Alumni honors

A highlight of Homecoming is recognizing outstanding alumni who have contributed to the world in general and Cornell in particular, the addition of a class to the Athletics Hall of Fame, and the naming of Alumni Coach of the Year.

Watch videos of all the Homecoming 2012 awards presentations

Distinguished Achievement Award

John Smith '71 Distinguished Achievement Award
Cornell President Jonathan Brand and John Smith ’71

John Smith ’71 received the Distinguished Achievement Award, the highest joint honor given by the college and the Cornell College Alumni Association. Smith was recognized for both his business success—he was president of CRST International and has been a leader in the shipping and transport industry—as well as his work with the college’s board of trustees. Smith, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was chair of the board and served as the chair of the record-breaking Extraordinary Opportunities campaign. He and his wife, Dyan, an honorary alumna, have also been active philanthropists, supporting causes across the spectrum of education, healthcare, economic development, and the arts. One of the major initiatives they supported was Block by Block, which is still working to return homeowners in Cedar Rapids to flood-damaged properties, and has been hailed as a model of community-supported disaster recovery.

“I do believe that following your passion, great results will follow,” Smith said. “I’m passionate about my family, my business, my community, and my college in Mount Vernon, Iowa. … What I consider my finest accomplishment as chairman of the board, is to attract and hire the new president Jonathan Brand. My time as leader of Cornell is coming to an end, but I’m more confident now in the future of Cornell than I have ever been, particularly under Jonathan’s leadership.”

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Leadership and Service Awards

Phil Sieff ’82, an attorney in Minneapolis, recruited and oversaw a consortium of 17 law firms that provided legal services to victims of the I-35W bridge collapse. He arranged for totally free legal services and was in charge of managing the needs of the consortium’s 100-plus bridge collapse clients. In his acceptance speech, Sieff spoke about how Cornell reinforced his belief that those with the ability have a moral obligation to help those in need. Read more

Gail Cummings Andersen ’87 and Maureen “Mo” Johnson ’87, co-class agents for the class of 1987, were honored for their 25 years of service. The pair write their class letters from opposite coasts but with the same panache and love for Cornell. Andersen, who lives in Portland, Ore., said, “Never did we envision what a wonderful opportunity it has been. As a class agent we get the opportunity of hearing first the great news about Cornell and our classmates that we get to share with the rest of our class … I get to rant and rave about this great place where I went to school.”

Johnson, who lives in New York City, added, “We’re just so proud to represent the college. Wherever I am located, wherever I’m traveling, I’m proud to say I’m from Cornell and I make very clear it’s the purple school and not the red-and-white.” Read more

Gerald Koenig ’49, who died in 2011, was a community servant, veteran, and entrepreneur. At age 73 he became president of Wake Up America of Southwest Florida, an all-volunteer non-profit that collects and distributes $2.5 million worth of free food each year. Accepting on his behalf at the Alumni Board Homecoming luncheon were daughters Lisa Koenig Reitzel ’78 and Julie Koenig-Hill ’81. Read more

Young Alumni Award

Tahllee Baynard ’97, of Stanford, Calif., is research science manager at Lockheed Martin and was named 2012 Scientist of the Year by Black Engineer magazine. He’s worked with Lockheed to develop systems to detect biohazards from long distances, as well as working with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. He and his wife, Alumni Board director Kanesha Lee Baynard ’94, have recruited five students to Cornell. Baynard reflected on the Cornell community in his acceptance speech. “A lot of times people talk about their college experience and the people they know and met at school,” he said. “The Cornell community goes much beyond that. When I run into an alum that I didn’t meet while I was a student and they say they’re from Cornell and I say that I’m from Cornell, we are already part of that community. … There is no place like Cornell.” Read more

Athletics Hall of Fame

Julie Carne Layne ’02 of Boulder, Colo., was a two-sport standout, making her mark as an All-American sprinter and one of the Rams’ most prolific soccer scorers. Cornell’s 2002 Senior Female Athlete of the Year enjoyed a banner final season on the track, which began with the 400-meter title at the Iowa Conference Indoor Championships. Layne was equally dynamic as a four-year soccer starter and three-time all-conference performer. Layne established Cornell records for goals, 20, and points, 53, scored in a season.

Aaron Stang ’92, of Richfield, Minn., a 12-time letterwinner in cross country and indoor/outdoor track & field, distinguished himself as one of the nation’s best in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Stang enjoyed a remarkable run with three consecutive third-place All-America performances in the steeplechase. He participated at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, earned all-conference cross country accolades, and was a team captain in both cross country and track & field.

Richard “Gus” Glasier ’67, of Carbondale, Colo., was a stalwart on the basketball court, the only Ram in school history to collect 1,000 points and 700 rebounds in a career. He is the program’s all-time rebound leader, grabbing 789 in just three seasons. In 1966–67, Glasier set school marks for most rebounds, 280, and best rebound average, 12.7 per game, in a season.

Fred Wright ’61, who died in 2011, fashioned a 52–6 career wrestling record and guided the Rams to Midwest Conference championships in 1958, 1960, and 1961. He was dominant in claiming back-to-back conference titles in 1960 and 1961. He also played defensive tackle on Cornell’s football team in 1959 and 1960.

Mike Tressel ’96, of Dewitt, Mich., was named the 2012 Alumni Coach of the Year. Tressel is in his sixth season as linebackers and special teams coach at Michigan State University. The Spartans are coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons. The 2011 team reached the inaugural Big Ten Championship game and capped an 11–3 season with an Outback Bowl win over Georgia. While at Cornell, Tressel became a two-time Academic All-American. He was part of two Midwest Conference championship football teams, including the undefeated 10–0 squad in 1992.

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