Dec. 1, 2010

Arts and Sciences to recruit faculty for three new endowed humanities professorships

Cornell donors' gifts will establish three new endowed professorships in the humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The senior professorships -- the L. Sanford and Jo Mills Reis Professorship, the Susan and Barton Winokur Professorship, and the David and Kathleen Ryan Professorship -- will be endowed for a total of $12 million. The Mellon Foundation pledged a $2.4 million challenge grant toward the endowment goal to Cornell in 2007. The grant required the university to raise $9.6 million within five years to endow the positions.

About 40 percent of the 500 current Arts and Sciences faculty are humanists. To fill these professorships, the college will recruit established or rising stars whose scholarship and teaching encompass more than one or several humanistic disciplines.

"Faculty renewal is Cornell's critical challenge," said G. Peter Lepage, the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "These gifts are extremely valuable and strategic because they ensure that influential midcareer and senior humanists will be among the first of many fine scholars to join our humanities faculty."

Lepage announced the Reis gift, from retired banking executives Curtis '56 and Pamela Reis and the Reis Foundation, in October at a celebration honoring Curtis' parents, the late L. Sanford '29 and Jo Mills Reis '29, who were Foremost Benefactors of Cornell. The Reis family legacy includes the Reis Tennis Center, the Reis Family Lectureships to strengthen Arabic studies, the Jo Mills and L. Sanford Reis Scholarship Fund (which assists six undergraduate students annually), the stage in the Schwartz Center's Kiplinger Theatre and the Fall Creek hydroelectric plant renovation.

Curtis Reis is an emeritus trustee and longtime University Council member. He co-founded Cornell's Adult University and has helped create several alumni initiatives; he received the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award in 2000. He currently serves on the Athletics Advisory Council and the Tower Club National Committee.

Curtis and Pamela Reis both have served on the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Council and are recognized as Foremost Benefactors. Their children and grandchildren include Blythe Reis '80 and Myles Rowland '11.

Barton Winokur '61 is chairman and CEO of Dechert LLP, an international law firm he joined in 1965. A member of the Cornell Board of Trustees and current chair of the Arts and Sciences Advisory Council, he also serves on the Brandeis University board of trustees. Susan Sternblitz Winokur, CALS '61, is the owner of Class Cooking Culinary School and donates all profits from cooking classes to charitable organizations.

The Winokurs established the Winokur Family Scholarship Fund in 1999 through the Scholarship Challenge Campaign. They have two children, Deborah '88 and Derek '91.

Two of David and Kathleen Ryan's children are Cornellians -- Hunter, ILR '07; and David, A&S '08. David Ryan '67 is chairman of the D.L. Ryan Companies Ltd. and of Ryan Partnerships, a marketing services company headquartered in Wilton, Conn., with more than 450 employees. He also is on the governing board of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and has served on the Deerfield Academy board of trustees.

"It was a wonderful challenge from the Mellon Foundation to spur alumni to help the college recruit senior-level faculty to Cornell," said Lindsay Ruth '83, Arts and Sciences associate dean for alumni affairs and development. "The timing has been good. These alumni came through on the heels of a very difficult economic period. As part of the overall faculty renewal initiative, this kind of an investment in the humanities is incredibly important to the college."