Alumni Achievement Award (Est. 1957)

The highest honor bestowed upon alumni by the Illinois Alumni Association on behalf of the University of Illinois. The award is presented to those alumni who have attained outstanding success and national or international distinction in their chosen profession or life’s work, and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on or bring honor to their Alma Mater.

2018 Recipients

  • Robert H. Liebeck, ’61 ENG, MS ’62 ENG, PHD ’68 ENG

    Robert H. Liebeck’s trailblazing career in aerodynamics has touched air, land and sea. A senior technical fellow and chief scientist for Boeing, he has led several classified, advanced-concept aircraft programs that resulted in successful flight vehicles. As a consultant, Liebeck has designed America’s Cup-winning yachts, NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow,” and wings for Formula One racing cars.

    A member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Royal Aeronautical Society, Liebeck has earned worldwide recognition for his work in aerodynamics. Notable honors include the General Charles E. Yeager Award for Aeronautical Innovation and the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences’ Award for Innovation in Aeronautics. Liebeck has shared his expertise with the next-generation of engineers as well, teaching courses in aerodynamics, flight mechanics and airplane design at such universities as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California, Irvine.

    A resident of Irvine, Calif., Liebeck received the University of Illinois College of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996 and was inducted into the College’s Engineering Hall of Fame in 2011. He endowed the Dept. of Aerospace’s first professorship in 2014, in honor of his mentor, Professor Allen Ormsbee.

  • James A. Spudich, ’63 LAS

    The Douglass M. and Nola Leishman Professor of Cardiovascular Disease at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, James Spudich is one of the world’s most respected biochemists. A former Guggenheim Fellow, he has conducted groundbreaking research on molecular motors and is credited with advancing the field of single-molecule biology. Spudich also has developed novel therapeutics ranging from medications to improve muscle function for ALS patients to others treating rare, genetically based cardiovascular diseases.

    A member of the Stanford faculty since 1977, Spudich served as founding director of that university’s pioneering Bio-X program. The interdisciplinary effort, which includes researchers from the fields of physics, biology, chemistry, engineering, computational sciences and the clinical sciences, aims to create new knowledge of biological systems.

    A widely sought-after speaker, Spudich has shared his innovative research with audiences around the globe. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    A native of Benld, Ill., Spudich earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry while working under Woody Hastings, a renowned University of Illinois biochemistry professor. Spudich received the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Alumni Achievement Award in 2016.

Past Recipients

  • 2017

    • William F. Baker, MS ’80 ENG

      Structural Engineering Design Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
    • Stephen J. Elledge, ’78 LAS

      World renowned geneticist and cancer researcher
  • 2016

    • Mary-Dell Chilton, ’60 LAS, PHD ’67 LAS

  • 2015

    • Nick Holonyak Jr., ’50 ENG, MS ’51 ENG, PHD ’54 ENG

      Retired Professor of Electrical Engineering
    • Sylvia Puente, MS ’80 LAS

      Executive director of the Latino Policy Forum in Chicago
    • Don B. Wilmeth, PHD ’64 LAS

      Asa Messer Professor Emeritus & former Department head of Theatre at Brown University
  • 2014

    • George R. Carruthers, ’61 ENG, MS ’62 ENG, PHD ’64 ENG

      Senior Astrophysicist, Naval Research Laboratory
    • Fred R. Volkmar, ’72 LAS

      Irving B. Harris Professor, Yale University
    • Donald R. Scifres, MS ’70 ENG, PHD ’72 ENG

      Founder and Managing Director, SDL Ventures LLC
  • 2013

    • Thomas Siebel, ’75 LAS, MBA ’83, MS ’85 ENG

      Chairman and CEO, C3 Energy
    • William Edelstein, ’65 LAS

      Retired General Electric Researcher
  • 2012

    • Bradley Oltmanns, PHD ’79 BUS

      Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd.
    • Shahid Khan, ’71 ENG

