May 26, 1994
Vol. 13, No. 19

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    Alumni contributions to be recognized at June 4 assembly

    Ruth Sager (S.B.'38), a pioneer in the field of genetics and a leading cancer researcher, will receive the Alumni Medal, the University's highest alumni honor, at the Alumni Assembly to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 4, in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. The assembly will follow the 9 a.m. Reunion keynote address and the All-Alumni Cavalcade of Classes from Botany Pond.

    For the past 40 years, Sager has been one of the most productive and imaginative investigators in the field of genetics. She received her Ph.D. in 1948 from Columbia and, after a brief time at Rockefeller University, returned to Columbia in 1955. She focused initially on genetics, using microorganisms to examine the location of genes.

    Her work led to the revolutionary concept that genetic information -- DNA -- is located in cell compartments other than the nucleus, namely in chloroplasts and mitochondria. Although she initially faced enormous opposition, Sager held firm to her position, and the scientific community eventually accepted the importance of her work. Her findings received international attention and provided impetus for further studies of cell genetics in mammals.

    Later, at Harvard, Sager explored the genetic basis for cancer. Again, her work was controversial; again, the scientific community was forced to take notice. In 1985, the National Cancer Institute awarded her the Outstanding Investigator Award, and in 1988 the National Academy of Sciences awarded her the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal for her work.

    Sager's early work on the inheritance of genetic traits set the standard for the field, and her subsequent work in cancer research has likewise had a monumental impact on the entire field of science. She is currently a member of the advisory council of the National Institute on Aging and the scientific advisory committee of the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel. She is the co-author of "Cell Heredity" (1961) and the author of "Cytoplasmic Genes and Organelles" (1972).

    Alumni Service Medal

    Izaak Wirszup (Ph.D.'55), Professor Emeritus in Mathematics, will receive the University Alumni Service Medal for extended, extraordinary service to the University.

    Wirszup has been a member of the University community for 45 years as a student, an award-winning teacher, a valued friend to generations of students in Woodward Court and a scholar whose efforts on behalf of mathematics education have had a profound national impact. He came to the University in 1949 as an instructor in mathematics at the urging of Professor Antoni Zygmund, who had been his mentor in Poland. Wirszup's teaching abilities were recognized in 1958 with a Quantrell Award.

    Wirszup has been for many years the country's leading authority on mathematics education outside the United States. With remarkable energy, he has roused policy-makers, educators and scientists to examine the dramatic problems in American mathematics education.

    In 1983, Wirszup and his associates founded the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, a major effort to bring mathematics education in our schools up to the standards of Japan, Western Europe and the Soviet Union. The project is viewed today as a model of educational partnership among elementary and secondary schools, universities and industry. The curriculum and textbooks it has developed are used by 2 million students in 50 states.

    Wirszup and his wife, Pera, were Resident Masters of Woodward Court from 1971 to 1985. There they instituted a new program of lectures to bring students and faculty members together informally. As the talks flourished, they attracted such notable thinkers as Milton Friedman, Saul Bellow and John Hope Franklin. The lectures, which in the beginning drew 60 or 70 students, soon attracted audiences of 700 to 800 people. Two hundred Woodward Court Lectures were presented during the Wirszups' tenure as Resident Masters. In 1986, one of Wirszup's former students endowed the Izaak Wirszup Lecture Series in recognition of the Wirszups' service to the University.

    Alumni Service

    The Alumni Service Citations are awarded for outstanding service to the University. Honored will be:

    _ Barbara Gilfillian Crowley (A.B.'44), a University volunteer for the past 50 years who has helped shape the student population of the University as an interviewer for the Alumni Schools Committee. In 1992, she chaired the committee that planned the Centennial celebration in Los Angeles.

    _ Sonja Fischer (EX'63), who has given more than 30 years of service to the University, most recently with the Visiting Committee to the Humanities and with the Women's Board. Under her leadership, the board has raised $456,000 for numerous campus projects.

    _ Joyce Newman (Ph.D.'55), president of the Denver Alumni Club from 1967 to 1984, who organized countless Alumni Association activities in the Rocky Mountain region. She is currently club president for the Los Angeles area.

    _ Jane Pugh (A.B.'47), who for more than four decades has given significant service to nearly all areas of the University's alumni programs, including chairing her 40th and 45th reunions and serving the University of Chicago Club of Metropolitan Chicago (UC2MC) in a variety of positions.

    _ Charlotte Schoenbrod (A.B.'37), who chaired her class's 55th reunion and who for the past five years has organized the UC2MC Downtown Luncheon Series, which under her leadership has been one of the club's most successful programs.

    Professional Achievement

    The Professional Achievement Citations recognize those alumni whose attainments have brought distinction to themselves, credit to the University and real benefit to their fellow citizens. Honored will be:

    _ James Abegglen (Ph.B.'48, Ph.D.'56), an expert on U.S.-Japanese economic relations whom Newsweek has called one of America's 25 top authorities on Asian business. The chairman of Gemini Consulting in Japan and of Asia Advisory Service, K.K., he also teaches at Sophia University in Tokyo.

