The 2007 College of Arts & Sciences Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Will Shortz by Dean Bennett I. Bertenthal at the Annual Recognition Banquet held on Friday, November 2, 2007 in Bloomington.
Individualized Major Program
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 IU – or any academic institution – to hold a degree in “enigmatology.”
Born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Shortz 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 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 New York Times crosswords, which reach an estimated 50 million people each week.