John Driscoll ’71

history, art history
Award Year
BA, University of Minnesota Morris
PhD, Pennsylvania State University

John Driscoll ’71 is a recipient of the 2021 University of Minnesota Morris Distinguished Alumni Award for distinguished service to the school and its students.

Driscoll graduated from UMN Morris in 1971 with degrees in history and art history and earned a PhD in art history from Pennsylvania State University. He was owner and director of Driscoll Babcock Galleries in New York City.

His publications were extensive and, according to his obituary in the New York Times, his book John Frederick Kensett: An American Master established Driscoll “as a leading authority on that Hudson River artist known for luminist paintings.” He sold work to private collectors as well as museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Detroit Institute of Art, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He also donated work across the nation, such as giving 140 works to the Penn State Palmer Museum of Art.

Driscoll is remembered for his intelligence, kindness, humility, and droll sense of humor. Susan Schmidgall, senior director of advancement, notes all of these traits in her nomination. “In 2011, John very kindly hosted a UMM alumni gathering at the Babcock Driscoll Gallery. He thoughtfully served Minnesota’s Pearson Salted Nut Roll and Nut Goodie candy bars along with a range of Minnesota beers. He shared that he looked all over Manhattan for ‘walleye bites’ for his fellow Minnesotans, but to no avail!”

Driscoll and his former wife and fellow alumna, Jeanne Baker Driscoll ’69, were charter members of the Morris President’s Club in 1998. According to Madeline Maxeiner, former vice chancellor for external relations, “John and Jeanne remained devoted donors and actively engaged alumni despite their lack of proximity to the campus and the span of years since graduating. For example, as the Alumni Association founded the Morris Alumni Network, they were among the first volunteers to mentor students, offer career counseling, and return to campus for events. They believed wholeheartedly in the Morris mission and demonstrated that support both financially and in time spent.”

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John Driscoll