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Marsha Minton
College of Arts and Sciences

Last modified: Wednesday, October 24, 2007

IU College of Arts and Sciences to honor three at annual banquet

Oct. 24, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Choosing a major at Indiana University was a puzzle for Will Shortz. Luckily, puzzles are his forte. Now the crossword editor for The New York Times, Shortz is the only graduate of Indiana University -- or any academic institution -- to hold a degree in "enigmatology."

Shortz will be honored with the IU College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award at the College's 2007 Annual Recognition Banquet on Nov. 2. Fine Arts Professor Jeffrey Wolin will be honored with the Distinguished Faculty Award, and filmmaker Jessica Petelle-Slagle will receive the College's Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

The event is in the Indiana Memorial Union Building's Tudor Room, with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and dinner following at 7 p.m. For additional banquet information, call 812-855-7934 or email

Games and puzzles

Will Shortz

Photo by: Donald Christensen

Will Shortz

Will Shortz was born in Crawfordsville, Ind., and published his first puzzle when he was only 14. By age 16 he had become a regular contributor to Dell puzzle publications. After graduating from IU with his degree from the Individualized Major Program in 1974, he attended law school at the University of Virginia, then returned to the puzzle world as editor of Games magazine.

While at Games, Shortz founded the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which held its 30th competition this year. He also became Puzzlemaster for National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition Sunday.

"In 1993, Shortz joined The New York Times as crossword editor, still continuing his roles with NPR and directing the ACPT. During the next decade, he founded the World Puzzle Championship and served as captain of the U.S. team, contributed riddles to the 1995 movie Batman Forever, was named one of "The 100 Best People in the World" by Esquire magazine, and served as a visiting professor at IU through the Wells Scholars program.

Shortz has written or edited more than 200 books of crosswords, Sudoku and other brain teasers. He was also the subject of the 2006 feature film Wordplay, celebrating the phenomenon of Shortz's crosswords in The New York Times, which reach an estimated 50 million people each week.

Photographer and ethnographer

Jeff Wolin

Jeff Wolin

Jeffrey A. Wolin, Ruth N. Halls Professor of Photography in the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, is both photographer and ethnographer, chronicling the stories of Holocaust survivors, Vietnam War veterans and recent immigrants in Indiana, among others. His work is in the permanent collections of more than 30 institutions, including New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, and Chicago's Art Institute and Museum of Contemporary Art. Exhibitions of his photographs have crossed the globe, reaching as far as Italy, Poland, Australia and Japan.

Wolin's first post as a professional photographer was with the Kalamazoo Police Department in Michigan shortly after he completed his bachelor's degree at Kenyon College in 1972. He then moved to Rochester, N.Y., where he completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1977 and served as head of photographic services for George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film from 1976 to 1980.

Wolin joined the Indiana University faculty in 1980. He has since received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in addition to a Guggenheim fellowship. His published books include Written in Memory: Portraits of the Holocaust, Ancient Provence: Layers of History in Southern France, and Inconvenient Stories: Vietnam War Veterans.

His teaching and service record match that of his professional excellence. Wolin has served two terms as director of the Henry Radford School, and last year was named an Honored Educator by the Midwest Regional Society for Photographic Education.

Light, camera, action

Jessica Petelle-Slagle

Jessica Petelle-Slagle

Making Indiana a hotbed of film production is the goal of Jessica Petelle-Slagle, executive producer of Drexel Box Films. After three years in Los Angeles, she transplanted her independent film work to her home state, becoming an advocate for state legislation supporting film production and serving on the board of directors of the Indiana Media Industry Network.

Originally from Churubusco, Ind., Petelle-Slagle graduated from IU in 2000 with bachelor's degrees in telecommunications, theatre and drama. Her first position as an executive assistant at Gracie Films earned her an Emmy certificate for her work on Outstanding Animated Program award winner The Simpsons. While at Gracie, Petelle-Slagle collaborated on independent projects with friends from IU who had also traveled west to work in the film industry.

Realizing that nearly all the group's script ideas centered on Indiana or the Midwest, Petelle-Slagle decided to relocate in order to coordinate production from the heartland. Forming Drexel Box Productions with several of her fellow alumni, in 2003 she produced her first full-length feature, Joshua, a horror film shot in South Bend, Ind.

Returning to L.A., her recent projects span a diverse range of subject matter, from time travel in 11 Minutes Ago to circus life in Little Big Top. She is still involved in the Indiana Media Industry Network, and she has cofounded Hollywood Hoosiers, a club for IU alumni working in the entertainment industry.