Institute for the Arts and Humanities

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Past Programs

IAH Medal for Distinguished Achievement

Established in 2006, the Medal honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts and humanities and whose work has furthered public awareness of the importance of scholarship, literature, and the arts. During their time on campus, honorees engage in a series of activities – a public lecture, a seminar with graduate students and faculty, a taped public-broadcasting interview. The inaugural recipient of this award was internationally acclaimed novelist and public intellectual Salman Rushdie. The Medal, designed by award-winning medalist and Penn State alumna Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, is awarded annually. The program is made possible by generous funding from a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant, awarded to the Institute in 2002.

2013 Award Winner: Patti Smith


The IAH is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Achievement will be Patti Smith. Ms. Smith is an artist who is difficult to categorize. Known primarily for her talents as a singer and songwriter, she is also an accomplished writer, poet, photographer, and political activist.

Her recorded studio albums include Horses (1975), Radio Ethiopia (1976), Easter (1978), which contains the single Because the Night, (co-written with Bruce Springsteen), and, most recently, Banga (2012). Her life and work form the subject of the 2008 documentary film, Patti Smith: Dream of Life. Ms. Smith has previously received awards such as her inclusion in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, and a National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids. In 2007 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On October 15, 2013 the IAH will hosted “An Evening With Patti Smith” at the Eisenhower Auditorium. After a brief ceremony to present her with the IAH Medal, Ms. Smith offered a performance of her music.


WPSU interview with Ms. Smith
A Conversation with Rock Legend Patti Smith
Bonus Interview With Patti Smith

Centre Daily Times
‘Godmother of punk’ goes organic: IAH to honor Patti Smith with achievement medal

Onward State
Punk Rock isn’t Dead: Music Legend Patti Smith to Grace Eisenhower Stage

Past IAH Medal Winners