Diverse careers all lead to awards
The annual Homecoming Convocation was packed with amazing alumni who were honored for their work and their service to the college.
Dennis Bark ’64 was given the Distinguished Achievement Award, the college’s highest award. Bark is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In his 44 years at the institution he’s written and lectured extensively on European affairs and the relationships between the United States and both France and Germany. In 1997 he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit, First Class, by Germany, and in 2001 France presented him with the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. Bark helped establish funding for the Earhart-Cornell Lectures on the Liberal Arts and the Public Square, which brought Antonin Scalia, Stephen Jay Gould, Samantha Power, and others to campus.
Derek Johnson ’04 and Harper Reed ’01 were given the Young Alumni Achievement Award. Reed served as the chief technology officer for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and before that, for the ultra-hip clothing retailer Threadless, where he helped pioneer the use of crowdsourcing in commerce. His cutting edge work in in new technology also led to recognition in Chicago in 2014 when the Chicago Tribune labeled him “one to watch” and Crain’s Chicago Business named him to their 40 under 40 list. His new venture, Modest, is described as “Chicago’s most-anticipated technology startup.”
Johnson is executive director of Global Zero, an initiative dedicated to the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide. He’s worked with international political, military, civic, and faith leaders, as well as mobilizing college and high school student organizations across the globe. He has been selected to join the Young Munich Leaders group of rising stars in foreign and security policy at the 2015 Munich Security Conference—the world’s preeminent forum for senior government officials and civil society leaders dedicated to peaceful conflict resolution and international cooperation.
Ralph “Chris” Christoffersen ’59, one of three Leadership and Service Award winners, has spent a lifetime dedicated to biotech research in both the collegiate and private sectors. He was vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Kansas and president of Colorado State University, and his private-sector career included heading drug discovery at The Upjohn Co. and SmithKline Beecham, and leading Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals as president and CEO. He now focuses on new biotechnology investments as a general partner at Morgenthaler Ventures. In 2012 he and his wife, Barbara, honored his long friendship with Professor Bill Deskin by creating the William Deskin Chair in chemistry.
Nick Even ’84, Leadership and Service award-winner, is chair of international corporate law firm Haynes and Boone’s national securities and shareholder litigation practice, where he has served as defense counsel in more than 100 shareholder class actions and other securities-related proceedings. He also serves as vice president of the Dallas Opera Board, as a trustee of the Dallas Opera Foundation, and as a director of The Arts Community Alliance. His service has also extended to Lambda Legal, the Human Rights campaign, and The American Red Cross.
Christine Larsen ’83, also a Leadership and Service Award winner, is chief operations officer for First Data, where she leads the company’s global operations, overseeing 13,000 employees. Before joining First Data, she was executive vice president at JPMorgan Chase & Co., where she was responsible for firm-wide process improvement and managed the integration efforts of the high-profile merger with Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. She holds a master’s degree in information management from Syracuse University, which she serves as a trustee, and is chair of the Foundation Board of the Borough of Manhattan Community College.