    _ Edwin Diamond (Ph.B.'47, A.M.'49), a leading political journalist and influential media critic whose 10 books about politics and media have won numerous prizes. A former senior editor at Newsweek, he made significant changes at the magazine, encouraging minority and female writers and establishing new standards for Newsweek's back-of-the-book coverage. He is currently the media columnist for New York Magazine.

    _ Alan Fern (A.B.'50, A.M.'54, Ph.D.'60), one of America's leading museum executives. As director of the National Portrait Gallery since 1982, he has expanded the museum's scope and has redefined its unique mission as a museum using art to tell history.

    _ Bundhit Kantabutra (M.B.A.'40), known as "Thailand's Father of Statistics." Kantabutra introduced statistics to his native country, developing the field to international standards on both an academic and a practical level. He established Thailand's first department of statistics at Chulalongkorn University and introduced Thailand's first courses and programs in computer science.

    _ David Kessler (J.D.'78), commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Kessler has developed his office into an effective, activist, consumer-oriented agency. Under his leadership, food labels on nearly all processed foods have been revamped to provide reliable information that consumers can easily use to make healthy food choices.

    _ Robert Michels (A.B.'53), a leader in the field of psychiatry who served for many years as professor and chair of the department of psychiatry at Cornell and recently was appointed dean of Cornell's Medical School. He has done significant service in the public sector, most recently serving as an adviser to the Clinton Health Care Reform Team.

    _ Paul Sills (A.B.'51), acclaimed as one of the most innovative theater directors of our era and one of the pioneers of improvisational theater. As a founder of the Compass Players and Second City comedy troupes, he has inspired and informed an entire generation of actors.

    _ Robert Silvers (A.B.'47), who, as one of the founding editors of The New York Review of Books, has helped to shape our national conversation about art and literature. Considered an outstanding editor, Silvers works closely with his writers to improve the rhetoric and tighten the arguments in their articles.

    Public Service

    The Alumni Public Service Citations honor those who have benefited society and reflected credit on the University through creative citizenship and exemplary leadership in voluntary service. Honored will be:

    _ Nancy Johnstone (EX SSA), executive director of Youth Guidance, a nonprofit mental health and social service agency that addresses children's needs in Chicago's high-risk neighborhoods through outposts in the public schools. In her work as a volunteer, Johnstone has played a critical role in the success of Women in Charge, a group that advances management-level careers for women in nonprofit organizations.

    _ David Logan (A.B.'39, J.D.'41), a member of the Illinois Arts Council since 1977. He chairs several panels, including the budget committee and the strategic planning task force. In the past year, he has been responsible for overseeing a $7.7 million budget from which 494 arts organizations and 57 individual artists received grants. Logan also helped found the Reeva and David Logan Center for Gastrointestinal Clinical Research.

    _ Leatrice Branch Madison (A.M.'47), a recognized community leader in Cleveland, who has dedicated herself to programs that benefit youth. Madison has given time to more than 85 committees and 35 agencies, including such human-rights organizations as the Urban League, the NAACP and Cleveland Heights Citizens for Human Rights.

    _ Maynard Wishner (A.B.'45, J.D.'47), who has combined a long and successful professional career in law and business with an equally distinguished career as a volunteer, dedicated in particular to the concerns of the Jewish community. He is currently president of the Council of Jewish Federations, the umbrella group for all Jewish Federations in the United States and Canada.

    Young Alumni Service

    The Young Alumni Service Citations, which were awarded for the first time during the Centennial, acknowledge outstanding service to the University by individuals ages 35 and younger. Honored will be:

    _ Katharine Bensen (A.B.'80), who has been an active University volunteer for the past six years. She has served as an alumni contact for Career & Placement Services and as chair for her class's 10th reunion, and she is an active member of the modern era committee for the Campaign for the Next Century as well as club president of UC2MC.

    _ Diane Dahl (M.B.A.'86), who is a leader among volunteers and alumnae of the Graduate School of Business. In 1987, she joined the Career Management Committee of the University of Chicago Women's Business Group, and she has since served as the club's president.

    _ James Marks (A.B.'79), who has demonstrated dedication to the University through his support of reunions, student recruitment and fundraising. In 1989, he volunteered as program chairman of his class's 10th College reunion, and this year he is gift chair for his class's 15th reunion.

    Howell Murray Awards

    The Howell Murray Awards were established in honor of a distinguished alumnus and trustee to recognize graduating students for outstanding contributions to the University's extracurriculum. This year's awards will be presented to Frank Baker, Eric Landahl, Karen Maguire, Rachel Massey, In Paik, Brandy Saltzman, Melissa Simon, Cynthia Sinha, Mario Springer, Martin Stein, Glenn Waldorf and Sarah Wiehe.