      President, Flex-N-Gate
  • 2011

    • Brenton Wadsworth, ’52 FAA

      Founder, The Wadsworth Golf Construction Co.
    • Fu-Kuen Lin, PHD ’71 ACES

      Consultant, Amgen
    • Scott W. Atlas, ’77 LAS

      Chief of neuroradiology and professor of radiology, Stanford University Medical Center
  • 2010

    • Roger L. Plummer, ’64 ENG

      Operations Vice President, Illinois Bell
    • Mohamed T. El-Ashry, MS ’63 LAS, PHD ’66 LAS

      Geology scholar and former adviser to Environmental Defense Fund
    • James M. Benson, ’68 LAS

      CEO, Clark Benson LLC
  • 2009

    • Gerald Schoenfeld, ’47 DSSWV

      Chairman, Schubert Organization
    • William E. Geist, ’68 MEDIA

      Correspondent, CBS “Sunday Morning”; author, humorist
  • 2008

    • Sheila C. Johnson, ’70 FAA

      CEO, Salamander Hospitality LLC; Musician, Philanthropist
    • Freeman A. Hrabowski III, AM ’71 LAS, PHD ’75 ED

      President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    • Doris Kelley Christopher, ’67 ACES

      Founder & Chair, The Pampered Chef
  • 2007

    • Dr. Arnyce R. Pock, ’81 LAS

      Director, United States Air Force Medical Corps
    • R. Eden Martin, ’62 LAS

      President, The Commercial Club of Chicago
    • Phillip L. Francis, ’68 ACES

      President & CEO, PetSmart
  • 2006

    • John McDonald, ’43 LAS, JD ’46 LAW

      Retired Diplomat and Co-Founder of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy
    • Susan Lindquist, ’71 LAS

      Director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Roger Ebert, ’64 MEDIA

      Film Critic, Author and TV Personality
  • 2005

    • James J. Stukel, MS '63 ENG, PHD '68 ENG

      President, University of Illinois (1995-2005)
    • Alfred G. Harms Jr., '71 LAS

      Retired Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy
    • Roxanne Decyk, '73 LAS

      Director-International, Royal Dutch Shell Group of Companies
  • 2004

    • Clifford B. Saper, '72 LAS, MS '72 LAS

      Groundbreaking Neuroscience Researcher
    • Robert T. Fraley, '74 LAS, MS '76 LAS, PHD '79 LAS

      Agricultural Biotechnology Pioneer
    • Robert Falls, '76 FAA

      Tony Award Winning Broadway Director, Artistic Director, Goodman Theatre
  • 2003

    • Phillip Allen Sharp, PHD '69 LAS

      Founding Director and Institute Professor McGovern Institute for Brain Research Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • Paul D. Schrage, MS '59 MEDIA

      Retired Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer McDonald's Corporation Chairman, Ronald McDonald House Charities
    • Robert Badgett Morgan, PHD '74 FAA

      Retired Director of Jazz Studies High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Houston, Texas
  • 2002

    • Sophie Lau Leung, '69 LAS

      Chair, Women's Commission Legislative Council of Hong Kong
    • Steven L. Miller, '67 ENG

      Chairman, President and CEO Shell Oil Co.
    • Jerry A. Hadley, MS '77 FAA

      Grammy Award-Winning and Internationally Renowned Opera Singer
  • 2001

    • Walter L. Robb, MS '49 ENG, PHD '51 ENG

      Senior Vice President for Corporate Research and Development General Electric Co.
    • Charles William Gear, MS '57 LAS, PHD '60 LAS

      President Computer Science Research Division at the NEC Research Institute
  • 2000

    • Sheldon Good, '55 CBA

      Founder and Chairman Sheldon Good & Company President International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI)
    • Alfred Y. Cho, '60 ENG, MS '61 ENG, PHD '68 ENG

      Semiconductor Research Vice President Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies Father of Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE)
    • Linda K. Bunker, '68 ALS, MS '69, PHD '73

