Wayne State University honors top communication and arts alumni and former students, March 21

March 11, 2014

DETROIT (11 March 2014) -- The College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University presents its 35th Arts Achievement Awards. Outstanding alumni and former students of Wayne State University are recognized for their dedication to, and advocacy for, the arts and communication and for achievements in their respective fields. The Arts Achievement Awards event takes place 4pm to 6pm, Friday, March 21, 2014, at the Alumni House on the Wayne State campus. Wayne State's Alumni House is located at 441 Gilmour Mall, Detroit, MI 48202, with guest parking available in the nearby Structure #1. The event is free and open to the public. Guests are asked to RSVP by March 18, to (313) 577-0300 or online at

Wayne State University Arts Achievement Awards honorees for 2014:

Dean's Award for Community Impact, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
The Erb Family Foundation nurtures environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in metro Detroit and supports initiatives to restore the Great Lakes basin. It has provided $28 million in grants, including $8.6 million for numerous arts programs throughout the region, including ongoing support for the Hilberry Theatre, ArtsCorps Detroit and WDET-FM.

Dean's Award for Community Impact, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
Dr. Donald Ritzenhein, professor of communication, Eastern Michigan University
Throughout his 37 years in administration, including 27 in higher education, Donald Ritzenhein has taught for Wayne State, University of Detroit-Mercy, Macomb Community College and Eastern Michigan University. He is past president and executive secretary of the Michigan Association of Speech Communication, and past president of the Michigan Advancement Council and the Wayne State Alumni Association.

Career Achievement Award in the Field of Music, Department of Music
Jerry Grant, composer and conductor for film and television
Having had a career in film composition since 1978, Jerry J. Grant, WSU '58, has scored and supervised or conducted nearly 500 episodes of television and features for film.

Career Achievement Award in the Field of Art and Art History, James Pearson Duffy Dept. of Art and Art History
Ray Katz, sculptor, art professor, Oakland Community College
Professor Katz studied at the College for Creative Studies and at Eastern Michigan University where he earned his BFA. In 1968 Katz earned his MFA in sculpture from Wayne State University. Katz's sculptures have been exhibited across the US and in Japan and France.

Career Achievement Award in the Field of Theatre, Maggie Allesee Dept. of Theatre and Dance
Phyllis Somerville, actress on Broadway and for film and television
Phyllis Somerville's career as a professional actor began four decades ago when she made her Broadway debut in the musical Over Here! Later credits include stage's Once in a Lifetime and I Remember Mama; film's Arthur, Leap of Faith and Little Children; and TV's NYPD Blue, Law & Order and House of Cards.

Career Achievement Award in the Field of Communication, Department of Communication
Elliot Wilhelm, film curator for the Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts
Elliot Wilhelm founded the DIA's Detroit Film Theatre in 1973 and has served since then as its director. He is curator of film and video for the DIA since 1984. Wilhelm also is host of Detroit Public Television's weekly Film Festival program.

The College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University serves 2,300 students majoring in 16 undergraduate and 11 graduate programs through the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History, the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, the Department of Music and the Department of Communication.

Wayne State University, located in the heart of Detroit's Midtown Cultural Center, is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.