Press releases

Cornish College of the Arts Board of Trustees Announces Honorary Doctorate Recipients for 2024

Mar 27, 2024

SEATTLE, WA — The Cornish College of the Arts Board of Trustees unanimously approved the awarding of the honorary doctorate degree to World-Renowned Multi-Disciplinary Artist Ginny Ruffner, Radio Broadcasting Legend Jim Wilke, and Arts & Culture Innovator Tom Mara.

“We are honored to recognize Ginny Ruffner, Jim Wilke, and Tom Mara with honorary doctorate degrees for their profound impact on the arts and culture sector,” stated Cornish President Raymond Tymas-Jones. “Their advocacy and dedication have not only enriched the lives of citizens in King County and beyond but have also inspired generations with their boundless creativity and unwavering commitment to their respective fields.”

Ginny Ruffner shines as a luminary in contemporary art, embodying creativity, resilience, and innovation throughout her extensive career. Mastering diverse mediums such as sculpture, glassblowing, painting, and digital technology, her boundary-defying artworks captivate audiences globally, displayed in esteemed galleries and public spaces. Garnering numerous awards, such as the American Craft Council Gold Medal, her groundbreaking contributions to glass art inspire generations of artists while her advocacy for environmental conservation and social justice amplifies the impact of her work beyond the art world. Through her boundless creativity and unwavering passion, Ginny’s legacy underscores the enduring significance of art in fostering connections and shaping a more inclusive world for future generations.

Jim Wilke, an esteemed figure in Seattle’s music community, is celebrated as a passionate advocate and expert in broadcast radio. With a lifelong dedication to showcasing musical excellence and nurturing emerging talent, Jim has left an indelible mark on the city’s cultural landscape. Pioneering iconic jazz programs, his encyclopedic knowledge and distinctive voice have made him a trusted authority, elevating Seattle’s music scene globally. Through acclaimed radio shows like “Jazz Northwest,” Jim has provided a platform for both established luminaries and rising artists, fostering collaboration and camaraderie. Beyond radio, his roles as a producer, promoter, and arts advocate underscore his tireless efforts in preserving jazz legacy and enriching Seattle’s cultural tapestry. Jim Wilke’s enduring passion and commitment serve as a timeless inspiration, ensuring his legacy resonates for future generations.

Tom Mara, a visionary leader based in Seattle, WA, is celebrated for his profound impact on the cultural landscape, particularly through his transformative work with the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Tom’s deep ties to the community drive his passion for nurturing artistic expression and cinematic excellence. During his tenure at SIFF, he has propelled the festival to global prominence, expanding its reach and diversifying its offerings to showcase a mosaic of cinematic masterpieces while amplifying the voices of emerging filmmakers. Through innovative programming initiatives, Tom has fostered inclusive spaces for dialogue and engagement within the film community. His commitment to using film as a catalyst for social change is evident in SIFF’s initiatives, addressing pressing societal issues and uplifting underrepresented voices. Beyond SIFF, Tom collaborates with local artists and organizations to promote creativity and artistic innovation, leaving an indelible mark on Seattle’s cultural identity and inspiring many to embrace visual storytelling’s transformative power. As a visionary leader and advocate for cultural diversity, Tom Mara’s legacy transcends the silver screen, shaping Seattle’s cultural fabric. 

Cornish College of the Arts is also proud to announce Tom Mara as the keynote speaker for the 2024 Commencement Ceremony.

Cornish College of the Arts will confer this recognition at the 2024 Commencement Ceremony at Benaroya Hall on Monday, May 6, 2024 at 2pm.


For more information about Ginny Ruffner, please visit

For more information about Jim Wilke, please click here

For more information about Tom Mara, please click here.

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