      Nationally Renowned Sport Psychologist and Author
  • 1999

    • Joseph H. Burckhalter, '38 LAS

      Research Professor, Chemist Florida Institute of Technology
  • 1998

    • R. Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, PHD '69 LAS

      Author Professor of English and Creative Writing The University of Texas at Austin
    • Archie R. Clemins, '66, ENG, MS '72 ENG

      Admiral, U. S. Navy Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
    • Gary K. Bielfeldt, '58, ACES, MS '59 ACES

      ACES Managing Partner, Bielfeldt and Company Chairman, The Bielfeldt Foundation
  • 1997

    • Robert D. Novak, AB '52 LAS

      Newspaper Columnist, Television Commentator, Author Washington, D.C.
    • Leo M. Henikoff, Jr., MD '63 MED (UIC)

      President, Rush University President and Chief Executive Officer Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center Pediatric Cardiologist
    • John A. Georges, '51 LAS

      Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer International Paper Company
    • Jerry J. Colangelo, '62 ALS

      Owner, Phoenix Suns (National Basketball Association) Owner, Arizona Diamondbacks (Major League Baseball Team)
  • 1996

    • Cesar Pelli, '54 ARCH

      Architect, Designer, and Distinguished Architectural Educator Cesar Pelli & Associates
    • H. Richard McFarland, '52 ACES

      Businessman, Philanthropist, Patriot President and Owner McFarland Foods Corporation
    • Mannie L. Jackson, '60 ALS

      Chairman and Owner, Harlem Globetrotters Retired Senior Vice President and Corporate Officer Honeywell, Inc.
  • 1995

    • Edwin G. Krebs, AB '40 LAS

      Professor Emeritus, University of Washington Senior Investigator Emeritus Howard Hughes Medical Institute Nobel Prize Winner
    • Donald C. Johanson, AB '66 LAS

      Physical Anthropologist President, Institute of Human Origins
    • Nancy Goodman Brinker, AB '68 LAS

      Founding Chairman The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
  • 1994

    • Richard Cline, AB '57 LAS

      Chairman and Chief Executive Officer NICOR Inc.
    • Steven B. Sample, '62 ENG, MS '63 ENG, PHD '65 ENG

      Educator, Inventor, Administrator President, University of Southern California
    • David H. Blackwell, AB '38 LAS, AM '39 LAS, PHD '41 LAS

      Statistician, Educator, Author University of California, Berkeley Member, National Academy of Sciences
  • 1993

    • Lynn Morley Martin, AB '60 LAS

      Congresswoman, Teacher Former Secretary of Labor
    • George M.C. Fisher, '62 ENG

      Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Motorola
    • Albert Leslie Babb, MS '49 LAS, PHD '51 LAS

      Chemical Engineer, Biomedical Engineer, Humanitarian Designer of the First Portable Kidney Dialysis Machine
  • 1992

    • Dennis D. Swanson, '61 MEDIA, MS '66 MEDIA

      President ABC Sports, Daytime and Children's Programming New York
    • Steven R. Nagel, '69 AAE

      Colonel, U. S. Air Force NASA Astronaut
    • Richard H. Frank, '65 CBA

      President Walt Disney Studios
  • 1991

    • Samuel K. Skinner, '60 CBA

      United States Secretary of Transportation
    • John F. Burke, '47 LAS

      Surgeon, Scientist and Educator Harvard University Medical School
    • James S. Brady, '62 MEDIA

      Vice Chairman National Organization on Disability, Washington, D.C. Former Press Secretary for President Ronald Reagan
  • 1990

    • B. Kenneth West, AB '55 LAS

      Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Harris Bankcorp, Inc.
    • Arnold R. Weber, AB '50 LAS, AM '51 LAS

      President Northwestern University
    • Charles Marshall, '51 ACES

      Vice Chairman of the Board American Telephone and Telegraph Co.
  • 1989

    • Sybil C. Mobley, PHD '64 CBA

      Dean, School of Business and Industry Florida A & M University
    • David F. Linowes, '41 CBA

