About the College

Honors & Awards

Chita Rivera, DFA

Chita Rivera is an accomplished and versatile actress, singer and dancer who has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and has received eight additional Tony nominations. Rivera is also a 2018 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Tony Award. She has starred in The Visit, the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Broadway and touring productions of Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink, Chicago, Jerry's Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful. On tour: Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba and Can-Can with The Rockettes. She trained as a ballerina from age 11 before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from legendary George Balanchine. Chita's first appearance, at age 17, was as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam. Chita was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009. She also received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in 2002 and is the first Hispanic woman ever chosen to receive this award. On November 6, 2015, Great Performances aired their special, Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin' To Do, a retrospective on her extraordinary life and career nationally on PBS. Chita's current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing. Her most treasured production is her daughter — singer, dancer and choreographer Lisa Mordente. 

Libby Larsen, MusD

Libby Larsen is one of America’s most performed living composers. She has created a catalogue of over 500 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works and over twelve operas. Grammy Award winning and widely recorded, including over fifty CDs of her work, she is constantly sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles, and orchestras around the world, and has established a permanent place for her works in the concert repertory.

As a vigorous, articulate advocate for the music and musicians of our time, in 1973 Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum. A former holder of the Papamarkou Chair at John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, Larsen has also held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, and the Colorado Symphony. Her career has been recognized with several awards including MIT’s McDermott award, the Peabody Award, and the American Academy’s Arts and Letters Award. 

Magdalene Odundo, DFA

Magdalene Odundo is an international ceramic artist known for her distinct hand built anthropomorphic vessel forms. Born in Nairobi, Odundo grew up in Mombasa, Kenya, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in 3DD Ceramics from West Surrey College of Art & Design in Farnham, Surrey, UK, and a Master of Arts in Ceramics from the Royal College of Art, London, UK. Odundo is professor of ceramics at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in Surrey and is on UCA’s research team at the Crafts Study Centre. In 2008 she received an OBE in the queen’s birthday honours in recognition of her contribution to education and the arts and was the recipient of the African Art Recognition Award from Detroit Institute of Art. In 2012 she was recognized with the African Heritage Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award.

Jerry Uelsmann, DFA

Jerry Uelsmann taught at UF from 1960 to 1998 where he helped to establish a creative photography program, one of the first fine art photography programs in the United States. Mr. Uelsmann had his first major museum solo show in 1967 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and published his first book of images in 1970. Throughout his highly-praised career, nine monographs have been published on his work and Uelsmann has been the subject of more than 100 international solo exhibitions. In his own words: "It is my conviction that the darkroom is capable of being, in the truest sense, a visual research lab; a place for discovery, observation, and meditation." Mr. Uelsmann lives in Gainesville.

Daniel Lewis, DFA

Daniel Lewis, founding dean of dance of New World School of the Arts in Miami, was honored for his leadership in dance and education in an artistic discipline. In 2010, the National Dance Educators Organization awarded Mr. Lewis its Lifetime Achievement Award, paying tribute to his many years as a dancer, choreographer, educator and administrator. Upon retiring from his position at New World School of the Arts, Mr. Lewis said, "I am now on a personal crusade to put dance in every school K through 12."

William King, DFA

William King is a contemporary American sculptor born in Jacksonville, Florida. The figurative portrayal of human figures is common in his work, spanning countless media. After attending the University of Florida, King moved to New York in 1945 and graduated from Cooper Union in 1948. His style comprises mostly abstraction and pop art. During the years of 1994 to 1998, he served as the president of the National Academy of Design. In 2007, King was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award given by the International Sculpture Center.

Karel Husa, MusD

Karel Husa is a Czech-born classical composer and conductor. Husa received a Pulitzer Prize (1969) for his String Quartet No. 3 and the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Music Compostion (1993) for his Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. Among Husa's most popular compositions is Music for Prague 1968, a work in memory of the 1968 Soviet bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia. From 1954 until 1992 he was a professor at Cornell University and lecturer at Ithaca College from 1967 to 1986.

Arnold Mesches, DFA

Visual artist with over 125 solo exhibitions with work represented in places such as the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, Los Angeles County Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and Museum of Modern Art in Sydney; Mesches served as guest faculty at University of Florida’s School of Art + Art History while living in Gainesville with his wife, novelist Jill Ciment.

Stanley Drucker, MusD

Principal clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic; Holds Guinness World Record for “longest career as a clarinetist.”

Ellas Otha Bates McDaniel (Bo Diddley), DFA

American rock and roll vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and inventor. He was known as "The Originator" because of his key role in the transition from the blues to rock & roll. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and a Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar. Degree given to his family posthumously.

Edward Villella, DFA

American ballet dancer and choreographer, often cited as America’s “most celebrated male dancer.” Recipient of Kennedy Center Honors and National Medal of the Arts and founder of Miami City Ballet.

David Cofrin, DFA

Gainesville MD and philanthropist, his many gifts included the basic funding for the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida.

Nancy Hanks, DFA

Second chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She was appointed by President Richard M. Nixon and served from 1969 to 1977, continuing her service under President Gerald R. Ford. During this period, Hanks was active in the fight to save the historic Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C. from demolition. In 1983, it was officially renamed the Nancy Hanks Center, in her honor, and today houses the offices of the NEA, among others.

Allen S. Weller, DFA

Art historian, critic and teacher. Noted author on contemporary American art. Established Krannert Art Museum in Illinois.

Aaron Copland, MusD

Outstanding musician, conductor and American nationalist composer of concert, ballet and film music. Known as “the dean of American composers,” Copland achieved a balance between modern music and American folk styles.

James Melton, MusD

UF alumnus, 1921-23. Prominent actor, artist and singer. Appeared with Metropolitan Opera Association. Melton has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for radio and the other for recording.