Arts & Sciences presents alumni, dean’s awards

Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis recognized four alumni and a friend of the school for their achievements, service and commitment to the liberal arts during its Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner, held April 11 at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis.

Feng Sheng Hu, the Richard G. Engelsmann Dean of Arts & Sciences, presented the Early Career Achievement Award to Brittany Packnett Cunningham, AB ’06, an interdisciplinary activist, creative and equity executive, and founder and principal of Love & Power Works, a full-service social impact agency, under which she has built multiple projects and served diverse communities and industries. She is also host and executive producer of news and justice podcast “Undistracted,” in its third season on the Meteor Network, and an on-air political analyst.

The Early Career Achievement Award goes to a graduate of Arts & Sciences who is 45 or younger and who has made momentous strides in their professional field.

The Dean’s Medal, awarded to an individual who has, through dedication, support, leadership, advice and inspiration, kept Arts & Sciences at the forefront of one of the world’s premier educational institutions, was presented to Richard G. “Dick” Engelsmann, a St. Louis business leader and philanthropist who, in 2023, endowed the deanship in Arts & Sciences.

Engelsmann’s father earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from WashU in 1921 and his late wife earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion design from the university in 1965. Engelsmann, his father and his brother founded Beltservice Corp. in 1969. The company grew to become one of the world’s leading fabricators of custom conveyor belts and a major belting wholesaler.

The recipients of the Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award are:

  • Lisa Sharkey, AB ’80, senior vice president and director of creative development at HarperCollins, where her team has acquired numerous high-profile nonfiction books, including more than 75 New York Times bestsellers.
  • John C. Solenberger, PhD ’69, who retired after a decorated career at DuPont. He led the development of global standards — adopted by 190 nations — that govern materials used in motors, transformers and lighting systems.
  • Rochelle Walensky, MD, AB ’91, an infectious disease clinician who has served as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

View videos of the award recipients on the Arts & Sciences website.

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