2012 Distinguished Alumni Awards

On March 22, 2012, six alumni were honored for their achievements, service, and commitment to the liberal arts.

Meet The 2012 Recipients

Robert A. Ansehl, AB ’76

A partner at Clyde & Co, transactional lawyer Robert Ansehl has been involved in some of the most significant insurance transactions in the international insurance world. His representation of U.S. and international insurance and reinsurance companies, commercial and investment banks, private equity and hedge funds, and derivative and financial products companies involves decisions that help determine the organizations’ immediate direction. Among his challenges is being knowledgeable about exceedingly complicated developments ranging from potential industry impacts of a European Union breakdown (or the consequences of survival and growth) to the effects of events in Asia and the Middle East.

Samuel Halperin, AB ’52, MA ’52, PhD ’56

An immensely respected leader in academia, government and nonprofit organizations during his career of more than 50 years, Samuel Halperin has devoted his life to serving disadvantaged children and non-collegebound youth. In the practical world of education politics, he helps policymakers bridge research, policy and practice in education, youth development and career readiness.

Naomi G. Lebowitz, MS ’55, PhD ’62

Speaking to faculty and students at the retirement party the English department threw for Naomi Lebowitz in 2000, her colleague Daniel Shea called Dr. Lebowitz — the Hortense and Tobias Lewin Professor Emerita in the Humanities in Arts & Sciences — “their teacher, their prophet and their chanteuse.” Years before, her late longtime friend in Duncker Hall, fiction writer and essayist Stanley Elkin, had bestowed an encomium, naming her “the Insight Lady.”

Susan Fisher Sterling, AB ’77

Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C., Susan Fisher Sterling has built her career and the stature of the museum around the message of equity for women through the example of excellence in the arts. When she signed on as associate curator of the new museum in 1988, she had just graduated from Princeton University with an MA and PhD in art history, specializing in modern and contemporary art. During her 24- year tenure, the museum has flourished, showcasing key American and international women artists in a stream of major exhibitions, while its collection has grown to include over 4,000 artworks. Among Dr. Sterling’s honors are Orders of Merit from Brazil and Norway, the President’s Award of the Women’s Caucus for Art and selection in 2011 as one of ArtTable’s 30 most influential professional women in the visual arts.

Robert L. Virgil, MBA ’60, DBA ’67, Doctor of Laws (Honorary) ’09

Whenever Washington University asks Emeritus Trustee Robert Virgil to take on a new challenge, his answer — always — is yes. Business school dean during 16 years of growth and rising national recognition, Bob has spearheaded memorable university initiatives ever since. In each enterprise, and in the course of his deanship, he says, Arts & Sciences was integral. In October 1992, he chaired the group that organized the first nationally televised three-person presidential debate, held in the Athletic Complex — with only one week’s advance notice. He chaired the commission that planned the university’s Sesquicentennial year. He chaired the campaign for the Danforth University Center. And today, Bob is chairing Opening Doors to the Future: The Scholarship Initiative for Washington University, which addresses a crucial need he heard every school dean at the university articulate before the trustees.

Mark Steinberg Weil, AB ’61

Washington University has been part of Mark Weil’s sensibility since his earliest years: He grew up on Forsyth Boulevard, across the street from the Danforth Campus, as part of a family whose philanthropy strengthens the university’s art collection and its academic programs today. Now the E. Desmond Lee Professor Emeritus, Dr. Weil first studied art history with noted scholars ranging from George Mylonas (classical archaeology; an excavator of Mycenae) to Frederick Hartt (Italian Renaissance) and Norris K. Smith (architectural history and medieval art).