Earlier this week President Obama awarded the National Medal of Arts to seven individuals. Three of the winners were African Americans and two of the Black winners have ties to the academic world.
Rita Dove, the Commonwealth Professor of Poetry at the University of Virginia, was awarded “for her contributions as an American poet and author. Ms. Dove creates works that are equal parts beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics. Ms. Dove has worked to create popular interest in the literary arts, serving as the United States’ youngest Poet Laureate and advocating on behalf of the diversity and vitality of American poetry and literature.”
Professor Dove is a summa cum laude graduate of the Miami University and holds a master of fine arts degree from University of Iowa.
Andre Watts is a professor of piano and holds the Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music at Indiana University. He was honored “for his contributions as an American pianist and teacher. Having debuted with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic at the age of 16, Mr. Watts has been a perennial favorite with the most celebrated orchestras and conductors around the world. His superb technique and passionate intensity have been the hallmarks of a 45-year career of recitals, broadcasts, and recordings that have broadly shared his interpretations of an extensive repertory from Mozart through Rachmaninoff.”
When he was 26 years old, Watts received an honorary degree from Yale University, the youngest person to be so honored by the university.