Six alumni to be honored for their service to Yale at annual assembly

Six individuals have been selected by the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) to receive the Yale Medal in 2012, to be conferred at the AYA Assembly LXXII in November.

Inaugurated in 1952, the Yale Medal is the highest award presented by the AYA and is conferred solely to recognize and honor outstanding individual service to the University. Since its inception, the Yale Medal has been presented to 287 individuals — all of whom, according to the AYA, not only showed extraordinary devotion to the ideals of the University, but also were conspicuous in demonstrating their support of Yale through extensive, exemplary service on behalf of Yale as a whole or one of its many schools, institutes, or programs.

This year’s recipients are Edward J. Greenberg '59, Richard J. Franke '53, Ellen Gibson McGinnis '82, Nancy A. Stratford '77, Robert E. Steele '71 M.P.H., '75 Ph.D., and David Swensen '80 Ph.D. The medalists will be honored at a dinner on Friday, Nov. 9, in Yale Commons during the annual assembly of AYA delegates and invited guests.

The citations for this year’s medalists follow:

Edward Greenberg exemplifies what we always hope a Yale alumni volunteer will be, consistently devoting his personal time and talent to ensure that whatever he is working on is successful. As secretary of the Class of 1959, he presided over the creation of the 1959 Calhoun Fund for Excellence, and 1959 became the first class to endow a Yale Summer Service Fellowship, a program he and his wife, Susan, actively support. He encouraged and chaired several 1959 mini reunions. His contributions extend throughout the University, serving on the AYA and Alumni Fund Boards, as the Class of 1959’s 50th reunion chair, a class agent and as president of the Yale Alumni Chorus Foundation. In 2008, he spearheaded the revitalization of the Yale Club of Stamford, CT and four other local relatively inactive clubs, successfully recruiting and motivating area alumni to work together to form the much larger Yale Club of Lower Fairfield County.

Richard J. Franke served Yale with distinction and commitment for decades. As a former member of the Yale Corporation, the University's governing board, he served for 12 years, including service as senior fellow for six years.  He sustains vital humanities and cross-disciplinary activities on campus through the Franke Lecture Series at the Whitney Humanities Center, and has for the past four years served as the co-chair on a University faculty committee initiated by President Levin to study the creation of a center to bring together the studies of the sciences and the humanities. These efforts culminated in the creation of the Franke Initiative for the Sciences and the Humanities this year. He has also established the Richard J. Franke Fellowship by funding over 400 doctoral students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences over the past quarter of a century. In the 1990s, he established a challenge grant to upgrade the book stack tower of Sterling Memorial Library, and funded the renovation of the Periodical Room.

Ellen Gibson McGinnis has shown exceptional devotion to Yale, serving in many volunteer leadership roles. She is a founding member and current chair of YaleWomen, the new organization for women alums. She was a member of the AYA Board of Governors from 2001 until 2012, serving as chair from 2008 to 2010. She advanced the AYA’s strategic plan to develop new programs that inspired alumni who had never connected with Yale after graduation to engage with each other, their communities, and the University, and deepened the engagement of alumni who were already connected. Under her leadership, the AYA Board expanded committee membership to non-board members, enabling a broader scope of programs and effectiveness of alumni volunteer efforts. She has served as a member of the University Council, an agent of the Alumni Fund, an officer of two regional Yale Clubs, and as treasurer of her class. She is currently a Council member of Women’s Health Research at Yale.

Robert E. Steele is a true and devoted citizen of Yale University, holding graduate degrees in public health and psychology. He established the Creed/Patton/Steele scholarship as well as a second scholarship in public health and an internship at the Yale Art Gallery. While president of the School of Public Health Alumni, he established and met a goal of 100% giving by the alumni executive committee as well as leading the alumni to consistently meet their giving goals. He has served on the AYA Board of Governors and currently is in his second term on the Yale Art Gallery board and, his first term with the Yale Alumni Annual Fund board. He and his wife Jean have an extensive collection of art on paper by African-American artists and have made gifts from it to the Yale Art Gallery and lent art twice to the Divinity School. His daughter Elisabeth is a graduate of Yale Law School and delegate-at-large at AYA.

Nancy Stratford has been a consummate volunteer and alumni leader forYale over the years. Her volunteer efforts have led her to become a member of the Board of Governors of AYA. She is a founding member and current vice chair of YaleWomen, the new organization for women alumnae of Yale, and a member of her Class Council. Her commitment to her class and to Yale has been extraordinary. She has served as an ex-officio member of the University Council, on the Reunion Committee of her 30th reunion, and was actively involved in planning her 35th reunion this year. As chair of the Alumni Fund and a member of the Yale Tomorrow Campaign Committee, she spent immeasurable hours raising funds for Yale. She organizes monthly class lunches at the Yale Club in New York and annual mini-reunion dinners in the fall in New York. She continues as chair of agents for her class and as an ex officio-board member of the Yale Alumni Fund. 

David F. Swensen has dedicated his professional efforts and extraordinary skills to serving Yale as chief investment officer. His legendary success in that role not only built the financial foundation for the greatness of Yale today but also secures the future of Yale as one of the world’s leading universities. In addition to managing Yale’s endowment, he teaches economics in Yale College and at the Yale School of Management, serves on the President’s Economic Recover Advisory Board, as a fellow of Berkeley College, and as an incorporator of the Elizabethan Club. Swensen is a trustee of TIAA and the Brookings Institution.  In 2008 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He has advised the University of Cambridge, the Carnegie Corporation, the Carnegie Institution, Hopkins School, the New York Stock Exchange, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the States of Connecticut and Massachusetts.