Robert Farris Thompson, Ph.D. – Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
Robert Farris Thompson, PhD, has had a profound impact on society's understanding of the impact of African heritage on the culture of the Americas. Over the course of a career spanning more than five decades, he has become one of the world's foremost scholars on the subject, publishing groundbreaking text on a wide range of humanistic subjects including African dance, Yoruban art history, Pygmy cloth art, and the first international study of altars across the transatlantic diaspora. His landmark book, Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy, won critical acclaim as it shed new light on the fundamental influence of the ancient traditions and artistic forms of sub-Saharan African civilizations had on the philosophical underpinnings and outcomes of creativity in the Western hemisphere during the Atlantic slave trade and beyond. He is the Colonel John Trumbull Professor of History of Art and Professor of African-American Studies at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he received BA, MA, and PhD degrees. He became the longest-serving master of a Yale residential college after 32 years as the chief administrative officer and academic and personal adviser to students in Yale's Timothy Dwight College. As the College Art Association honored Thompson with its inaugural award of Distinguished Lifetime Achievement for Art Writing, it heralded him as a "towering figure in the history of art, whose voice for diversity and cultural openness has made him a public intellectual of resounding importance."
Alison Saar – Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
Alison Saar is an award-winning painter, sculptor, and scholar of African, Caribbean, and Latin American art studies. She is internationally celebrated for her unique ability to repurpose materials, such as coal, tar, wood, rope, tin, tools, and glass, into arresting works of art that explore identity, dignity, femininity, race, and humanity. The former artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, is the recipient of numerous major grants and other honors, including a United States Artists Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two artist fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has exhibited extensively, with key showings at prestigious venues, including the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and the Modern of Museum Art in New York. Saar's visual artistic achievements often include life-sized works, such as Swing Low-a powerful 10-foot, two-ton bronze statue of Maryland-born runaway slave and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman-commissioned and ceremoniously unveiled by the city of New York at the Harriet Tubman Memorial Plaza in Harlem. She earned an undergraduate degree in art history from Scripps College in Claremont, California, and an MFA degree from the Otis Art Institute, now Otis College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles, California.
Alumni Award Recipient – Stuart B. Cooper '72
Stuart B. Cooper '72 (BFA in Photography) has worked in numerous facets of the entertainment industry throughout the United States and abroad, including television shows, independent feature films, music videos and interactive DVDs, and documentaries. He taught film and video as an adjunct faculty member at both Dag Hammarskjold University and Antioch College. He is currently a member of the MICA Alumni Council and is on the board of trustees of Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation promoting the fine art of photography. He was key in the establishment of the MICA/Aperture program in MICA's photo department, which brings Aperture artist workshops and lectures to Antioch College, and was recently endowed a chair in the department for the fine art of still photography. Cooper holds a BFA in photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art and an MA in Environmental Design Communications from Goddard College.
Medal of Honor Recipients
Doreen Bolger, Ph.D., H'13
Doreen Bolger, PhD, H'13, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) since 1998, has created a legacy at the BMA which includes a successful $75 million capital campaign and the opening of new and expanded galleries through a $28 million renovation. She redefined the museum's mission to focus on art of the modern era, placed greater emphasis on its world-renowned collection, initiated major scholarly traveling exhibitions, expanded educational programs, and eliminated general admission fees to provide greater access for the public. Prior to her leadership at the BMA, Bolger was director of the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design. She also previously served as curator of American paintings and sculpture at the New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and curator of paintings and sculpture at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas. A passionate community leader and scholar on 19th- and early 20th-century American art, Bolger is intensively engaged in Baltimore's vibrant arts culture community, serving on the boards of Maryland Citizens for the Arts, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, Station North Arts & Entertainment District, Inc., and D center Baltimore. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from MICA in 2013.
Joseph McNeely, J.D.
Joseph McNeely, JD, is a graduate of the University of the Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and founding executive director of the Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP). At CBP, he oversaw groundbreaking economic development collaboration with more than 60 member organizations, including MICA and two other major institutions of higher education-Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore. Under McNeely's leadership, CBP has been a stimulus for $800 million in capital investment, the development of one of the nation's leading arts districts, and 1,200 of new and renovated housing units in nearly a dozen Baltimore City neighborhoods. Prior to his tenure at CBP, McNeely served for two decades as president of the Development Training Institute, noted by national columnist Neal Pierce as "the country's premier trainer" for community development corporations. Previously, he served in the administration of former president James Earl Carter and was the founding executive director of Baltimore's South East Community Organization and Southeast Community Development Corporation. He serves on numerous boards and committees in Baltimore City and is a past president of the Citizens' Planning and Housing Association. He is the author of Community Economic Development in Social Work and co-facilitator of the Weinberg Fellows program of the University of Baltimore's Schaefer Center.
Anne South '66
L. Anne South '66 (BFA in Industrial Design) is director of the Office of Events at MICA. She joined MICA as a staff member in 1999 with her appointment as the first full-time events coordinator for the development department. Before coming to MICA, South operated an events planning firm and worked extensively in events planning and arts administration as director of the Allegany County Arts Council, was instrumental in the purchase and renovation of the Western Maryland Railroad Station, and was director of Maryland Citizens for the Arts. In 2004, South was promoted to senior director and assumed responsibility for the management and oversight of external and internal events and related programming in College facilities; the planning, coordination, and production of major MICA events and major student/public events; and the coordination of the College's calendar; and scheduling and reservation of facilities.