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Notable Alumni: Arts and Culture


John Armistead John Armistead (MA ’87)

  • Author of three mystery novels and two novels for teenagers
  • Accomplished painter
Glen Ballard Glen Ballard (BA ’75)

  • Five-time Grammy Award-winning producer, songwriter, and arranger
  • Has worked with Michael Jackson, Dave Matthews, Alanis Morisette, and Van Halen
Bill Beckwith II Bill Beckwith II (BFA ’74; MFA ’76)

  • Sculptor whose works include statues of William Faulkner on the Square in Oxford and Jefferson Davis at the Beauvoir Presidential Library in Biloxi, MS
Joe Camp Joe Camp (BBA ’61)

  • Film producer, director, and writer, best known for the “Benji” movies
Ellen Douglas Ellen Douglas (BA ’42)

  • Author of several acclaimed novels and short story collections, including “The Magic Carpet,” “A Family’s Affairs,” and “Can’t Quit You, Baby”
William Dunlap William Dunlap (MFA ’69)

  • Artist whose prolific body of work includes “Panorama of the American Landscape,” a 112-foot cyclorama for the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
Cynthia Geary Cynthia Geary (BA ’88)

  • TV actress and two-time Emmy nominee who portrayed Shelly Tambo on “Northern Exposure”
John Grisham John Grisham (JD ’81)

  • Best-selling author of legal dramas including “A Time to Kill”, “The Firm”, “The Client,” and “Runaway Jury”
Mary Donnelly Haskell Mary Donnelly Haskell (BM ’81)

  • Recording artist and actress
  • Appeared in several television series, including “Sisters” and “Touched by an Angel”
Sam Haskell III Sam Haskell III (BA ’77)

  • Former Executive Vice President and Worldwide Head of Television for the William Morris Agency
Guy Hovis Guy Hovis (BBA ’63)

  • Recording artist who starred on “The Lawrence Welk Show”
Greg Iles Greg Iles (BA ’83)

  • Best-selling author of novels in a variety of genres, including “Spandau Phoenix,” “Black Cross,” and “Mortal Fear”
Greg Iles Kate Jackson (’68)

  • Actress best known for her role as Sabrina Duncan in the 1970s television series, “Charlie’s Angels”
Bryan Kennedy Bryan Kennedy  (BA ’03)

  • Writer of numerous hit songs for Garth Brooks, including “American Honky Tonk Bar Association”
George McConnell George McConnell  (BA ’86)

  • Guitarist and vocalist for the band Widespread Panic
Gerald McRaney Gerald McRaney (BA ’66)

  • TV actor and star of television shows, “Major Dad,” “Simon and Simon,” and “Promised Land”
Dr. Darden North Dr. Darden North (BA ’78; MD ’82)

  • Author of medical mystery thriller novels, “House Call” and “Raging Hormones”
  • Practices obstetrics and gynecology in Jackson, MS
Rivers Rutherford Rivers Rutherford  (BA ’89)

  • Writer of hit songs for Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, and other contemporary country music performers
  • Wrote “American Remains,” recorded in 1989 by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson
Patrick Smith Patrick Smith (BA ’47, MA ’59)

  • Renowned artist, historian and author
  • Three-time nominee for Pulitizer Prize, 1973,1974,1978
  • 1985 nominee for Nobel Prize for Literature
Ruth Szescila Beth Szescila (BA ’69)

  • Appraiser on PBS series, “Antiques Roadshow”
  • Contributing editor of the reference book, “Antiques for Dummies”


Larry Thompson Larry Thompson (BBA ’66; JD ’68)

  • Producer of numerous motion pictures and television series, specials, and made-for-TV movies
  • Founding partner of an entertainment law firm who negotiated the breakup of the Beatles and orchestrated a $300 million dollar merger between Harrahs and Holiday Inn
Ella Torrey Ella Torrey  (MA ’84)

  • Late President of the San Francisco Art Institute
  • Founder of Pew Fellowhip in art
Glenray Tutor  (BA ’74; MFA ’76)

  • Artist known for popular town and city scenes


Dan Tyler Dan Tyler (BA ’72; JD ’75)

  • Accomplished songwriter, music publisher, entertainment attorney, and author
Nancy Van de Vate Nancy Van de Vate (MM ’58)

  • Orchestral composer whose works include “Chernobyl,” “Der Herrscher und das Maedchen,” and “In the Shadow of the Glen”
  • Resides in Vienna, where she was granted dual citizenship by the Austrian government in recognition of her accomplishments
Nancy Van de Vate Jim Weatherly (’64)

  • 1974 Nashville Songwriters Association International Songwriter of The Year
  • Received more than 30 writer awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers
  • Dean Martin, Charlie Pride, The Indigo Girls, Lee Greenwood, and Kenny Rogers have all recorded his songs
Arthur Williams (MFA ’71)

  • Sculptor and author of “The Sculpture Reference Illustrated”


Stark Young Stark Young (BA 1901)

  • Poet, novelist, essayist, and dramatist