Art, music, and literature

These alumni are recognized for their work in art, music, and literature.


Joseph Rutherford “Rudd” Simmons

Joseph Rutherford “Rudd” Simmons (theatre arts 1975) is a film and television producer whose credits include “The Road,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “High Fidelity,” and “Dead Man Walking,” among many other notable projects.

Michelle Krusiec

Michelle Krusiec (theatre arts 1995), the former host of “Travelers” on the Discovery Channel, has made more than 30 guest appearances on primetime television shows. In 2002, Krusiec premiered her original one-woman show, “Made in Taiwan,” at the HBO Aspen Comedy Festival, where Hollywood Reporter named her one of its Top Ten Rising Stars. Krusiec’s performance in the Alice Wu film “Saving Face” garnered her a Best Actress nomination for the Golden Horse award, Asia's equivalent to the American Academy Award.

Sharyn E. McCrumb

Sharyn E. McCrumb (M.A. English 1985) has written 21 novels (as of 2010) that explore culture, especially Appalachian culture, and has won numerous awards for her books, including a Kentucky Colonel honorary title. Several of her novels have made the New York Times best-seller list, and she is the only three-time winner of the Agatha Award.

Lisa Norris

Lisa Norris (forestry 1979) received the 1999 Willa Cather Fiction Prize from Helicon Nine Press for her short fiction book, Toy Guns.

Homer Hickam

Homer Hickam (industrial and systems engineering 1964) has written several best-selling novels, including Rocket Boys, which was made into the film “October Sky.” His books often reference his life experiences, which include growing up in a coal-mining town, serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, working as an engineer for the U.S. Army Missile Command and NASA, and scuba diving.

Charlie L. Byrd

Charlie L. Byrd (business administration 1946) was an internationally famous, classically trained jazz guitar virtuoso who recorded more than 100 albums and helped introduce the bossa nova to the United States. His records included the million-seller "Jazz Samba” and the Grammy-nominated "Brazilian Soul.” He also wrote scores for films and music for stage productions and made several international trips as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department. (Did not graduate.)

Walter J. Biggs Jr.

Walter J. Biggs Jr. (1906) was a nationally known illustrator for Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, House & Garden, and other magazines. His status as one of the nation’s foremost illustrators was firmly established with his 1963 election into the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame.

Harper Dean

Harper Dean (horticulture 1904), a special writer for Country Gentleman and Saturday Evening Post, achieved fame in the field of journalism. In 1922, his story "The Reverend Meddler” in Country Gentleman was made into the movie “Go Straight.”