Press Release

Illinois Humanities Council to Honor Bruce Sagan and Bette Cerf Hill with 2012 Public Humanities Award

Benefit Luncheon Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at the Union League Club of Chicago

 CHICAGO, IL- April 4, 2012The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) will be honoring Chicago cultural icons Bruce Sagan and Bette Cerf Hill with the 2012 Public Humanities Award at the IHC’s annual benefit luncheon on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at the Union League Club of Chicago.

Given annually by the IHC since 1984, the Public Humanities Award recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions to public understanding of the role the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities.  Past awardees have included Jack Wing, Chairman Emeritus of the Chicago Corporation; Carlos Tortolero, Founder and Executive Director of the National Museum of Mexican Art; Mary Dempsey, Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library; and The Honorable Abner and Zoe Mikva.

Through their work, Bruce and Bette have breathed new life into Chicago and its neighborhoods through the humanities, and given civic purpose to their cultural activities.

Bruce Sagan has spent more than half a century reporting, writing and publishing for and about the neighborhoods and the communities of the Chicago area. He has been publisher of the Hyde Park Herald for 58 years, President of the Illinois Press Association and has served as Vice Chairman of the Chicago Public Library Board and Chairman of the Illinois Arts Council. He is on the Board of Directors of the Steppenwolf Theater Company, the Joffrey Ballet, the Chicago Public Library Foundation, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and serves on the Management Committee of Chicago’ classical music radio station, WFMT. 

Bette Cerf Hill is a painter, poet and a community activist who founded the Near South Planning Board, was Deputy Commissioner of the Bicentennial Commission, a state agency, the Executive Director of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois and a board member of The Chicago Architecture Foundation. Hill founded the Printers Row Book Fair (now known as the Printers Row Lit Fest), has served as a State of Illinois, Public Art Advisory Committee Member and served on the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. Hill is a founding advisory board member of the Rush Neurological Behavioral Center for children with brain-based problems. Additionally, Hill is a founding board member of the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago.   

“Bruce and Bette’s careers have embodied the work of the IHC and the role of the humanities by fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. We see that in the Printers Row Lit Fest, in the countless stories of Chicagoans shared through community newspapers, and among the ranks of thousands of youth and arts patrons touched by the organizations they’ve been a part of. Their work has contributed to Chicago’s cultural transformation in the last 30 years, and they are fully deserving of this prestigious honor.” Said Alton B. Harris, Illinois Humanities Council Board Chair.

The Co-Chairs for the event’s Host Committee are Jack Guthman, Attorney at Law at Shefsky & Froelich in Chicago and trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; Martha Lavey, Artistic Director for Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Robert Wislow, Chairman/CEO of U.S. Equities Realty, LLC; and IHC Board Member Joel Henning of Joel Henning & Associates. Among the current roster of Host Committee members are Fred Eychaner, Gigi Pritzker Pucker, Merle Reskin, and Arthur Wong.

The Public Humanities Award Luncheon will take place Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at the Union League Club of Chicago (65 West Jackson Boulevard) in Chicago, Illinois. Doors open at 11:30am with the program beginning at noon. For individual reservations and sponsorship opportunities, including the purchase of tables, please call Monika Collins at 312.422.5580 or visit All proceeds from the luncheon will support the Illinois Humanities Council. 

About the Illinois Humanities Council

The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. The IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.

Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233 

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