Class of 1958 endows environmental studies

MOUNT VERNON – As part of their 50th reunion gift, the Cornell College class of 1958 has donated over $677,000 in cash, pledges, and planned gifts to Cornell to endow the environmental studies program and to fund a scholarship in environmental studies.

The gift honors long-time geology professor Herb Hendriks, who started one of the first environmental studies programs in the country at Cornell in 1975. The gift is being coordinated by lead donors Gib Drendel and John Mark Dean.

“There is a very great need for people who are informed about all aspects of the environment—political, social, economic, and environmental—and that’s why we set up this program,” said Hendriks. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the Class of 1958 gift. That gift is going to go a long, long way toward ensuring the program continues.”

“We need to ensure that, in the future, there will be people to look at the problem from all angles. Our environmental problems won’t go away, they’ll only increase, so it’s essential to keep student research and this program strong,” he added.

The bulk of the gift will endow the Cornell College Environmental Studies Program, a course of study that stresses sustainability across multiple disciplines—from politics to chemistry to geology and sociology. The other portion will fund a scholarship open to any junior or senior engaged in environmental studies, regardless of major.

Herb Hendriks, himself a 1940 graduate of Cornell, taught geology at Cornell from 1947 to 1983. He became interested in the sustainability of natural resources as early as the 1940s, and was finally able to offer that course in the 1960s. In 1975, he founded and directed the Cornell College Environmental Studies program—one of the first in the country and the first in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. He currently lives in the Methwick Community in Cedar Rapids

“It is extremely important that we have students who can examine environmental issues carefully and look at them from different angles, perhaps even more important than when Herb founded the program in 1975,” said Cornell College President Les Garner. “The Class of 1958 gift is an enduring way for Cornell to strengthen an already distinct program.”

The Class of 1958 gift is part of Cornell College’s comprehensive campaign Extraordinary Opportunities: The Campaign for Cornell College which will continue through December 2009. The campaign will enhance the Cornell experience by increasing the college’s endowment, upgrading its facilities, and enhancing the academic program.

For more information about the campaign or making a gift, visit or contact Peter Wilch, Vice President for Alumni and College Advancement at 319-895-4315 or