Distinguished Alumni Awards

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.


Distinguished Alumni Award Honoree: 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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Distinguished Alumni Award Honoree: 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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