Distinguished Service Award

The Association’s Executive Board is authorized to grant distinctions annually to individuals with records of achievement aligned with PBKACA’s mission and the defining ideals and purposes of the National Society of Phi Beta Kappa.

About the Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award is an honor conferred at PBKACA’s annual meeting continuously since the 1980s. The recipient is so recognized for actions conducted over an extended period of time, typically in the context of a chosen profession/career, that are in keeping with the highest traditions of Phi Beta Kappa. These traditions are reflected in the mottoes guiding the National Society since its origins, “love of wisdom the guide of life” and “achievement through striving” and in its permanent governing principles, “friendship,” “morality” and “literature (learning).”

The honoree also has a personal connection to the Chicago metropolitan area, be it as place of birth/formative experiences/education and/or as the locus of adult achievements. In accepting the award, the individual addresses the assembled PBKACA members on themes relevant to Phi Beta Kappa.

2023 Honoree

PBKACA is pleased to honor Dr. Allison Arwady, former Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health., at our 2023 Annual Dinner on Friday, November 17, 2023, at Loyola University Chicago.

Dr. Arwady, MD, MPH, most recently served four years as the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), leading the nation’s third-largest city’s health department, including through the COVID pandemic. Prior to that, she was CDPH’s Chief Medical Officer, overseeing Chicago’s disease control, environmental health, emergency preparedness, and behavioral health divisions.

Please help us honor Dr. Arwady and our Chicago Public School Scholarship recipients for our Annual Dinner. Registration is available now on our events page. If you cannot be in attendance, please consider making a donation to our Scholarship Fund in Dr. Arwady’s honor.

Past Recipients

2019 Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
2018 Dr. Gary Slutkin, Professor of Epidemiology and Global Health at at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
2017 Elizabeth Glassman, the president and chief executive officer of the Terra Foundation for American Art
2016 Brad Keywell, CEO of Uptake and co-founder of more than 15 companies
2015 Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., Chancellor and former President of Loyola University Chicago Photos »
2014 Andrew Alexander, CEO, co-owner, and executive producer, of The Second City Photos »
2013 Lois Weisberg, former Chicago Commissioner of Cultural Affairs (1989-2011) Photos »
2012 Dana Hall, acclaimed jazz musician Photos »
2011 Drs. Paul Sereno and Gabrielle Lyon, founders of Project Exploration Photos »
2010 William Mason, General Director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Photos »

2009 Rick Bayless, Chicago’s most renowned chef-restaurateur Photos »
2008 James Cuno, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of The Art Institute of Chicago
2007 Arne Duncan, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer
2006 Eileen Mackevich, co-founder and president of the Chicago Humanities Festival
2005 Leon Despres, former Chicago alderman
2004 Catherine Malfitano, leading diva, Lyric Opera of Chicago
2003 Dr. Paul Knappenberger, CEO, Adler Planetarium
2002 Barbara Gaines, Artistic Director & Founder, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
2001 Ed Paschke, visual artist
2000 Gwendolyn Brooks, Poet Laureate of Illinois

1999 Dr. Michael Roizen, Professor, University of Chicago Medical School
1998 Richard Franke, Chairman & Founder, Chicago Humanities Festival
1997 Clarence Page, Columnist, Chicago Tribune
1996 Sandy Boyd, CEO, Field Museum of Chicago
1995 Bill Kurtis, WBBM-TV anchorman & documentary filmmaker
1994 Dr. Milt Rosenberg, Professor, University of Chicago and radio broadcaster
1993 Elmer Gertz, civil liberties attorney and defense counsel
1992 Georgie Anne Geyer, syndicated newspaper columnist and author
1991 Dr. Leon Lederman, Professor, University of Chicago & Fermilab Director
1990 Gary Wills, Professor, Northwestern University & Author

Living Treasure Award

An honor conferred since 2000 recognizing fidelity to Phi Beta Kappa’s governing principles, honoring the pursuit of excellence to the limits of personal capabilities over an extended period while also exhibiting local fellowship. This can be evidenced in particular by support the individual has personally extended to Phi Beta Kappa, such as by membership in PBKACA and/or voluntary assistance provided to the association. All recipients are Phi Beta Kappa initiates through a collegiate chapter. In accepting the award, the individual reflects on personal experiences that resonate with those of PBKACA members.

Richard Wilbur

2014 Honoree

PBKACA is honoring our own Richard S. Wilbur, M.D., J.D., as a Living Treasure on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Wilbur has been a PBKACA board member for many years, most recently as treasurer and college relations liaison.

Wilbur will reflect on his varied career, including military service, medicine, working in the Nixon Administration, and law. He will be interviewed by Randi Belisomo, PBKACA board member and WGN news reporter.

Currently, Dick is chairman of the Judicial Council of the American College of Legal Medicine, chairman of the American Medical Foundation for Peer Review and Education, and member of the Finance Committee of World Association of Medical Law and editor of their Newsbulletin.

Past Recipients

2009 Abner Mikva, U.S. Representative, federal judge, White House legal advisor
2004 Daniel Edelman, founder and retired CEO, Edelman Worldwide
2003 Richard Christiansen, former lead arts critic, Chicago Tribune
2002 George Leighton, retired U.S. District Court Judge
2001 Seymour Simon, retired Illinois State Supreme Court Justice
2000 Dawn Clark Netsch, former Comptroller of Illinois and state legislator