Five Alumni to Receive Wilbur Lucius Cross Medals

Five distinguished alumni of Yale University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will be honored at Commencement with Wilbur Lucius Cross Medals for outstanding achievement in their professional lives. These awards, the highest honors issued by the Graduate School Alumni Association, will be bestowed during the Graduate School Commencement ceremonies, held today at noon at Woolsey Hall, following University Commencement on the Old Campus.

The medals are named in memory of Wilbur Lucius Cross, who served as dean of the Graduate School 1916-1930, and as governor of Connecticut 1931-1939.

The recipients will be Helen Murphy Tepperman, George A. Lindbeck, Peter Demetz, David M. Lee and Thomas Appelquist.

Helen Murphy Tepperman, 1942 Ph.D., Physiological Chemistry

Distinguished endocrinologist, outstanding teacher and mentor of young scientists, revered administrator, ground breaker for women aspiring to careers in the medical sciences, during your 40 year career of teaching, research and service to your university, you were a prolific scholar and author. In collaboration with your husband, Jay Tepperman, you studied adaptive enzyme patterns in cells challenged by drastically altered hormonal and dietary environments, elucidating some of the abnormalities in two of the most common diseases in industrialized societies: obesity and diabetes. With your husband, you co-authored the 5th edition of his internationally renowned textbook, “Metabolic and Endocrine Physiology.” After graduating summa cum laude from Mount Holyoke College in 1938 and completing a Ph.D. degree at Yale four years later, you spent your professional career in the Department of Pharmacology at the State University of New York in Syracuse. A teacher with clarity, grace, good humor and judgment, you were more than a mentor: you were the quintessential inspiration, succeeding as few women had in the male-dominated sciences. You served with distinction on Study Sections of the National Institutes of Health, as Chair of the Section on Medicine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as an editor of Endocrinology, as an Association of Yale Alumni delegate, and in important University administrative positions. In recognition of your achievements, the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse and Mt. Holyoke College awarded you an honorary D.Sc. degree.

For major contributions in the field of endocrinology, for inspiring and training generations of students and teachers, for service to your University, the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association is proud to award you its highest honor, the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal.

George A. Lindbeck, 1946 B.D., 1955 Ph.D. Religious Studies

Distinguished theologian, promoter of ecumenical understanding, exemplary teacher of generations of Yale students, your multi-faceted achievements in the academy and the church are outstanding. You articulated a highly innovative paradigm for understanding and interrelating religion, the doctrines of religious communities and Christian theology. Your publications have shaped the agenda of an entire generation of scholars of religion and contributed indispensably to what is widely known as “the new Yale theology.” You have been more influential than most theologians of our time in the mission to overcome the historical doctrinal differences among the Christian churches. Your ecumenical career began with your service as a delegated Protestant observer to the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, and focused in particular, over a period of 25 years, on the national and international Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues. Honorary degrees conferred by Notre Dame University and Gustavus Adolphus College and the Joseph Sittler Prize for Theology and Ecumenism are among the many awards you earned for service to both humanity and the church. You played a critical role in establishing a Judaic Studies program at Yale and in transforming the department of religious studies from primarily Christian studies to include Judaism and other religions. You have profoundly influenced students at Yale, in the Graduate School, Divinity School and the College. Doctoral students whose work you supervised now occupy leading positions in academic institutions both here and abroad.

With great pride in your achievements, the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association confers on you its highest honor, the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal.

Peter Demetz, 1956 Ph.D. Comparative Literature

Distinguished literary scholar and critic, exemplary writer of lucid prose in several languages, luminous teacher, eloquent spokesman for the culture of Central Europe, you came to the United States as a political refugee in 1947 with a Ph.D. degree from Prague’s Charles University, and received a second doctorate at Yale in 1956. Together with Rene Wellek, you established a new discipline, Comparative Literature, and taught from 1953 to 1990 in the departments of Comparative Literature and German at Yale. Author of nine books and editor of 16 others, you introduced generations of American scholars to the critical study of Marxist and literary theory, creating at Yale the undergraduate theory course which would prove the model for others across the country. Your inspiring classroom presence, formidable learning, intellectual open-mindedness, and collegial grace helped to create a golden age of the Humanities at Yale. Combining scholarship with service, you were chair of the German department and of the Division of Humanities, and you also served as president of the Modern Language Association. Among the honors your accomplishments have brought you internationally are Germany’s Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit and the Golden Goethe Medal, Germany’s two highest awards for cultural achievement.

Since retiring from the Sterling Professorship of German, you have continued to teach and to write with undiminished energy. Your most recent book, “Prague in Black and Gold,” dramatizes the crucial role of that great city in European culture, a tradition of elegance and cosmopolitan graciousness manifest in you, her son, whom Yale had the good fortune to welcome years ago, and to whom the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association is pleased to award its highest honor, the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal.

David M. Lee, 1959 Ph.D. Physics

Outstanding experimentalist and educator, you have brought great honor to Yale and helped to secure its leadership in, and commitment to, the physical sciences. After your doctoral work at Yale, in which you first encountered the Helium-3 atoms that were to bring you international acclaim, you moved to Cornell to study their behavior at extremely low temperatures. You then succeeded, along with your colleague Robert Richardson and student Doug Osheroff, in cooling them to within an incredible few thousandths of a degree of absolute zero, and discovered their superfluid phase. These experiments at very low temperature required enormous attention to detail, extremely hard work and long-term team work under outstanding leadership. Your discovery has opened up a vast area of theoretical and experimental investigation.

We at Yale admire your visionary choice of research area and take great pride in the numerous honors and awards you have garnered by exploring it so successfully: the Sir Francis Simon Memorial Prize of the British Institute of Physics, the Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society, election to the National Academy of Sciences and finally the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics. Your role as mentor is self-evident from the fact your graduate student Osheroff and your junior colleague Richardson, shared the Nobel Prize with you.

The Wilbur Cross Medal is reserved for truly distinguished graduates. You, in accepting it, have added to its distinction. For your outstanding career and the inspiration it provides to present students, the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association is proud to award you its highest honor, the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal.

Thomas Appelquist, Honoris Causa,

Ph.D., 1968, Physics, Cornell University

Innovative theoretical physicist, distinguished leader in both academia and science, inspiring teacher, you have made significant contributions to both the intellectual life and the wise administration of Yale University. After receiving your doctorate from Cornell, you became a leader in the theoretical understanding of elementary particles, the fundamental building blocks of nature. Your early work on elucidating the structure of charmonium was of pioneering importance. You were among the leaders worldwide in the study of the origins of electroweak symmetry breaking, which is at the intellectual center of the understanding of the interactions of the basic constituents of matter. These achievements were recognized by the American Physical Society, which awarded you the J.J. Sakurai Prize for theoretical physics. Your wise counsel has been sought on numerous national and international committees and panels. You have further distinguished yourself as an academic leader as chair of the physics department and as divisional director. During your five-year term as dean of the Graduate School, you have introduced great improvements in graduate education at Yale, including enhanced quality of student life, improved career guidance and other services, and you supervised the creation of the McDougal Center with facilities and activities for intramural, national and international exchanges among students and scholars from all disciplines.

In recognition of your intellectual achievements and your distinguished leadership as scientist and administrator, the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association bids you an affectionate farewell as your term as dean ends, and proudly awards you its highest honor, the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, honoris causa.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325