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Vanessa Cloe
IU College of Arts and Sciences

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, November 3, 2008

IU College of Arts and Sciences honors Cabot, Koryta and Sporns at annual banquet

Nov. 3, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Born and raised in Bloomington, Meg Cabot majored in fine arts at IU and worked as an illustrator for years before taking a chance on a writing career. Years of rejection later, Cabot won a contract with St. Martin's Press, through which she eventually published The Princess Diaries, the young-adult novel that would spawn a book and film series and alter the course of her career.

Cabot will be honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award at the 2008 College of Arts and Sciences Annual Recognition Banquet on Friday, Nov. 7. Mystery writer Michael Koryta will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award and Professor Olaf Sporns, associate chair in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, will receive the Distinguished Faculty Award at the event.

College Dean Bennett Bertenthal will preside over the banquet, which will take place in the Indiana Memorial Union's Alumni Hall with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and a dinner following at 7 p.m. "The College epitomizes the very best in higher education today," Bertenthal said "Our faculty members are world-class, our students represent some of the best and brightest, and our graduates achieve success in a diversity of professions.

"This year, we honor the achievements of two very talented alumni, Meg Cabot and Michael Kortya, both writers of fiction who bring great honor and distinction to their alma mater. We also honor Professor Olaf Sporns from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Well known for his pioneering research in the brain sciences, he is also an inspiring teacher and mentor who motivates students to strive for excellence in their studies," Bertenthal said.

Distinguished Alumni Award Meg Cabot, BA'91

Best known for her Princess Diaries series, which Walt Disney Pictures made into hit movies starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, Cabot has written more than 50 books in the genres of mystery, romance, occult and children's fiction.

Many of her books have made the best seller lists at The New York Times, USA Today and Publisher's Weekly. Her work continues to inspire television and film production, with projects currently in development based on her Heather Wells mystery series, Queen of Babble series and Mediator series.

She has always loved to write, but Cabot once believed that success as an author was beyond her grasp, so instead became an illustrator. She was prepared to shelve her literary career indefinitely until a family tragedy put her fear of rejection in perspective. Having determined that there were worse fates than being turned down by a publishing house, Cabot devoted herself to crafting and submitting romance novels.

The success of the Princess Diaries Disney movies propelled Cabot's literary career forward. She now maintains a busy schedule traveling the world on book tours, dividing her time between Key West and the Bloomington area. Read more about Cabot at her blog at

Outstanding Young Alumni Award Michael Koryta, BA'06

Born in Bloomington to two book-loving parents, Michael Koryta knew he wanted to be a writer from the time he could read.

Michael Koryta

Michael Koryta

Print-Quality Photo

Part-time high school jobs at The Bloomington Herald-Times and Trace Investigations allowed him to gain early professional experience with writing and private investigation. At just 20, Koryta carved out writing time from midnight to 3 a.m. whenever possible to complete what was to become his first published novel, Tonight I Said Goodbye. Both that novel and its sequel, Sorrow's Anthem, were published before his college graduation in 2006.

Attending IU allowed Koryta to continue writing while studying Criminal Justice and Political Science, both of which informed his fiction. Tonight I Said Goodbye won the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel and the Great Lakes Book Award for Best Mystery, and was nominated for an Edgar Award. His third novel, A Welcome Grave, was nominated for a Quill Award and earned praise from Publishers Weekly, Booklist and The New York Times.

Since his graduation from IU, Koryta has continued to distinguish himself as an author and private investigator. This past summer, he published his most recent novel, Envy the Night, and signed a three-book deal with Little, Brown to be edited by Michael Pietsch, who has worked with best-selling authors Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Anita Shreve.

2008 Distinguished Faculty Award Olaf Sporns

Olaf Sporns' research insights show promise in the areas of brain disease and recovery and the development of humanoid robots that can learn and interact extensively with human beings.

Sporns, a professor in the IU Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, gathers clues from fMRI scans, diffusion spectrum imaging (a form of noninvasive neuroimaging that maps nerve fibers), network simulations and even robotic models to develop a picture of the brain's architecture and how it exchanges information with its environment. Contrary to earlier notions of an inert brain waiting to receive input, his findings indicate that the brain is always active, even when not engaged in a specific task, and that it uses the body to seek information.

Born in Kiel, Germany, Sporns worked as a research assistant at the Max Plank Institute before coming to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. at Rockefeller University. He spent another 10 years working as a privately funded research fellow, but decided he wanted to share his passion in an academic setting and applied to IU in 2000. Since joining the IU faculty, Sporns has received the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award and the Trustees Teaching Award from the university, helped to edit several academic journals, and brought in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Ticket Information

Seating is limited. To register for the banquet, which is $30 per person, contact Vanessa Cloe at or 812-855-7934. For more information, see This year's banquet was sponsored, in part, by a gift from College alumni board member John Papageorge and the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister.