Distinguished Alumnus Award

UF's Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes alumni who have excelled in their chosen field or who have performed outstanding service for the university. Here are past College of the Arts award recipients.

Peter Baloff

Peter Baloff has written and produced movies and television shows for most of the major studios and networks and directed national commercials for some of the world’s largest advertising agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

After winning the Norman Lear Award for Playwriting and the David Library Award for Playwriting, he moved to Los Angeles to write for film and TV. Over the past 25 years Baloff has sold over a dozen screenplays (6 produced) and worked on numerous network shows and television specials. Baloff’s screenplay Quicksand; No Escape won the Writers Foundation Award for Best Screenplay in 1992. His screenplay, The Undertaker was cited by the Writers Guild of America, West as one of the top ten unproduced comedies.

Baloff values his association with academic film and theatre. He taught screenwriting for the highly regarded UCLA Writing Program and the New York Film Academy. He participates in numerous film festivals and serves as an adjudicator for the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival, an outstanding program, which cultivates nurturing mentorships between entertainment professionals and college students all across the country.

In addition, Baloff is an award-winning Creative Director and Copywriter who has led the marketing and advertising efforts for some of America’s top corporations. Working with top ad agencies, consulting directly with the boards of directors, he has built a reputation as someone who knows how to build brands in all marketing venues.

Plus, he has created highly successful online campaigns, optimizing advertising and conversion funnels to drive traffic and increase sales for a variety of companies in almost all industry categories.

Baloff received his B.A. and M.F.A. from the University of Florida where he received the Presidential Recognition Award and recently was honored with the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award

Stephen Root

An alumnus of the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre and Dance, Stephen Root is one of today’s most prolific character actors and has been countless films such as Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and Dodgeball, and television programs including the popular News Radio and West Wing. Root became a cult hero as the mumbling, put-upon Milton Waddams in Twentieth Century Fox’s Office Space. In 2007/2008, Root performed in the Coen brothers’ recent Oscar-winning film No Country for Old Men. He appears in the recently released Drill Bit Taylor, with Owen Wilson for Paramount Pictures and Leatherheads with George Clooney for Universal. His voice may be as well known as his face. Mike Judge, creator of the Emmy-winning hit animated series “King of the Hill” cast Root as the voice of ‘Bill,’ Hank Hill’s next-door neighbor. His list of animated features include the voice of ‘Bubbles’ the fish in the hit, Finding Nemo, and a hilariously menacing ‘Rhino,’ in Ice Age, and the Aardvark Dad Ice Age: The Meltdown.

Kirk Moss

Moss holds a Ph.D. in Music Education, conducting emphasis, from the University of Florida and a Master of Music, with a cognate in string pedagogy, from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. An associate professor of music at Minnesota State University Moorhead, he leads orchestral activities and string education. He has appeared as a guest conductor, clinician, or adjudicator in more than twenty states. Moss has 12 years experience teaching elementary, middle and high school orchestras. One of his former schools honors him by annually awarding a college string scholarship in his name. The American String Teachers Association, comprised of nearly 11,500 members, recently voted him President-Elect; he will serve as national president from 2010-12.

Nan Keeton

Ms. Keeton holds her M.F.A. in Drawing from the Graduate School of Figurative Art, New York Academy of Art, and B.A.s in both Fine Arts and Business Administration from the University of Florida. In her position as Vice President of Marketing & Business Development for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, Ms. Keeton is responsible for strategic planning and management of earned income initiatives. She oversees brand development, destination marketing, and identifying and developing business opportunities for the world’s largest performing arts center, which receives 5 million visitors annually. Ms. Keeton is the lead manager of Lincoln Center’s all-campus marketing steering committee.

James Rizzi

James Rizzi, a 1974 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate at the School of Art and Art History, was born in Brooklyn, NY. He created his unique 3-D construction process by combining painting, sculpting, and print-making to complete his senior projects at UF. His three-dimensional constructions have been acclaimed for their bold and detailed portrayals of everyday people and places. He is known for his innovative interpretation of contemporary urban life. Since his 1974 debut in the Brooklyn Museum, he has exhibited his work in galleries and museums all over the world. As one of contemporary art’s most prominent figures, James was commissioned to create a series of paintings for the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. He also was selected to design images incorporating competitive sports of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games and the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. In addition, James Rizzi has designed album covers, stage sets, animated videos for the rock group The Tom Tom Club, and was the subject of four films produced for Japanese TV. Two major books were published in 1998 and 1992 about James Rizzi’s art and life in the United States. James was designated the official artist for the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival held in Montreux, Switzerland, in the summer of 1997. Volkswagen AG commissioned James to create three Volkswagen Beetle models at their headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, in 1999. A third book, James Rizzi Artwork 1993-2006, by Glenn O’ Brien and Mark Weinberg, was published in 2006. James has made a commitment throughout his career to give back to the community and to his alma mater. He established the James J. Rizzi Endowed Scholarship at UF to encourage students to pursue their passion for creativity through art. He currently lives in Manhattan.

Jake Pinholster

A UF graduate in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and in 2003 with a Master of Fine Arts, Jacob Pinholster is currently an assistant professor of design at Arizona State University’s School of Theatre and Film, and an associate artist with the Obie and Garland Award-winning experimental theatre company Les Freres Corbusier. In his career as a professional designer, Jacob has worked on more than 50 productions On, Off-, and Off-Off-Broadway, in regional theatres across the country and touring productions. His favorite productions include Wicked, Spamalot, David Dorfman Dance’s Underground and Les Freres Corbusier’s Heddatron. Jacob also serves as the production manager and programming consultant for Lighting Dimensions International, the largest entertainment technology trade show in the Americas.

Ann Cummings

Ann Cummings, pianist and artist, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music performance, with honors in 1985. She is the creator of Inside The Music, a multi-media approach to performing classical music. Her recitals have included magic tricks, performance art, sculpture and masks. Ann has toured nationally and internationally into Canada with Inside The Music since 1994. Her performances range from the world premier concert, off Sarah Bassinthwaites’ Stochatikos in 2004 to work with the Seattle Composers’ Salon, the ProConArt Series at the University of Washington in Seattle, the Center for Advanced Research of Technology in the Arts and Humanities at the University of Washington, and recording projects for composers in the Seattle area. Ann has also premiered composers’ works on the live radio station, KING FM in Seattle. Active as a teacher, she has conducted private lessons in piano since 1988, private instruction of visual art since 1999, and private instruction of multi-media piano performance and Flash 5 since 2005. She is a member of Seattle Music Teachers Association. Ann is a member of the Organization of Independent Artists and a past Chairperson for the National Guild piano auditions from 2000-2006. She was the artistic director for Inside the Music concert series at CoCa, 2004. In addition, Ann has volunteered on the international concert committee, and presented free concerts for the Seattle downtown library, Frye Art Museum, and Seattle Art Museum.

E. Michael Whittington

A 1990 graduate with a Master of Arts in Art History, E. Michael Whittington also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from western Georgia State University in 1980. Currently, Michael is currently Executive Director at the Monterey Museum of Art in California. Before that, he spent ten years as curator of Pre-Colombian and African Art at the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, NC. Additionally, he served as an Adjunct member of the Art Department faculty at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where he taught Curatorial Theory and Practice, Northern Renaissance Art and Pre-Colombian Art. Among his many professional activities and interests, Michael has organized and participated in diverse scholarly and professional symposia in the U.S. Europe and Latin America. He was a key member of the leadership team that guided the Mint Museum of Art through re-accreditation with the American Association of Museums, the establishment of ethics policies, and the creation of an institutional artistic vision. Michael was honored as the curator and organizer of the Sport of Life and Death: The Meso-American Ballgame. This national traveling exhibit received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Chris Linn

A 1988 graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre, Chris Linn is currently Senior Vice President of Production, Series Development, and Animation for MTV. He is responsible for live action and animation pilots and series, as well as MTV2 production management. Chris also serves as Executive Producer for the animation series Chico and Guapo and Where MY Dogs At? Chris began his career with MTV networks in 1990 at Nickelodeon Studios Florida, where he worked as a Production Manager on over 250 episodes of television. In 1995, he moved with Nickelodeon to New York City where he contributed to the design, and supervised the launch, of the Nick Digital Animation Studio which produced the Emmy Award winning series Little Bill and Blue’s Clues. Chris also oversaw physical production on Nickelodeon’s live action series and served as Executive in Charge of Production for the theatrical release of Hey Arnold! The Movie. In 2003, Chris was named Vice President of Production for Spike TV, where he supported the launch of the new network and supervised production of their pilots, series, and specials. In February 2005, he joined MTV as Vice President, Executive in Charge of Production, Development & Animation where he worked on shows like Laguna Beach and the Andy Milonakis Show.

Tayloe Harding

A 1981 graduate with a Bachelor of Music Education, Tayloe Harding is currently Dean of the School of Music at the University of South Carolina. He also currently serves as Composer-in-Residence for the Valdosta (GA) Symphony Orchestra. Tayloe has previously served in faculty and administrative capacities at North Dakota State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Georgia State University. Currently President of the College Music Society, he also has been active in the Society of Composers, Inc. and the National Association of School of Music. Tayloe’s works have received performances throughout the U.S., Canada, and internationally. He has received grants from Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Foundation, and Philip Morris, Inc.

Duane Bray

A 1994 graduate with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Art, Duane Bray is currently the global head of Interaction Design for IDEO, an innovative design company, and co-leader of Software Experience, the IDEO practice focused on software, web and interactive media. With a background in both communication design and interaction design, Duane has worked on a range of projects from product interaction to interactive exhibits to software and the web. His client list includes Microsoft, AT&T Wireless, Xerox, BMW, United Airlines, and the BBC. His experience includes the development of major software and hardware programs, and the integration of emerging technologies into products and services. Duane joined IDEO in 1995, and has worked in the UK and different locations in the USA. In addition to IDEO, he worked at Pentagram Design where he established an interaction design practice in their San Francisco studio.

Stella Sung

Stella Sung, currently Professor of Music at University of Central Florida, holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Composition from UF. She is recognized as an American composer of national and international stature. Stella’s works are performed worldwide. Premieres include performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, the Schauspielhaus, Merkin Hall, and Jacoby Concert Hall. She has received recognition and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, “Meet the Composer”, American Symphony Orchestra League, Southern Arts Federation, German Ministry of Culture, MacDowell Colony, Florida State Music Teachers Association, and others. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma has commissioned Stella, as have the German Ministry of Culture, New Renaissance Chamber Artists, and Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, among others. She completed a multi-media and orchestral work titled Constellations, and is working on several other projects, including work on a documentary film.

Malcolm Gets

A 1987 graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre, Malcolm has found great success on both stage and screen. Malcolm began acting in productions at UF when he was 14, in a production of Carnival. He enrolled at UF at 16. While at UF, Malcolm acted, choreographed, composed, and even sat under a piano, “ghost playing” for an actor in House of Blue Leaves. He went on to the graduate program at the Yale School of Drama. Since then, he has acted extensively on New York Stages. Malcolm has been the recipient of a number of awards, including a Tony nomination, Drama Desk nominations, and the Obie award. Malcolm is perhaps best known for his role of “Richard,” the tortured artist, on NBC’s hit series Caroline in the City. In film, he has appeared in Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, Love in the Time of Money, and Adam and Steve. He made his Carnegie Hall debut opposite Barbara Cook.

Victor Lopez

Victor Lopez, a UF Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and advanced degrees from Florida International University and NOVA Southeastern, has found success as a highly acclaimed composer, arranger, educator, and administrator. An educator with the Miami-Dade County Public School System for the past 30 years, Victor served 16 years as Director of high school bands, and the past 14 years as an administrator. During his tenure as principal at G. W. Carver Middle School, the school was awarded the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award. He currently is principal at Miami Senior High School. Among his accomplishments, Victor was named the “1979 State of Florida Teacher of the Year.” In addition to being former lead trumpet player and arranger for the Miami Sound Machine, he has recorded and performed with various artists and has appeared in numerous music videos. Lopez is an exclusive composer and arranger for Warner Bros. Publications with over 350 publications to his credit. Victor has served as a councilman in the Doral Community Council and participated in the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium committee. He has also been a board member of the Florida Schools Music Association.

Mary Hausch

Mary Hausch, as a UF graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, was one of six artists who founded the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, Fla. Currently Producing Director, Mary has directed more than 90 productions and acted in 50 productions in her thirty years with the Hippodrome. Among her accomplishments, she wrote and directed An Enchanted Land, a show about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, which won the 1998 National Park Service Award and Best of the Fringe at the 1999 Edinburgh Scotland Festival. She is a co-founder of HITT (Hippodrome Improvisational Teen Theatre) for which she won the Margaret Sanger Award and has been recognized by Florida International Volunteer Corps for her work creating HITT pilot programs in Aruba, Antigua, Jamaica, Dominica, and Grenada. Mary has served as panelist and reviewer with both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. She received The Gainesville Sun’s Star Business Award in 1991 and their Arts Person of the Year Award in 1993. She was one of the 50 people of ‘notable achievement” who made contributions in North Central Florida in the past 100 years according The Gainesville Sun in 2000.

Liston Bochette III

Dr. Liston Bochette, a 1980 graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, holds the Decathlon record at UF. He also earned a Masters in Humanities from Inter-American University, and a doctorate from Pacific Western University. Liston became an Olympian participating in four Olympic Games. He first participated in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics in Track & Field, and carried on as a three-time Olympian for the Puerto Rican bob sled team (1992, 1994, and 1998). Doubly accomplished as a sportsman and as an artist, Liston won an Olympic gold medal in painting and drawing at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Cultural Festival. In 1996, he earned The United States Sports Academy Sport Artist of the Year Award. Liston established the International Cultural Consortium (ICC) with the purpose of exemplifying Olympic ideals before a global audience. As a coach, professor, and public speaker, he continues to inspire young people to reach for their highest goals. Currently Liston serves as Secretary General for the World Olympians Association. He remains a working artist with his work on exhibition, and in private commissioned collections internationally. He serves on the United States Sports Academy of Trustees, and was on the executive board of the Tampa/Orlando 2012 Olympic Bid Committee.