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Acclaimed Alumni

Poppea, Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, November 2016, Photo by Darrell Hoemann

Our graduates have made their mark on our global society as designers, directors, artisans, advocates, actors, architects, planners, performers, educators, choreographers, and scholars.

Notable Alumni

The College of Fine and Applied Arts boasts nearly 33,000 living alumni. Every day our graduates advance the design, visual, performing, and environmental arts as problem solvers and explorers. We congratulate some of our most illustrious alumni on their accomplishments.​

  • Ang Lee, Academy Award–winning director of Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi
  • César Pelli, architect of the Petronas Twin Towers and the World Financial Center complex in Manhattan
  • Nathan Gunn, opera superstar
  • Jeanne Gang, MacArthur Fellow and architect for the award-winning Aqua Tower in Chicago and the O'Hare Global Terminal (2028)
  • Sheila Crump Johnson, cofounder of Black Entertainment Television, filmmaker, philanthropist, and entrepreneur
  • Nick Offerman, stage actor; voice actor in The Great North; host of Making It; and screen actor in NBC's Parks and Recreation, the TV show Fargo, and films including Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  • Michael Van Valkenburgh, landscape architect of Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City, and many more of today's most important public open spaces
  • William Wegman, pioneering photographer, video artist, conceptualist, author, and Guggenheim Fellow 
  • Carol Ross Barney, architect, 2017 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects Chicago, and winner of the 2021 Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum National Design Award
  • James J. Pawlikowski, structural engineer for Burj Khalifa—the tallest building in the world—and NATO Headquarters in Brussels
  • Ang Lee: Best Director for Brokeback Mountain (2005); Best Director for Life of Pi (2012); Best Foreign Language Film for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
  • James M. Bohn: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • George H. Crumb: Best Classical Contemporary Composition for Star-Child (2000)
  • Barbara Bain: Best Dramatic Actress for Mission Impossible (1967, 1968, 1969)
  • Michael Colgrass: Best Documentary for Soundings: The Music of Michael Colgrass (1982)
  • Janice Ferri Esser: Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team for The Young and the Restless (1992, 1997, 2000, 2006, 2011, 2014, 2017)
  • Roger E. Young: Best Director for Joseph (1996)
  • James Blachly: Best Classical Vocal Solo Album for The Prison by Ethyl Smyth (2021), recorded with the Experiential Orchestra
  • René Clausen: Best Choral Performance for Life and Breath: Choral Works of René Clausen (2012)
  • George H. Crumb: Best Classical Contemporary Composition for Star-Child (2000)
  • Nathan Gunn: Best Opera Recording for Billy Budd (2010), recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra
  • Craig Hella Johnson: Best Choral Performance for The Sacred Spirit of Russia by Conspirare (2015)
  • Fernando Malvar-Ruiz: Best Choral Performance for Mahler: Symphony No. 8 (Symphony of a Thousand) (2022), recorded with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Children's Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children's Chorus, and Pacific Chorale
  • Donald Nally: Best Choral Performance for Zealot Canticles by The Crossing (2019)
  • Jeanne Gang, founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects (2011)
  • Kevin Adams (aka Kevin Shetterly): Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design (2002)
  • Robert M. Brokaw: Best Director for How I Learned to Drive (1996)
  • Robert Falls: Best Director for subUrbia (1995)
  • Alan O. Johnson: Sustained Excellence of Musical Direction and Pianism (1998)
  • Matthew Savoie: Men's Figure Skating (2006)
  • Michael Colgrass: Pulitzer Prize for Music for Dèjá vu for Percussion Quartet and Orchestra (1978)
  • George H. Crumb: Pulitzer Prize for Music for Echoes of Time and the River (1968)
  • Beth Henley: Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Crimes of the Heart (1981)
  • Robert Falls: Best Direction of a Play for Death of a Salesman (1997)
  • Daniel Sullivan: Best Direction of a Play for Proof (2001)
  • 2011 Brenton Wadsworth (BFA in landscape architecture, 1952)
  • 2004 Robert Falls (BFA in directing and playwriting, 1976)
  • 2003 Robert Badgett Morgan (PhD in music education, 1974)
  • 1996 César Pelli (MA in architecture, 1954)
  • 1981 Daniel J. Perrino (BA in fine arts, 1948; MA in fine arts, 1949)
  • 1993 Fern Hodge Armstrong (1952)
  • 2007 Norman Beasley (BA in music, 1958) and Mary Jane Beasley