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Eight Arts & Architecture alumni to return to campus to receive awards on Nov. 1

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2019 Alumni Award winners

The College of Arts and Architecture will honor eight alumni during its annual Alumni Awards Ceremony on Friday, November 1, at 4:15 p.m. in the Palmer Lipcon Auditorium, Palmer Museum of Art. The Arts and Architecture Alumni Awards were established more than 30 years ago with the purpose of recognizing the career achievements of Penn State alumni in the arts and design disciplines. The November 1 ceremony is open to the public.

This year’s awardees include Heather Darcy Bhandari (’99 M.F.A. Art), independent curator and programming director of Art World Conference; Colleen Bonniol (’87 B.A. Theatre), owner, CEO and executive for MODE Studios; Craig Byers (’85 B.A. Graphic Design), design director in Gensler’s Brand Experience Studio; Michael T. Pinto (’93 B.Arch.), design principal at NAC Architecture; Keli Rylance (’96 Ph.D. Art History), head librarian at St. Louis Art Museum; Michael Schutz (’02 B.M. Music, B.S. Computer Science), associate professor of music cognition/percussion at McMaster University; and Bob Earl (’86 B.S. Landscape Architecture) and Don Hoover (’80 B.S. Landscape Architecture), cofounders of OCULUS Urban Design Landscape Architecture.

While on campus, the returning alumni connect with students and faculty and often deliver lectures. Read more about their accomplishments below.

Heather Darcy Bhandari, 1999 M.F.A. Art
Heather Bhandari is an independent curator; a co-founder of the project-based curatorial team and podcast, The Remix; an adjunct lecturer at Brown University; and the programming director of Art World Conference (AWC), a new business and financial literacy conference for visual artists that debuted in New York City in April 2019. She is also the author of the bookART/WORK, published by Simon and Schuster. 

Colleen Bonniol, 1987 B.A. Theatre
Colleen Bonniol is the owner, CEO, and executive for MODE Studios, a Seattle-based company specializing in media and interactive design. MODE has rendered top-tier applications that span the global architectural, entertainment, and marketing industries. They are a turnkey solution provider for immersive architectural installations, live events, broadcast, experiential marketing, and interactive experiences.

Craig Byers, 1985 B.A. Graphic Design
Craig Byers is the design director in Gensler’s Brand Experience Studio, based in New York. With power, meaning, and a holistic view, Craig leads brand creation and activation projects across all categories of business. He has acquired more than 25 years of experience in business and creative problem-solving, gained through working with diverse industries. 

Bob Earl, 1986 B.S. Landscape Architecture, and Don Hoover, 1980 B.S. Landscape Architecture
Long-time collaborators Bob Earl and Don Hoover are the co-founders of OCULUS Urban Design Landscape Architecture. Bob and Don co-founded OCULUS in 1993 in Washington D.C., where Don oversees the design, management, and implementation of a wide range of design and planning projects. Bob is now the sole director of studios in Sydney and Melbourne, with a close affiliation and collaboration with the OCULUS Washington D.C. studio working on specific projects and competitions.

Michael T. Pinto, 1993 B.Arch. Architecture
Michael Pinto has defined his 25-year career through practice driven by social purpose. His architecture focuses on disadvantaged communities, at-risk youth, educational systems, urban food systems, and our environment as an imperative service to society. As design principal at NAC Architecture in Los Angeles, Michael leads design from a position that places strong emphasis on community engagement, and he has guided teams to more than 30 design awards in his career. 

Keli Rylance, 1996 Ph.D. Art History
Keli Rylance is the head librarian at the Saint Louis Art Museum. An archivist and art historian, she started her career teaching art history at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. A postdoctoral fellowship at the Newberry Library kindled a desire to expand her research to include printing/book history and to pursue advanced training in archives/special collections management. 

Michael Schutz, 2002 B.M. Music, B.S. Computer Science
Michael Schutz is currently associate professor of music cognition/percussion at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where he conducts the percussion ensemble and teaches courses on music perception and cognition. He recently received the title of University Scholar in recognition of his innovative work bridging music performance and music perception. Prior to McMaster, Michael spent five years as director of percussion studies at Longwood University, taught percussion at Virginia Commonwealth University, and performed frequently with the Roanoke Symphony, Opera on the James, Oratorio Society of Virginia, and the Lynchburg Symphony.