Alumni Awards

PAFA's Alumni Association presents two annual alumni awards during the spring commencement ceremony.

The Distinguished Alumni Award and the Alumni Service Award recipients are selected by vote of the Alumni Association Council.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be an alumni of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, or have satisfactorily completed at least one academic year of any PAFA degree or certificate-granting program: Certificate, BFA, MFA, or Post-Baccalaureate Certificate.
  • Current PAFA students and alumni serving as faculty are not eligible.

Submit A Nomination

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Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented in recognition of outstanding artistic achievement. Collectively, recipients are intended to reflect the diversity of the alumni body. The Alumni Association established the award in 2003 and an icon familiar to all who have been formed by this institution: the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Since the Winged Victory, or Nike, entered PAFA's cast collection in 1894, thousands of American artists have learned basic skills in all disciplines by studying its subtleties. The Nike is a bridge and an inspiration to the future achievements of all alumni. The award was sculpted by longtime PAFA instructor Tony Visco, the bronze reduction of Nike is cast by PAFA students.

Alumni Service Award

The Alumni Service Award, established in 2015, is presented annually to alumni who have demonstrated a sustained history of service to the PAFA community. Collectively, recipients are intended to reflect the diversity of the alumni body.

Past Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

2017 Anne Minich

Anne Minich's dexterous drawings and meticulously painted constructions investigate the consistency and the truth of human duality, ambiguity, and multiplicity. Minich, who attended PAFA in 1954 and 1955, is known for her abstract, mixed-media paintings on wood that are often inspired by architectural elements. She refers to them as "painting/constructs" and incorporates intentionally ordinary and mundane found objects into her work. Minich's work has been on view in many shows and group exhibitions. Her work is collected by museums and private collectors, and she is the recipient of awards including a Pollock–Krasner Award, the Leeway Foundation's Bessie Berman Painting Award, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship.


2016 Njideka Akunyili Crosby

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, whose large-scale, multi-layered works reflect contemporary trans-cultural identity, was born in Enugu, Nigeria in 1983. She received her Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from PAFA in 2006, and was in the Certificate program from 2006 until 2009. She has participated in major exhibitions including recent solo shows at the Hammer Museum and the Norton Museum of Art, and group shows at the New Museum, SFMOMA, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Nasher Museum of Art, and The Whitney Museum of American Art Billboard Project. Her work is in the collections of major museums including SFMOMA, PAFA, The Studio Museum, and Tate London.


2015 James Havard

James Havard is a painter and pioneer of abstract illusionism. He study at PAFA from 1961 to 1965 where he was influenced by realist painters Ben Kamihira and Hobson Pittman. By the late 1970s, Havard was considered one of the founders of abstract illusionism along with Al Held, Jack Lembeck, John Clem Clarke, George D. Green, and Tony King. In the 1980s he changed his style into a form of abstract expressionism influenced by Native American and tribal cultures as well as outsider art. Havard’s work is in the permanent collections of many museums around the world including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Sweden, the Tucson Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum.


2014 Raymond Saunders

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Raymond Saunders studied at the PAFA from 1953 to 1957, received a BFA at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and an MFA from California College of the Arts. He has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1952. Saunders’ work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and other public and private collections.


2013 Elizabeth Osborne

Professor Emeritus Elizabeth Osborne has long been recognized by critics and peers as one of the most important Philadelphia artists. She has produced an exceptional body of work that carries into the 21st century the Philadelphia school of modernist color-based light and space exemplified by Arthur B. Carles. Osborne studied at PAFA from 1954 to 1958, and was a faculty member from 1963 to 2011. She retired in 2011 to emeriti status from a teaching career that stretches over almost five decades. A major retrospective of her work titled  Elizabeth Osborne: The Color of Light, was held in the Fisher Brooks Gallery in 2009.


2012 Clarence Morgan

Painter, educator, lecturer and occasional writer, Clarence Morgan (MFA ’78, Certificate ’75) has exhibited his work nationally and internationally. His beautiful abstract painting, City of Tomorrow (2005), part of the Academy’s collection, is currently on view. Since the 1970s, Morgan has used pattern, rhythm, gesture, color, idealized shapes, decoration, and hybrid forms in his abstract paintings, creating an ever evolving vocabulary of shapes and forms.

Professor Morgan’s work is included in the collections of the Cleveland Art Museum, Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Art Institute, General Mills, and University of Alabama, among others. Morgan is a member of the faculty in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he is a professor and former chair of the department.


2011 Frank Bender

2010 Orit Hofshi

2009 Barkley Hendricks

2008 Edna Andrade

2007 Sarah McEneaney

2006 Bill Scott

2005 Louis B. Sloan

2004 Arthur DeCosta

2003 Ben Kamihira


Past Alumni Service Award Recipients

2017 Lorraine Riesenbach

Lorraine Riesenbach received a Certificate from PAFA in 1991 and is the co-founder and director of the Artists’ House Gallery in Philadelphia. Riesenbach and her husband Marvin ran the gallery in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood for 22 years before retiring in 2013. Through her work at Artists’ House Gallery, Riesenbach provided many emerging young artists with their earliest opportunities to exhibit in a gallery and nurtured the careers of untold numbers of emerging artists from PAFA and beyond.


2016 Rodger LaPelle

Rodger LaPelle, artist, raconteur, and owner of Rodger LaPelle Galleries, is the recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Service Award. Throughout LaPelle’s decades-long career, he has been an asset and advocate for PAFA alumni, often integral in launching artists’ careers. With founding Rodger LaPelle Galleries in 1980, he established one of the city’s premier contemporary art spaces. In addition to offering strong secondary market work, Rodger LaPelle Galleries houses pieces by critically acclaimed artists including David Lynch and Sidney Goodman, while also supporting and nurturing the talents of emerging artists. Christine McGinnis, LaPelle’s spouse and co-owner of Rodger LaPelle Galleries, has aided in his endeavors and continues to be essential to the success of the gallery. LaPelle has exhibited his work since graduating from PAFA in 1962, and was recently featured in the Annual PAFA Fellowship Juried Exhibition.


2015 Hilarie Hawley

Hilarie Hawley is a graduate of the Certificate program, and is presently a curator at the new Artist’s House Gallery. From July of 2000 to June of 2014 she was the President of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  In her capacity as President, she fostered the Fellowship Collection of Art that graces the 3rd floor of Hamilton, and has brought many recent alumni artworks into the Fellowship Collection.