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Teacher, alumna left nearly $400,000 to Cornell

October 14, 2011

A longtime elementary teacher who also taught education at Cornell has left the college nearly $400,000, half of which will go toward restoring the college’s historic King Chapel.

The other half of the gift from the estate of Helen Danforth ’42 will go toward the college’s other building priorities.

Danforth, who died in July 2010, taught in Iowa, Michigan, Germany, and Illinois after her graduation from Cornell. In 1979 she returned to Mount Vernon and in 1981 began a second career as an education professor at Cornell. She was honored for her work with students with a memorial service at Homecoming in 2010, and for her longstanding dedication to the college at the Presidents Society dinner on Oct. 13, 2011.

Her gift will help the college’s $2.5 million restoration of King Chapel. This renovation project will repair exterior damage, alleviate the effects of settling, create a weather-tight building and add an elevator. In 2010, the main roof was repaired and worn slate shingles were replaced. Further improvements are set to start this fall.

Cornell President Jonathan Brand said the gift is another expression of Danforth’s dedication to education in general and Cornell College in particular.

“Helen’s especially long association with the college has contributed in numerous ways, culminating with a generous planned gift,” he said. “It’s fitting that part of her gift will help pay for the ongoing renovations of King Chapel, a building that has served as a touchstone for generations of Cornellians.”

One of the 40 “Colleges That Change Lives,” Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, is a national liberal arts college with a distinctive One Course At A Time (OCAAT) academic calendar. The OCAAT schedule provides students with intellectual immersion, academic focus, and unique freedom to shed the confines of the traditional classroom to study off-campus, pursue research, or accept an internship—all without missing out on other classes. Founded in 1853, the college’s entire hilltop campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information, please contact Jamie Kelly, director of media relations, at 319-895-4232 or Peter Wilch, vice president of alumni and college advancement at 319-895-4315.

For more information, please contact Cornell's Director of Media Relations

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