      Educator, Political Economist, CPA Consultant to U.S. Presidents Professor of Political Economy and Boeschenstein Professor Emeritus University of Illinois
    • David Herbert Donald, AM '42 LAS, PHD '46 LAS

      Distinguished Civil War Historian Pulitzer Prize Winning Biographer Charles Warren Professor, Harvard University
  • 1988

    • Charlotte Herman Kerr, '40 ACES '46 MED, MD '48 MED

      President American Medical Women's Association
    • Richard E. Heckert, MS '47 LAS, PHD '49 LAS

      Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Du Pont Company
    • Sidney D. Drell, AM '47 PHYSICS, PHD '49 PHYSICS, HON. '81

      Physicist, Educator, Arms Control Specialist, Professor and Deputy Director Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
  • 1987

    • Robert C. Underwood, JD '39 LAW

      Justice, Illinois Supreme Court (Deceased)
    • Godfrey Sperling, Jr., '37 MEDIA

      Chief, Washington News Bureau Christian Science Monitor
    • Jerome S. Gore, '41 CBA

      Chairman Hartmarx Corporation
  • 1986

    • Prentice H. Marshall, '49 LAS, JD '51 LAW

      Judge, United States District Court Northern District of Illinois
    • Karl A. Folkers, '28 LAS

      Director, Institute of Biomedical Research Ashbel Smith Professor of Chemistry, University of Texas at Austin (Deceased)
    • Helene R. Foellinger, AB '32 LAS

      President of Foellinger Foundation Former publisher, News-Sentinel Fort Wayne, Indiana (Deceased)
  • 1985

    • Alfred B. Swanson, '45 MED, MD '47 MED

      Physician, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Teacher
    • James R. Martin, '40 LAS

      Chairman of the Board Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins. Company (Deceased)
    • Alan M. Hallene, '51 ENG

      President Montgomery Elevator Company
  • 1984

    • Julia Henderson, AB '36 LAS, AM '37 LAS

      Former Secretary General International Planned Parenthood Federation
    • Harold R. Bruno, Jr., '50 MEDIA

      Director of Political Coverage ABC News
    • Richard E. Albrecht, '40 ACES

      Former President Farm Progress Publications (Deceased)
  • 1983

    • Wilma L. Vaught, '52 CBA

      Brigadier General, U.S. Air Force Commander, U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command
    • John L. Strohm, '35 MEDIA

      Editor, Publisher, Foreign Correspondent, Founder, National Wildlife Magazine (Deceased)
    • Dorothy Martin Simon, PHD '45 LAS

      Vice President, Research AVCO Corporation
  • 1982

    • Julius B. Richmond, '37 MED, MS '39 MED, MD MED

      Professor, Harvard Medical School Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General U.S.P.H.S. 1977-81
    • Eugene P. Odum, PHD '39 ZOOLOGY

      Distinguished Professor and Director Institute of Ecology University of Georgia
    • Helen 0. Dickens, '32 MED, MD '34 MED

      Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology University of Pennsylvania
  • 1981

    • Mark Shepherd, Jr., MS '47 ENG

      Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Texas Instruments, Inc.
    • Mostafa Khalil, MS '48 ENG, PHD '51 ENG

      Former Prime Minister of Egypt
    • Earl B. Dickerson, AB '14 LAS

      Honorary Chairman of the Board Supreme Life Insurance Co. of America (Deceased)
  • 1980

    • Gardner W. Heidrick, '35 CBA

      Co-founder, Heidrick and Struggles, Inc. International Recruiter, Organization Builder, Industry Leader
    • Harry J. Gray, '41 MEDIA, MS '47 MEDIA

      Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, United Technologies Corporation
    • Lew Allen, Jr., '52 PHYSICS, PHD '54 PHYSICS

      Chief of Staff United States Air Force
  • 1979

    • J. Robert Schrieffer, MS '54 PHYSICS, PHD '57 PHYSICS

      Professor of Physics University of Pennsylvania
    • Everette B. Harris, AB '35 LAS

