational or voluntary, covering an entire career. This year’s winner is Philip Glass, AB’56.

The Professional Achievement Award recipients are accomplished people in any professional field. These alumni’s achievements have brought distinction to themselves, credit to the University and benefit to their communities. The Early Career Achievement Award winners demonstrate outstanding achievements in any field by alumni ages 40 and younger.

The Alumni Service Awards and Alumni Service Medal recognize the achievements of individuals working on behalf of the University through service in alumni programs, on advisory committees and through efforts made to ensure the welfare of the institution. The Young Alumni Service Awards acknowledge and encourage service to the University by alumni ages 35 and younger.

The Alumni Board also recognized Frederick de Armas and David Strauss as winners of the Norman Maclean Faculty Award.

Learn more about this year’s winners below:

Alumni Medal

Philip Glass, AB’56

Through his operas, symphonies, compositions, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists including Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times. His operas play throughout the world’s leading houses. He has written music for experimental theater and for Academy-Award–winning motion pictures. His associations with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s. Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, film and popular music simultaneously.

He studied at the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. He then moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble. He received the Praemium Imperiale in 2012, the US National Medal of the Arts from President Barack Obama in 2016 and the 41st Kennedy Center Honors in 2018.

Professional Achievement Award

Leslie N. Bluhm, JD’89

Leslie Bluhm is a social entrepreneur who empowers people to tackle challenges through collaborative action. In 1991, Bluhm co-founded Chicago Cares, the city’s leading volunteer service organization, to harness people power to meet critical community needs while fostering connection between diverse Chicagoans through the service experience.

Bluhm was appointed by President Joe Biden—and confirmed by the U.S. Senate—to serve on the board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service (also known as AmeriCorps), the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. Bluhm was named one of six Chicagoans of the year by Chicago magazine and has been on Crain’s 40 under 40. She serves on the board of directors of Chicago Cares, the Chicago Community Trust, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, OneGoal, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Shining Hope for Communities. She also serves on the board of directors of Rush Street Interactive, Inc.

Eugene Narmour, PhD’74

Eugene Narmour is one of the world’s leading music theorists, changing the landscape of the discipline significantly over the course of his career. He developed the first rigorous theory of melody, which cognitive psychologists have empirically affirmed through extensive research. Narmour’s publications have been a driving topic for music theory conferences, have been translated into many languages, and have greatly influenced his students and colleagues around the world.

In 1967 he entered the University of Chicago, where he worked closely with Leonard Meyer while conducting the University Orchestra. In 1971 he began a long tenure at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he retired in 2007 as Edmund J. Kahn Distinguished Professor Emeritus. He was an associate editor of Music Perception, and president of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. His 24 published articles cover a wide range of topics in music theory. Some of this work has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, French, and Spanish.

Ken Ono, AB’89

Ken Ono is a mathematician at the University of Virginia, where he is the STEM Advisor to the Provost, fellow of the Shannon Center for Advanced Studies, and the Marvin Rosenblum Professor of Mathematics. He is well known for his research in mathematics, specializing in algebra, combinatorics, and number theory.

Ono has received many awards for his research, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship and a Sloan Fellowship. In a ceremony at the White House in 2000, Bill Clinton awarded Ono a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering. In 2005 he was named the National Science Foundation’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar, the foundation’s highest honor for excellence in teaching and research. He is a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. His professional service has included leadership roles in various professional organizations, such as vice president of the American Mathematical Society and chair of the Mathematics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the founder and director of the Spirit of Ramanujan STEM Talent Initiative, which supports emerging engineers, mathematicians, and scientists who lack traditional institutional support through financial grants and mentorship opportunities.

Amanda Williams, LAB’92

Amanda Williams is a visual artist who trained as an architect. Her creative practice employs color as an operative means for drawing attention to the complex ways race informs how we assign value to the spaces we occupy. Williams’s installations, sculptures, paintings and works on paper seek to inspire new ways of looking at the familiar and, in the process, raise questions about the inequitable state of urban space and ownership in America.

Her breakthrough series Color(ed) Theory, a set of condemned South Side of Chicago houses painted in a monochrome palette derived from racially and culturally codified color associations, has been named by the New York Times one of the 25 most significant works of postwar architecture in the world. Her ongoing series What Black Is This You Say? is a multi-platform project that explores the wide range of meanings and conceptual colors that connote Blackness. Her work is in several permanent collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian. Her accolades are many; she was most recently named a 2022 MacArthur Fellow.

Early Career Achievement Award

Arnav Dalmia, AB’13

Arnav Dalmia is the co-founder of Cubii, a startup that is passionate about making wellness approachable for all ages, abilities and lifestyles. Cubii was included in Inc. 500’s Fastest Growing Companies in the USA for two consecutive years (2019 and 2020) and in Deloitte’s Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the US (2020), and it was ranked second in Inc. Magazine’s Top Fastest Growing Companies in Chicago (2020). In 2020 Cubii partnered with Gridiron, a private equity firm, to further scale and grow the business.

For his entrepreneurial pursuits, Dalmia was recently included in Crain’s 40 under 40 list and received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from Ernst & Young in 2020. To recognize the global impact of his work, President Bill Clinton inducted Dalmia into the Alumni Honor Roll, a prestigious group of change makers supported by the Clinton Foundation.

Naftali Harris, AB’12

Naftali Harris is the co-founder and CEO of SentiLink, which stops identity fraud for banks, lenders and financial institutions in the United States. A leading voice in his field, Harris and his team have been the first to call attention to novel forms of fraud including synthetic fraud, piggybacking and credit washing.

