Distinguished Alumni Awards

2014 Award Winners Announced

Kohl and Selig Honored with 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. Learn more >

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are the highest honor bestowed by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Since 1936, WAA has been presenting the awards to the most prestigious graduates of UW-Madison for their professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the university.


Michael Splinter ’72, MS’74

As a 40-year veteran of the semiconductor industry, Splinter has honed a leadership strategy that blends engineering and business with a heavy dose of social responsibility.

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Laurie Benson ’75

A tireless force for Wisconsin’s emerging technology industry, Benson has spent 30 years as an entrepreneur growing businesses in the Midwest and beyond.

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Iris Apfel ’43

This “rare bird” spent a lengthy career in antique textiles and design restoration, but her latest title — fashion icon — has been a lifetime in the making. Since her days as an art-education student, Apfel has been refining a bold personal style, which includes her signature oversized and utterly round eyeglasses.

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Vel Phillips LLB’51

Velvalea "Vel" Phillips LLB'51 is associated with a long list of firsts, including being the first African-American woman to graduate from the UW Law School. Yet to fully appreciate Phillips's impact and legacy across the state of Wisconsin — and why she's being honored as a 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award winner — there are several other numbers to consider.

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