      President Emeritus Chicago Mercantile Exchange (Deceased)
    • Rowine Hayes Brown, MD '39 MED

      Medical Director Cook County Hospital (Deceased)
  • 1978

    • Rosalyn S. Yalow, MS '42 PHYSICS, PHD '45 PHYSICS

      Senior Medical Investigator Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital Nobel Prize Winner
    • Lee L. Morgan, '41 ACES

      Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Caterpillar Tractor Company
    • Gayle B. Aydelott, '36 CBA

      President & Chairman Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (Deceased)
  • 1977

    • George W. English, '21 CBA

      Attorney, Bank Executive Community Builder (Deceased)
    • Kenneth 0. Emery, '37 GEOLOGY, PHD '41 GEOLOGY

      Marine Geologist, Senior Scientist Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Deceased)
    • Temple Hoyne Buell, '16 ARCH

      Architect, Founder, Chief Executive Officer Buell Development Corporation (Deceased)
  • 1976

    • Thomas A. Murphy, '38 CBA

      Chairman, General Motors Corporation
    • Carl S. Marvel, AM '19 LAS, PHD '20

      Professor of Chemistry University of Arizona (Deceased)
    • Arthur W. Sloan, '22 LAS

      Founder, President Atlantic Research Corporation (Deceased)
  • 1975

    • W. Leonard Evans, Jr., '35 CBA

      President and Publisher Tuesday Publications, Inc.
    • Clayton Kirkpatrick, AB '37 LAS

      Editor, Chicago Tribune
    • Polykarp Kusch, MS '33 PHYSICS, PHD '36 PHYSICS

      Professor of Physics The University of Texas at Dallas Nobel Prize Winner (Deceased)
  • 1974

    • Robert W. Holley, '42 LAS

      Professor of Molecular Biology, The Salk Institute. (Deceased)
    • Roy J. Carver, '34 ENG

      Founder and Chairman, Bandag, Inc. (Deceased)
    • Walter P. Blount, AB '21 LAS, BS '23 MED

      Physician, Surgeon and Teacher (Deceased)
  • 1973

    • William L. Pereira, '30 ARCH

      Architect, Planner, William L. Pereira Associates (Deceased)
    • William A. Marsteller, '37 MEDIA

      Charman of the Board, Marsteller, Inc. (Deceased)
    • Jack S. Kilby, '47 ENG

      Inventor, Engineer, Dallas, Texas
  • 1972

    • George H. Lesch, '31 CBA

      Chairman of the Board, Colgate-Palmolive Company (Deceased)
    • Philip Handler, PHD '39 LAS

      President, National Academy of Sciences (Deceased)
    • Barton A. Cummings, '35 MEDIA

      Chairman, Executive Committee, Compton Advertising, Inc. (Deceased)
  • 1971

    • Milton C. Mumford, AB '35 LAS

      Chairman of the Board Lever Brothers Company (Deceased)
    • Fred H. Turner, AB '22 LAS, AM '29 PSY, PHD '31 EDU

      Dean of Students, Emeritus University of Illinois (Deceased)
    • Ralph A. Connor, '29 LAS

      Chairman, Executive Committee, Rohm and Haas Company (Deceased)
  • 1970

    • John W. Queenan, '27 CBA

      Managing Partner, Haskins and Sells (Deceased)
    • Charles Luckman, '31 ARCH

      Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Charles Luckman Associates (Deceased)
    • John C. Houbolt, '40 ENG

      Senior Vice President, Aeronautical Research Associates of Princeton
  • 1969

    • Glen P. Brock, Sr., '22 CBA

      President Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad Company
    • Louis K. Eilers, '29 LAS

      President and Chief Executive Officer, Eastman Kodak Company
    • Dorothy Hunt Needham, '22 LAS

