Columbia College honors three notable Chicagoans

Legendary doc producer/director Steve James

Columbia College will present honorary degrees to six prominent persons – three of them Chicagoans – in the entertainment, media and arts fields whose careers and legacies have been inspirational to Columbia College students, at spring commencement ceremonies.

Some 2,000 graduates of the school, with the largest US film school enrollment, will receive their degrees over two days, May 5-6, at the Chicago Theatre.

The three Chicago honorees:

Documentary filmmaker director/producer Steve James, is the possessor of countless critics’ prizes, including a Peabody and a Robert F. Kennedy Award, and numerous festival honors for such documentaries as “Hoop Dreams,” “The Interrupters, “Stevie,” “At the Death House Door” and others. He receives his honorary degree May 6 at 9 a.m.

Marketing legend Lee Flaherty founded his full-service Flair Communications, a marketing and communications agency in 1969, and in 1977 founded the world famous Chicago Marathon.  He is the recipient of many awards, including the 1979 Horatio Alger Award, Flair’s designation as one of the Top Ten Working Environments in America and voted the most admired agency in the marketing industry by Interactive Media Works and has an honorary Flair street sign on Erie St. He will be honored May 5 at 12:30 p.m.

Gospel singer Mavis Staples, began her career with the famous soul ensemble Staple Singers and went solo in 1069 when her self-titled album. She has continually released solo and collaborative music, most recently winning a 2011 Grammy for “Best Americana Album;” she is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, one of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll,” and Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner, among many others, receives her honorary degree May 6, 4 p.m.

Legendary music producer Phil Ramone of Los Angeles, one of the most respected and prolific music producers in the recording industry, started independent recording studio A&R Recording and produced music for many of famous singers and musicians.  He possesses 14 Grammy Awards and 33 Grammy nomination, an Emmy and more; a pioneer of many technology developments in the music industry over the years, he will be honored May 5 at 9 a.m.

Influential and innovative photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia of New York, known for creating images that balance between documentary and theatrically staged photography, whose work has been exhibited across the world, a teacher at Yale, will be honored May 5 at 4 p.m.

Video game designer/producer Warren Spector of Austin, Texas, best known for “System Shock” and “Deus Ex” series of games which changed how games approach the blend of storytelling gameplay and atmospherics, receives his honor May 6, 12:30 p.m.

Columbia College is the largest visual, performing, media and communications arts school in the US with more than 12,000 students in more than 120 undergraduate and graduate programs.