SentiLink’s products detect identity theft as well as new attack vectors like synthetic fraud, in which fraudsters make up fictitious people and use them to steal money and commit other financial crimes. SentiLink serves more than 200 financial institutions, verifies more than a million identities a day and has raised more than $85 million in funding. Prior to SentiLink, Harris was the first data scientist at the online lender Affirm and built and led its risk decisioning team.

Shivani Jain, AB’13

Shivani Jain is the cofounder of Cubii, a health and wellness company focused on building effective fitness solutions that are approachable for people of all ages, abilities, and lifestyles. As the chief marketing officer at Cubii, she led brand strategy, consumer research and experience, marketing, and direct-to-consumer sales for eight years.

Jain is passionate about building, supporting and investing in mission-driven consumer brands. Past recognition includes Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Female Founders, Business Insider’s Top 8 Women under 30, Crain’s Chicago Business’s Top 20 in their 20s, and Entrepreneur of the Year (Midwest), 2020.

Zeba Khan, AB’03, AM’03

Zeba Khan is the deputy editorial page editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. Prior to joining the paper, she was a 2018 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, where she explored how the lack of diversity in legacy media outlets impacts our democracy. Before that, she was the director of fellowships and a senior facilitator at the Op-Ed Project, a social venture committed to elevating the ideas and knowledge of underrepresented expert voices across public platforms.

Khan’s own writing, primarily on the intersection of Muslim identity with race and American politics, has been published in a variety of national and regional outlets, including CNN, TIME, The Mercury News, and The Root. Before beginning her opinion journalism career, Khan followed in her parents’ footsteps as a community organizer. In 2008 she founded Muslim-Americans for Obama, the only grassroots political organizing effort to mobilize Muslim-Americans in support of the Obama campaign.

Alumni Service Medal

Douglas Jackman, AB’89, MBA’95

Douglas Jackman began his volunteer service to the University even before his graduation from the College by chairing the Senior Class Gift of 1989. His leadership was recognized at graduation with the Howell Murray Award. As a young alum working in New York, he was active in the New York Alumni Club, serving on the New York Centennial Dinner Board and interviewing prospective students for the College Admissions office.

Jackman served on the Visiting Committee to the College (now called the College Advisory Council) for two terms. In 1995, he was elected to the University’s Alumni Board of Governors and served six years on that board, including serving as an officer and chairing the board’s Nominating Committee. He continued to work on board initiatives as a founding sponsor of the Externship Project, which offered undergraduate students a chance to shadow alumni in various professions. He was also actively involved in the Metcalf Internship Program from its inception 25-plus years ago. He served on the inaugural committee to select the first class of the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.

Alumni Service Award

Eddie Lau, AB’02

Eddie Lau has served the alumni community since 2005, spearheading over 65 local alumni events, developing infrastructure to improve volunteer recruitment and connectivity, and embodying and inspiring a culture of working effectively and extensively with University stakeholders from the Yuen Campus to Hyde Park. Lau was elected president of the UChicago Alumni Club of Hong Kong in 2014. Under his leadership, the volunteer-led organization received the 2018 Alumni Club of the Year Award. Lau also contributed to the University’s academic, admissions, and career advancement developments in China as a council member of the Greater China Career Advancement Regional Council and an organizing member of Chicago Economics Society.

Lau is the chief executive officer and executive director of Arta TechFin Corporation Limited, a Hong Kong–listed company offering regulated traditional and blockchain-based financial services. Prior to his technology career, Lau had over 20 years of experience in capital markets, investment management, and corporate management with global investment banks and asset managers in China and the United States.

Don Phillips, AM’86, CER’17

Don Phillips, a managing director with Morningstar, is an innovative ambassador and advocate for the University through his work on the Graham School Advisory Board, his participation in and promotion of alumni programs and student mentorship, and his generous philanthropic support. Committed to lifelong learning and the importance of a liberal arts education in the working world, Phillips partnered with the Graham School to shape a program of Basic School classes, which he then introduced to the Morningstar headquarters in Chicago. Three years later, the program remains an ongoing success.

Phillips originally joined Morningstar in 1986 as the company’s first mutual fund analyst and soon became editor of its flagship publication, Morningstar Mutual Funds, establishing the editorial voice for which the company is best known. Investment Advisor magazine named him to its list of the most influential people in the financial planning industry.

Young Alumni Service Award

Elizabeth Miller, AB’16

Elizabeth Miller is the president of the Chicago Women’s Alliance, an affinity group for University of Chicago alumni and friends. As a young alum who started her career at Morgan Stanley in New York City, she began her tenure on the CWA board as New York Metro Chair. Most recently, Miller has leveraged her leadership on the CWA board to support mentorship and professional growth for young women. She created the CWA Fellowship, a program that pairs 60 student fellows with alumni mentors and offers an eight-week, industry-specific workshop series on developing professional skills. She also started a philanthropic arm of the board, generating University funding for students to attend professional development conferences that offer career exposure to women in STEM. Miller supported student career development beyond her CWA leadership by serving as a panelist and moderator at the Taking the Next Step program for third-year students in the College.

Miller began her service to her class while still a student; her leadership was recognized at graduation with the Campus Life and Leadership Award. Since graduation, Miller has served as the gift co-chair for her class reunion, setting the record for raising the most of any 5th Reunion class in University history.