Ardis J. Krainik, 67, the visionary director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago who died Jan. 18  at her home in Chicago after a long illness, will be honored with the Northwestern University Alumni Medal.
The medal, the highest honor given by the Alumni Association, will be awarded posthumously at the annual alumni dinner April 12. The award recognizes an individual who has earned national recognition for his or her achievements and has served the University in volunteer capacities.
Miss Krainik, a Life Trustee of the University, earned a bachelor's degree from the School of Speech in 1951. She returned to Northwestern for graduate study in voice before joining the opera company in its first season, in 1954, as an executive secretary to Lyric co-founder Carol Fox.
Miss Krainik never left Lyric. During her first five years at the company the mezzo-soprano performed small singing roles, but gave up the stage in 1960 when she was appointed assistant manager.
"I liked singing and I was a good actress," Miss Krainik once said in an interview, "but more important to me was the running of something."
Miss Krainik proved to be a master at running Lyric. Although Fox had shaped Lyric into one of the world's top opera companies, the organization was facing financial ruin and artistic problems by 1981, when the board fired Fox and asked Miss Krainik, who had already been handling day-to-day artistic decisions, to take over.
As the new general manager of Lyric (her title was changed to general director in 1987), Miss Krainik demonstrated remarkable ability in both artistic and financial matters.
She began by working financial miracles, rescuing the company from the brink of bankruptcy by slashing the budget during her first year. Under Miss Krainik's leadership, the company not only slipped out of the red but raised millions of dollars to purchase the theater and offices in 1993 and complete renovation and improvement projects. Opera attendance soared, and for the last eight years the company has sold more than 100 percent of its capacity.
Miss Krainik's artistic wizardry was no less impressive. She hired fashionable directors and designers. She wooed major international stars but was not afraid to stand up to difficult ones. She made international headlines in 1989 when she announced that Luciano Pavarotti, a no-show at the company's production of "Tosca," would no longer be welcome at Lyric.
In 1989, Ms. Krainik announced Lyric's commitment to modern opera by establishing a 10-year series, "Toward the 21st Century," that would present two 20th-century operas Ñ including newly commissioned works Ñ every season. "I want American opera to reach its zenith," she declared in 1990.
Miss Krainik demonstrated equal commitment to Northwestern. A member of the Women's Board, the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Manage-ment Advisory Council, School of Music Visiting Committee and School of Speech National Advisory Council, she received the Alumnae Award in 1982, the Merit Award in 1986 and an honorary doctor of fine arts degree in 1984. A former Associate, Miss Krainik was a national trustee from 1990 to 1996, when she was named Life Trustee. She spoke at NU-Day in 1990 and the School of Speech Commencement in 1991. In 1987, the Ardis Krainik Scholarship Fund was established in Ms. Krainik's honor at Kellogg.
Miss Krainik, a native of Manitowoc, Wis., is survived by a niece; a brother-in-law; and two nephews. At her request, no funeral or memorial service will be held.