College of LAS « Illinois

Notable alumni

The college’s alumni body is 162,000 strong and includes eight Nobel Laureates and six Pulitzer Prize winners.

Learn more about our alumni events.

Susan Avery Susan Avery (MS, '74, physics; PhD, '78, atmospheric sciences) is a senior fellow at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, D.C. She's also president emerita of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, where she led the marine science and engineering research organization from 2008-2015. She earned the American Meteorological Society's highest honor, the title of honorary member.

Jim Benson James M. “Jim” Benson (BA, '68, finance) served as CEO of John Hancock Life Insurance Company, and is on the United States Olympic Committee board of directors. He’s the founder and chairman of World T.E.A.M. Sports, an organiza"ion dedicated to providing opportunities through sport for people with disabilities.

David Harold Blackwell David Harold Blackwell (AB, '38, MS '39, PhD, '41, mathematics) led a distinguished career in mathematics and statistics research and education before his death in 2010 at age 91. In 1955 he joined the University of California-Berkeley, where he held joint faculty appointments in the Departments of Statistics and Mathematics. He was the first African American elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Nancy Brinker Nancy Brinker (BA, '68, sociology) received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for founding Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a worldwide grassroots organization fighting breast cancer. The organization has raised more than $1.3 billion to find a cure for the disease and provide support for its victims.

Rafael Correa Lin Chuan (MS, '82, PhD, '84, economics) became the premier of Taiwan in May 2016. Lin began his professional career in academia before accumulating extensive experience in the public and private sectors.

Rafael Correa Rafael Correa (MS, '99, PhD, '01, economics) is an Ecuadorian politician and economist who has served as president of the Republic of Ecuador. He has also served as president pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations.

Ed Cupp Ed Cupp (PhD, '69, entomology) developed an environmentally safe, successful method for controlling the spread of river blindness, a parasitic disease that affects millions of people in Africa and Central America.

Roxanne Decyk Roxanne Decyk (BA, '73, English literature) is a top executive at Shell Oil Company who is shattering the metaphorical glass ceiling for women in corporate America.

David Donald David Donald (MA, '42, PhD, '46, history) won two Pulitzer Prizes in Biography. He received the first in 1961 for "Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War" and the second in 1988 for "Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe."

Jean Driscoll Jean Driscoll (BA, speech communication, '91) won the Boston Marathon eight times and a gold medal at the 2000 Paralympic Games.

Robert Dudley Robert Dudley (BS, '78, chemical engineering) was named CEO of BP in 2010. He spent his whole career in the oil and gas industry. He held senior management roles in Amoco and BP and was chief executive officer of TNK-BP from 2003 to 2008.

Larry Ellison Larry Ellison co-founded Software Development Laboratories, which eventually became Oracle Systems Corporation. Its flagship product: the Oracle database. Ellison served as the company's CEO until 2014 and continues to serve as Oracle's chairman and CTO.

Yi GangYi Gang (PhD, '86, economics) was named chief of China's central bank in 2018. He took over as the bank was tasked with ongoing reform of the financial landscape, including encouraging foreign investment into the financial markets, and monetary policy reform.

Red Grange Nicknamed the Galloping Ghost, Harold "Red" Grange was a three-time All-American halfback from the University of Illinois who helped launch professional football as a player for the Chicago Bears. In 2008, ESPN named him the best college football player of all time, and he's recognized with a statute outside Illinois' Memorial Stadium.

Erika Harold In a search for scholarship money to attend law school, Erika Harold (BA, '01, political science) was crowned Miss Illinois 2002 and Miss America 2003. Her platforms included preventing bullying and youth violence. She graduated from Havard Law School and currently works as an attorney.

Rolando Hinojosa-Smith Rolando Hinojosa-Smith (PhD, '69, Spanish) earned Latin America's highest award for fiction, the Premio Casa de las Americas, and is a recipient of the National Award for Chicano Literature. He is one of the few U.S. citizens to be named a member of the Royal Spanish Academy for Spanish Language.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati Sri Mulyani Indrawati (MS, '90, PhD, '92, economics) is Indonesia's finance minister. She has also worked as managing director and dhief operating officer of the World Bank, head of the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency, executive director at the International Monetary Fund, and as a faculty member at the University of Indonesia.

Robert Johnson Robert Johnson (BA, '68, teaching of social studies) co-founded Black Entertainment Television with his former wife and fellow Illinois alumna, Sheila Crump Johnson. The Johnsons launched the network in 1980 and sold it to Viacom in 2001.

Lynn Morley Martin Lynn Morley Martin (BA, '60, teaching of English) served in the Illinois House of Representatives, Illinois Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. In the U.S. House, she was vice chair of the House Republican Conference. She served as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1991 to 1993, and also worked as a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Manamgenent

Molly Melching Molly Melching (AB, '79, general curriculum) spent more than 25 years in Senegalese villages promoting literacy and education. In 1991, Melching created TOSTAN, a nonprofit organization that teaches an 18-monthlong basic education program in the native languages that emphasizes problem solving and is adapted to the villagers' way of life.

John Micetich John Micetich (BS, '69, psychology) is a successful owner of a financial investment firm. He returns to campus each January to teach an eight-week course in financial planning-pro bono-as one of his ways of giving back to his alma mater.

Robert Novak Robert Novak (AB '52, English) was the nation's longest-running syndicated political columnist before his death in 2009 at age 78. He also shared his insights on prominent television programs such as "The McLaughlin Group," "Meet The Press," "The Capital Gang," and "Nightline."

Suze OrmanSuze Orman (BA, social welfare '77), an expert on personal finance, is a two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, New York Times bestselling author, magazine and online columnist, writer/producer, and motivational speaker.

Richard PowersRichard Powers (AB, ’78, MA, ’80, English) is an American novelist whose works explore the effects of modern science and technology. He won the 2006 National Book Award, the MacArthur “genius” award, the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2010.

Bob Richards Bob Richards (AB, '47, general curriculum) was a versatile athlete who made three U.S. Olympic Teams in two events. He competed in the 1948, 1952, and 1956 Summer Olympics as a pole vaulter, and as a decathlete in 1956. He is the only male two-time Olympic gold medal winner in the pole vault.

Phillip A. Sharp Phillip A. Sharp (PhD, '69, chemistry) shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for research that was important in understanding RNA splicing and the biology of tumor causing viruses.

Phillip A. Sharp Thomas Siebel (BA, '75, history; MBA, '83; MS, '85, computer science) is the founder, chairman, and CEO of C3 IoT, an Internet of Things platform and applications company. Siebel was the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Siebel Systems, which was acquired by Oracle in January 2006. He also founded the Siebel Energy Institute.

Jack Welch Jack Welch (MS, '59, PhD, '61, chemical engineering) served as chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001. During his tenure at GE, the company's value rose 4,000 percent. At GE, Welch became known for his teaching and growing leaders, and for streamlining the company by focusing on its most successful sectors.