Each year at the Columbia College Chicago Commencement, we honor outstanding individuals in the arts, education, politics and public information - people who have engaged their great talents in important human service and whose life work and example embody the college's ideal and spirit.
This year, the President's Office and the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs are proud to announce eight outstanding honorees, individuals whose interdisciplinary approaches have resulted in visionary work that both embodies the spirit of the College and echoes concepts set forth in our mission.
2013 Honorary Degree Recipients
To be honored Saturday, May 18th 10:00am
(Founder, Artistic Director, Choreographer and Director). Dr. Lorenzo (Rennie) Harris was born and raised in an African-American community in North Philadelphia. Since the age of 15, Dr. Harris has been teaching workshops and classes at universities around the country and is a powerful spokesperson for the significance of “street” origins in any dance style. In 1992 Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement, a hip hop dance company dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip hop culture through workshops, classes, hip-hop history lecture demonstrations, long term residencies, mentoring programs and public performances. Harris founded his company based on the belief that hip-hop is the most important original expression of a new generation.
To be honored Saturday, May 18th 1:30pm
Joe Shanahan is known for his independent clubs Metro and Smart Bar, as well as his leadership in the field of the arts in the city and beyond. Opened in 1982, Metro and Smart Bar have thrived and survived to be the oldest continually owned and operated independent clubs in America. In 1993, he helped start Lincoln Square’s Daily Bar and Grill, and in 1994, he opened the Double Door, a smaller music club focused on developing new artists. He is involved with various hospitality companies in Chicago, and in 2012, purchased GMan Tavern, the rock-star watering-hole next door to Metro. In response to City of Chicago requests, Shanahan co-founded the North Clark Street Business Owners Association, and serves as President of the group, which seeks to improve relations between businesses, residents, and the City of Chicago. He also serves on the boards of Chicago arts charities Young Chicago Authors, Chicago Children's Choir and Rock For Kids.
To be honored Saturday, May18th 5:00pm
Martha Nussbaum received her BA from NYU and her MA and PhD from Harvard. She has taught at Harvard, Brown, and Oxford Universities. From 1986 to 1993, Ms. Nussbaum was a research advisor at the World Institute for Development Economics Research, Helsinki, a part of the United Nations University. She has chaired the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on International Cooperation, the Committee on the Status of Women, and the Committee for Public Philosophy. In 1999-2000 she was one of the three Presidents of the Association, delivering the Presidential Address in the Central Division. Ms. Nussbaum has been a member of the Council of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Board of the American Council of Learned Societies. She received the Brandeis Creative Arts Award for Non-Fiction in 1990, and the PEN Spielvogel-Diamondstein Award for the best collection of essays in 1991; Cultivating Humanity won the Ness Book Award of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in 1998, and the Grawemeyer Award in Education in 2002. Sex and Social Justice won the book award of the North American Society for Social Philosophy in 2000. Hiding From Humanity won the Association of American University Publishers Professional and Scholarly Book Award for Law in 2004.
Professor Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and Philosophy Department. She is an Associate in the Classics Department, the Divinity School, and the Political Science Department, a Member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program.
Robert Teitel and George Tillman, Jr.
To be honored Sunday, May 19th 9:00am
Robert Teitel is a native of Chicago, Illinois and alumni of Columbia College Chicago (film and marketing 1990). During his college career, Teitel formed a production company by the name of Menagerie Films with fellow alum George Tillman, Jr. Their first student film, Paula, won several awards including the Student Academy Award. In 1994, Teitel produced Scenes for the Soul, a feature film that was shot in Chicago and later sold to Jackson-McHenry at Savoy Pictures for $1 million. Teitel followed up Scenes for the Soul with the well-received, and commercially successful, feature Soul Food for Fox 2000 at 20th Century Fox. On a sparse budget of $7.5 million, Soul Food grossed $43 million. Upon the release of the film, the partners signed a first look production deal with Fox 2000 for their production company, State Street Pictures. State Street's other credits include Men of Honor, Barbershop and Barbershop 2. Among Teitel's recent producing credits are the feature films Roll Bounce, Nothing Like the Holidays, Notorious, Faster, Jayne Mansfield's Car, and The Baytown Outlaws. Currently, Bob is shooting the indie The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete with George Tillman directing and Jennifer Hudson and Anthony Mackie starring.
