Hendriks paves way for student research

In the late 1940s postwar Americans began their infatuation
with modern convenience. Meanwhile, in King Chapel, a young
geology professor named Herb Hendriks ’40 spoke out
against this disposable society while advocating for a course in environmental science.

Environmental studies program founder and supporter Herb Hendriks '40, teaching during the 1960s.
Environmental studies program founder and supporter Herb Hendriks ’40, teaching during the 1960s.

In the late ’60s the environmental movement emerged and
Hendriks’ course finally took root. Then in 1975 he founded
Cornell’s environmental studies program, the first in the
Associated Colleges of the Midwest and one of the first in
the nation.

Hendriks’ support for the program continued even after his
retirement in 1983. He founded the Herb and Luretta Hendriks
Student Research Fund to which he has given more than
$52,000 over the years. The fund supports student/faculty
summer research projects, as well as offsetting costs for
students who present their work at the Cornell Student
or professional conferences.

“I’m a firm believer in the value of student research,” said
Hendriks. “When I retired, many of the funding resources
that we had available in the early ’60s and ’70s, such as the
National Science Foundation, were drying up. I wanted a
backup to help students pay for field research.”env-studies-hendriks-geode

Hendriks’ leadership inspired the class of 1958 to make its
own gift to the environmental studies program in his honor at
its 50th reunion this year. Organized by Gib Drendel ’58 and
John Dean ’58, the gift stood at $550,000 as of the end of
march. The class gave an additional $80,311 to the Hendriks
Student Research Fund.

Hendriks is pleased that future students will enjoy the types
of off-campus learning that he first experienced as a Cornell
student, as well as an environment that encourages the
constant questioning and testing of ideas.

“At my high school, in both physics and chemistry, we had
demonstrations; students did not get in and participate in the
actual scientific process,” Hendriks said. “When I came to
Cornell, and Neil Miner started involving us in various ways in
the learning process, I was sold … it was exciting.”