Homecoming: Generations

This year’s Homecoming theme, “A Proud Tradition, A Brilliant Future,” was particularly apt as Cornellians young and old were honored during what might as well have been called “Homecoming Convocation: Generations.”

Graduates of every decade from the 1940s–1990s received alumni and achievement awards. Among the recipients were Herbert Hendriks ’40, a former Cornell geology professor and sustainability innovator, who received an honorary doctorate of science, and Aleta Grillos Trauger ’68, who was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

Hendriks taught geology at Cornell from 1947–1983. He founded Cornell’s environmental studies program, one of the first in the nation, in 1975, and was a long-time proponent of sustainability research. A strong believer in field research, Hendriks was visiting professor at Miami University of Ohio Field Station (formerly Camp Norton) in Wyoming during the summers of 1960–1982, and, with his wife, Luretta Tipton Hendriks ’43, set up the Hendriks Student Research Fund. He’s been an active member in both the Cornell and geology communities.

Trauger is the first female U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee, and has had a distinguished legal career. After three years of teaching in the United States and England, Trauger switched to law, where she earned national recognition as one of the attorneys who successfully prosecuted former Tennessee Gov. Ray Blanton in 1981 for extortion, conspiracy, and mail fraud. She has also served as chief of staff for Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen, and was appointed U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee in 1993.

Congressman David Loebsack, professor emeritus of politics, returned to campus to accept his Honorary Alumni Award, making the long-time professor turned politician an official member of the Cornell alumni family. Loebsack taught at Cornell from 1982 until his election to Congress in 2006.

Two other alumni were honored, as Jason Kolowski ’98 received the Young Alumni Achievement Award for his work in the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s Department of Forensic Biology, where he helped identify victims of the 9/11 attacks. Gilbert Drendel ’58 received the Leadership and Service Award for his service as a Class Agent since 1976, as a trustee since 1992, and as board chair from 2002 till 2005.