      President, North American Benefit Association
  • 1968

    • Dr. L. Emmerson Ward, AB '39 LAS

      Chairman, Mayo Clinic Board of Governors
    • George E. Keck, '32 CBA

      President, United Air Lines, Inc.
    • Wayne A. Johnston, '19

      Chairman, Illinois Central Industries and Illinois Central Railroad
    • Rexford S. Blazer, AB '28 LAS

      Chairman of the Board, Ashland Oil and Refining Company
  • 1967

    • Oliver J. Troster, '16 ACES

      Partner, Troster, Singer and Company (Deceased)
    • Phillips Talbot, AB '36 LAS, BS '36 MEDIA

      United States Ambassador to Greece
    • Joseph B. Lanterman, '36 CBA

      President, Amsted Industries, Inc. (Deceased)
  • 1966

    • Irna Phillips, '23 LAS

      Creator, Writer, Radio and Television Serials (Deceased)
    • Albert E. Jenner, Jr., LLB '30 LAW

      Attorney, Raymond, Mayer, Jenner & Block (Deceased)
    • Harry 0. Bercher, '28 CBA

      President, International Harvester Co. (Deceased)
  • 1965

    • Allan Nevins, AB '12 LAS, AM '13 LAS

      Historian, Teacher, Biographer (Deceased)
    • William G. Karnes, '33 CBA

      President, Beatrice Foods Co. (Deceased)
    • George S. Halas, '18 ENG

      Owner/Coach, Chicago Bears Football Club, Inc. (Deceased)
  • 1964

    • Leslie B. Worthington, '23 CBA

      President, United States Steel Corp. (Deceased)
    • Stewart D. Owen, AB '20 LAS

      Managing Editor, The Chicago Tribune (Deceased)
    • Mark Van Doren, AB '14 LAS, AM '15 LAS

      Poet, Author, Teacher, Literary Critic (Deceased)
  • 1963

    • Donald R. Grimes, AB '28 LAS

      President, Independent Grocers Alliance Distributing Co. (Deceased)
    • William B. Greene, '08 ENG

      Chairman of the Board Barber-Greene Co. (Deceased)
    • Max Abramovitz, BAR '29 ARCH

      Architect, Harrison and Abramovitz
  • 1962

    • Clifford S. Strike, '24 ENG

      President, F.H. McGraw & Co. (Deceased)
    • Dr. Karl A. Meyer, MD '08

      Medical Director, Cook County Medical Institutions (Deceased)
    • George Chandler, '22 CBA

      President of the Board Screen Actors Guild (Deceased)
  • 1961

    • James B. Reston, '32 MEDIA

      Chief, Washington Bureau The New York Times (Deceased)
    • Karl M. Dallenbach, AB '10 LAS

      Distinguished Professor of Psychology University of Texas (Deceased)
    • Harold Boeschenstein, '20 CBA

      President, Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. (Deceased)
  • 1960

    • Robert L. Latzer, '08 ACES

      Chairman of the Board Pet Milk Co. (Deceased)
    • Herman C. Krannert, '12 ENG

      Chairman of the Board Inland Container Corp. (Deceased)
    • Arnold 0. Beckman, '22 LAS

      President, Beckman Instruments, Inc.
  • 1959

    • Collett E. Woolman, '12 ACES

      President, Delta Air Lines
    • Vicente Y. Orosa, '11 ENG

      Public Works Engineer, Philippine Government
    • Vincent du Vigneaud, '23 LAS, MS '24 LAS, HON '60

      Nobel Prize Winner Chemistry
  • 1958

    • Louis C. Goad, '23 ENG

      Executive Vice President, General Motors Corp.
    • Edward A. Doisy, AB '14 LAS

      Nobel Prize Winner Chemistry
    • Avery Brundage, '09 ENG

      President, International Olympic Committee
  • 1957

    • Charles B. Shuman, '28 ACES, MS '29 ACES

      President American, Farm Bureau Federation
    • William E. Levis, LLB '13 LAW

      Chairman of the Board Owens Illinois Glass Co.
    • Clifford F. Hood, '15 ENG

      President, United States Steel Corp.