For two Cornell professors,
chemical bonds extend beyond the lab
Combined, Professors Truman Jordan and Addison Ault have spent more than 80 years teaching chemistry at Cornell College. Those who know them say their contributions extend well beyond the classroom. Over the past four decades the two have helped raise funds to support student research and attracted world-class speakers through their connections to the American Chemical Society and their shared alma mater, Harvard University. They also have given generously of their own money as members of the college’s Presidents Society—the premier giving group.
“The longer you spend at an institution,” says Jordan, who taught from 1966 to 2002, “the more you become aware of how much the institution depends on money from outside sources. Any money that can be gained from the outside, and not from the current students, makes the education that much more affordable and accessible. That’s something I am proud to support.”
Ault, who continues to teach half-time, agrees. Twenty years ago he encouraged former students, colleagues, and friends of Bill Deskin to establish the Deskin Fund, an endowment to support the kind of teaching and research with students that characterized Deskin’s 33-year career at Cornell College. The endowment is now almost $200,000 and has provided about $145,000 to the department.
Together, Ault and Jordan have brought several illustrious scientists to Cornell, including Victor Weisskopf and Nobel laureates Dudley Herschbach (who attended Harvard with Ault), William Lipscomb (research advisor to Jordan), and Roald Hoffmann (a member of Jordan’s Harvard graduate research group).
Both professors say it is these lifelong connections with colleagues and students that have made their careers so rewarding. On any given day, you may see one or both of them engaged in campus activities. Jordan continues to forge strong bonds with students on the intramural fields, and Ault has spent more than 25 years playing cello in the Cornell orchestra. Both have made an impact on generations of alumni—alumni such as Dr. Chris Ellerbroek ‘77. When Ellerbroek graduated he could not afford a Phi Beta Kappa key, so Jordan and Ault bought one for him. Ellerbroek told them that one day he would do something significant for the college. Twenty-five years later, the pediatric radiologist and his wife, Renee, donated $10,000 to Cornell to create a plaque for the honor society. Jordan and Ault also contributed.
“We believe in what Cornell does,” Ault says. “Because of that, we contribute our time and interests. We feel fortunate to be able to do it.”