Skip to Content

CAHSS Alumni Achievement Awards

Back to Article Listing


College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Announcement  •
Alumni  •
DU Campus aerial shot

The CAHSS Alumni Achievement Awards program was created in 2012 under the AHSS Advisory Board (now the CAHSS Advisory Board), which offers its experience, expertise and energy to the leadership of the divisions to enrich the Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences communities. The award selection committee is made up of CAHSS Advisory Board representatives and the dean.

Congratulations to our award recipients!


2020 Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement Award: Duane Michals (BA '53, liberal arts)

Duane Michals is a prolific storyteller who introduced and pioneered still-image, multiframe sequences that introduced storytelling to modern photography. Michals was a commercial photographer, working for Esquire and Mademoiselle, and he covered the filming of The Great Gatsby for Vogue (1974). He did not have a studio. Instead, he took portraits of people in their environment, which was a contrast to the method of other photographers at the time. Michals was hired by the government of Mexico to photograph the 1968 Summer Olympics. In 1970, his works were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1976, Michals received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Michals also produced the art for The Police's 1983 album Synchronicity.

Through his work, Duane has frequently focused on projects around the gay community. Over the years, Duane has returned to Denver to partner with DU's School of Art & Art History and the Denver Art Museum to hold workshops and lectures.

Community Engagement Award: Jane Nathanson (BA '67)

Jane Nathanson is a psychologist and a founder the Nathanson Family Resilience Center at UCLA. Nathanson helped establish a major training institute for teaching families and individuals how to cope such as return veteran families and kids in foster care. She is a former DU Trustee and a former member of State of California licensing board for all therapists and social works. Nathanson has received numerous awards from Aspen Institute, Anderson Ranch and AMFar.

Alumni Service to AHSS AwardKaty Williams (BA '14, theatre and neuroscience)

Katy Williams has made a name for herself in Colorado by almost single-handedly bringing puppetry to the theatre community and the public eye. She started a quarterly Rocky Mountain Puppet Slam that is free to the public, co-produced with a local theatre organization, and takes place at a different venue each time. In 2019, Williams hosted her first family-friendly "Puppet Palooza" at Stanley Marketplace. She also started the Rocky Mountain Puppet Guild, joining a national fleet of guilds, and was elected president.

Williams creates all of these free public events and organizations with her own time and money. She also frequently fabricates puppets, costumes and makeup for benefit events, such as the Denver Actors Fund's annual Miscast. Williams continues to work with DU's Department of Theatre, consulting on puppetry as well as inviting students to work with her and participate in her artistic endeavors. She won the 2019 True West Award for her puppetry work on Phamaly Theatre Company's production of Chicago.

Recent Alumni Award: Diana Khoi Nguyen (PhD '18, English and Literary Arts)

A poet and multimedia artist, Diana Khoi Nguyen is the author of "Ghost Of" (2018), which was selected by Terrance Hayes for the Omnidawn Open Contest. In addition to winning the 92Y "Discovery" / Boston Review Poetry Contest, 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Colorado Book Award, she was also a finalist for the National Book Award and L.A. Times Book Prize. She is currently a Kundiman fellow, a writer-in-residence at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and teaches in the Randolph College MFA. Her national acclaimed, award winning book book, "Ghost Of" elegizes a brother lost via suicide, and is a mourning song for the idea of family, a family haunted by ghosts of war, trauma and history.

As course lead instructor at the Daniels College of Business, Nguyen engaged BUS 3000 students in team challenges posed by local Colorado nonprofits: Project C.U.R.E., The Gathering Place, The Urban Farm, First Descents, A Precious Child, and Mile High Health Alliance. Nguyen also volunteered to advise the Women in Business student group and served as moderator for two spring industry panels. As a professional writer, Nguyen has been central to organizing the annual Brew and Forge Bookfair, where authors donate books for sale via the Brew and Forge forum — and all proceeds go toward a different nonprofit. In her capacity with this organization she has raised funding, donation and awareness, in particular for the organizations Latina de Trans en Texas and the Black Mesa Water Coalition.

It is no exaggeration to say that Nguyen is in demand as a rising literary figure and as such travels widely to give lectures, performances and readings. In so doing, she consistently represents the University of Denver. In 2020, Nguyen headlined the DVAN Event (Town Hall, Seattle, WA), and gave public performances/lectures at Austin Peay State University, Bucknell University, Salt Lake City College, University of North Florida, Syracuse University, Rowan University, and Carnegie Mellon University. Additionally, she performed at galleries and literary venues throughout the United States including the Ivy Bookshop Reading Series (Baltimore, MD) and the Observable Reading Series (St. Louis, MO). In 2019, Nguyen gave lectures, literary readings or panel presentations at 24 colleges, universities and literary centers.

Past Recipients

  • 2018 Award Recipients
    • Community Engagement Award: Candi CdeBaca (BA '08 and MSW '09, sociology)
    • Alumni Service to AHSS Award: Frazer Lockhart (BA '10, media, film and journalism)
    • Recent Alumni Award: Morehshin Allahyari (MA '09, digital media studies)
  • 2017 Award Recipients
    • Lifetime Achievement Award: David Rothenberg (BS '55)
    • Community Engagement Award: Simone Kivett (BFA '00, electronic media arts design)
    • Alumni Service to AHSS Award: William Temple (Davy) Davis (PhD '84, theatre)
    • Recent Alumni Achievement Award: Julio Alas (BA '08, psychology and Spanish; MA '11, curriculum and instruction)


  • 2016 Award Recipients
    • Lifetime Achievement Award: Maria Guajardo (PhD '88, psychology)
    • Community Engagement Award: Scott Gratson (PhD '02, human communications)
    • Alumni Service to AHSS Award: Melanie Herrera Bortz (BA '88, psychology)
    • Recent Alumni Achievement Award: Keely Buchanan (BA '01, digital media studies)
  • 2015 Award Recipients
    • Lifetime Achievement Award: Karambu Ringera (PhD '07, human communications)
    • Community Engagement Award: David Rosenberg (BA '78, psychology, mass communication)
    • Alumni Service to AHSS Award: Amelia Ribnick Kleiman (BA '79, political science, economics)
    • Recent Alumni Achievement Award: Christopher Luther (BM '06, music performance)
  • 2014 Award Recipients
    • Alumni Service to AHSS Award: Dr. Edythe Miller (BA '50 and MA '53, economics)
    • Recent Alumni Achievement Award: Mahalia Newmark (BA '08, English)
    • Community Engagement Award: Hannah Seigel Proff (BA '04, English, gender and women’s studies)
    • Lifetime Achievement Award: Hao Jiang Tian (MA '87, music)
  • 2013 Award Recipients
    • Alumni Service to DU Award: (Posthumous) Dave Briggs (BA, political science)
    • Recent Alumni Achievement Award: Meghan Doyle (BA '02, political science)
    • Community Engagement Award: Elizabeth Kingman (BA '71, speech communication)
    • Lifetime Achievement Award: Mayor Steve Hogan (BA '70, political science and history)