Honorary Degree Recipients Named

April 11, 2014

By Bethany Hexom

Columbia College will honor five leaders in their fields with honorary degrees during its spring 2014 commencement ceremonies for more than 2,400 graduate and undergraduate students on May 17 and 18 at the Chicago Theatre. The college will present honorary degrees to founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects, Jeanne Gang; composer, lyricist and writer Jim Jacobs; president and director of Expo Chicago, Tony Karman; professor and historian Diane Ravitch; and founder and artistic director of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn.

Jeanne Gang
Honored at 10 a.m. ceremony on May 17

Jeanne Gang is the founder and principal of Chicago-based architectural firm Studio Gang Architects. Her projects include the 82-story Aqua Tower near Millennium Park, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo and Columbia College’s Media Production Center. Her work with Studio Gang has been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. In 2009, she was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and she received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2011. In 2013, Studio Gang received a National Design Award for Architecture Design from the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.

Jim Jacobs
Honored at 1:30 p.m. ceremony on May 17

Chicagoan Jim Jacobs is a composer, actor and playwright, best known for co-authoring with the late Warren Casey on the iconic musical comedy Grease, inspired by Jacobs’ experiences as a teenager at Chicago’s Taft High School in the late 1950s. He also co-authored a spoof of B movies titled Island of Lost Co-eds. He also established the Jim Jacobs Musical Theatre Scholarship at Columbia College in 2012.

Tony Karman
Honored at 5 p.m. ceremony on May 17

Tony Karman is the president, director and founder of EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art. He has been an advocate, promoter and strategic marketer of contemporary art in Chicago for 30 years. He was the former director of EXPO CHICAGO’s predecessor, Art Chicago, and has worked for several other fine and performing arts organizations around the city. He also has partnered with local art institutions to present year-round public programs on different elements of the contemporary arts landscape in Chicago.

Diane Ravitch
Honored at 11 a.m. ceremony on May 18

Diane Ravitch, historian of American public education and professor at New York University, has become the nation’s most prominent critic of standardized test-based assessment of public school students. She is the author or editor of 14 books, the most recent being The Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013). She was an assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.

Gordon Quinn
Honored at 2:30 p.m. ceremony on May 18

A distinguished documentary filmmaker, Gordon Quinn is the founder and artistic director of Kartemquin Films, which he co-founded in 1966. He has served as the director, producer or executive producer of dozens of documentaries, most notably the award-winning Hoop Dreams (1994). Kartemquin’s other films include A Good Man (2011), At the Death House Door (2008), Vietnam, Long Time Coming (1998) and the seven-hour PBS series The New Americans (2004).