University communicators receive Circle of Excellence awards for collaborative projects

Communications efforts across the University of Chicago earned top awards this year from CASE, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. The organization gave honors in its Circle of Excellence annual competition to UChicago Arts, University Communications and Tableau, the magazine of the Division of the Humanities. 

The awards are for the following collaborative projects:

  • Envisioning China, produced by UChicago Arts, honored with a gold award in the category of multi-institution, collaborative programs
  • A Lifetime of Championing Civil Rights,” produced by University Communications, honored with a gold award for web writing, about 96-year-old alumnus Timuel Black
  • Tableau, the magazine of the Division of the Humanities, produced by Alumni Relations and Development Communications, honored with a silver award in the category of external audience newsletters


Envisioning China featured more than 40 events and exhibitions at the University of Chicago. It magnified the work of UChicago faculty, students and professional arts organizations and fostered collaboration with more than 20 Chicago- and China-based organizations. CASE judges wrote it was “a magnificent citywide partnership that involved dozens of organizations, schools, government entities and companies,” adding the festival “highlighted the academic strength and diversity of the University.”

Submitting the winning entry were Nora Semel; director of communications for Visitor Experience and the Arts; Mitch Marr, assistant director of Arts Communications; and Alida Miranda-Wolff, Communications intern. Other collaborators included Leigh Fagin and Josh Babcock, UChicago Arts; C.J. Lind, Smart Museum; Laurie Davis, News Office; Liz Fischer, Kristin Gecan, Rachel Julkowski, Vernon McCombs, Bob Reddy, Anthony Ruth and Jackie Todd, UChicago Creative.


“A Lifetime of Championing Civil Rights” was a UChicago homepage feature story about historian and civil rights activist Timuel Black, AM’54. The multimedia-rich feature traced Black’s activism in Chicago, triggered by the atrocities he confronted as a soldier during World War II. The CASE judges called it “a powerful story about a powerful alumnus. There was an abundance of information packed into a well-written, moving piece.”

The winning entry was submitted and written by Mike Drapa, web editor in the News Office. Contributing to the multimedia package were Jack Auses, Web Services; Jeremy Manier, News Office; and Rachel Julkowski, Robert Kozloff, Jackie Todd and Gerald Waddell, UChicago Creative.


Of Tableau, the Humanities’ biannual publication, the CASE judges wrote they “could hardly put down this stunning publication with its visually arresting presentation. The cover photos were nearly works of art themselves … Each issue delivers a wonderful portrait of the value of the humanities—and of the University of Chicago. This is a publication worth emulating in every aspect.”

Jeanie Chung prepared the entry. Other contributors were editor Elizabeth Station; designers Guido Mendez and Tom Tian; proofreader Laura Adamczyk; editorial director Amy Braverman Puma; executive editor Mary Ruth Yoe; advisory board Sarah Farrell, Carl Nash, and Adrianne Renberg; and writers Susie Allen, Jeanie Chung, Lydia Gibson, Carrie Golus, Courtney Guerra, and Tom Popelka.

This year, 629 higher education institutions, independent schools and nonprofits from around the world submitted more than 3,000 entries in 100 categories for consideration in the Circle of Excellence awards program.