George Tillman, Jr.
George Tillman, Jr. has consistently demonstrated the potential of cinema to be both profound and entertaining by crafting films that speak to the important issues of our times through diverse, engaging characters living in story worlds we recognize and care about. He developed his passion for movies and honed the craft and creativity necessary to follow his dreams at Columbia College Chicago, at which he graduated in 1991. At Columbia he formed a directing/producing partnership with fellow alum Robert Teitel and they soon then formed their company State Street Pictures.
Tillman wrote Soul Food, which was a film that he hoped would tell a deeply imaginative, from-the-heart story about a contemporary African-American family. He based the story on his own childhood experiences growing up. He also directed Men of Honor starring Oscar-winning actors Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Robert De Niro, Notorious starring Oscar-nominated actress Angela Bassett and Anthony Mackie, Faster starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and he recently completed The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. George is currently in development on the Miles Davis biopic Miles: Prince of Darkness.
To be honored Sunday, May 19th 12:30pm
Jessica Stockholder works at the intersection of painting with sculpture. Her work sometimes incorporates the architecture in which it has been conceived, blanketing the floor, scaling walls and ceiling, even spilling out of windows, through doors, and into the surrounding landscape. Her work is energetic, cacophonous, idiosyncratic, and formal - tempering chaos with control. She orchestrates an intersection of pictorial and physical experience, probing how meaning derives from physicality.
Stockholder assumed the position at University of Chicago on the Department of Visual Art’s (DOVA) faculty as Chair in 2011. She brought with her twelve years of experience as Director of the Sculpture Department at the Yale School of Art.
Ms. Stockholder received her B.F.A. from the University of Victoria in Canada in 1982, her M.F.A. from Yale University in 1985, and an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Emily Carr College of Art in 2010. Stockholder has exhibited widely in North America and Europe, at such venues as the Dia Center for the Arts, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Open Air Museum in Belgium, the Power Plant in Toronto, Canada, the Whitney Museum of American Art, P.S. 1, New York, SITE Santa Fe, the Venice Biennale, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, and Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery in New York. Her work is represented in various collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, LACMA, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. She has received numerous grants including the Lucelia Artist Award from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and several grants from the Canada Council.
Jane Hamilton and Herbie Hancock
To be honored Sunday, May 19th 4:00pm
Jane Hamilton lives on a working apple orchard in Rochester, Wisconsin. She has published six novels: The Book of Ruth, A Map of the World, The Short History of A Prince, Disobedience, When Madeline Was Young, and Laura Rider’s Masterpiece. Her work has won critical acclaim, been on bestseller lists, two of the novels were made into movies, and several have been chosen for all-city read-a-thons. Both The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World were picks of Oprah’s Book Club. Her essays have been published in The New York Times and elsewhere. She’s lectured around the globe, has taught at Carleton College and for the Warren Wilson MFA program and most recently at Columbia College. In her own community she was President of the Library Board for twenty-five years, until she read the fine print and realized there were term limits. She has served on the board of the Ragdale Foundation, a retreat for Artists and Writers, and is on the Advisory Committee for Literature for All of Us, an organization that inspires underprivileged teenagers to become lovers of books and writing.
Herbie Hancock is a true icon of modern music. Throughout his explorations, he has transcended limitations and genres while maintaining his unmistakable voice. With an illustrious career spanning five decades and 14 Grammy® Awards, including Album of the Year for River: The Joni Letters, he continues to amaze audiences across the globe.
There are few artists in the music industry who have had more influence on acoustic and electronic jazz and R&B than Herbie Hancock. As the immortal Miles Davis said in his autobiography, "Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I haven't heard anybody yet who has come after him."
Born in Chicago in 1940, Herbie was a child piano prodigy who performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. He began playing jazz in high school, initially influenced by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. He also developed a passion for electronics and science, and double-majored in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.
Browse Columbia’s past honorees.