Four Grad School alumni honored

Four alumni of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences received Wilbur Lucius Cross Medals last month for outstanding post-Yale achievements.

The Graduate School’s highest honor was awarded to Smith College president Carol T. Christ GRD ’70; Paul Friedrich GRD ’57, University of Chicago professor emeritus of anthropology, linguistics, and Slavic languages and literatures; Anne Walters Robertson GRD ’84, professor of music at the University of Chicago; and Princeton University geology professor John Suppe GRD ’69, who recently transferred to the National Taiwan University.

Graduate School alumni were honored with awards for “outstanding post-Yale achievements” last month
Graduate School alumni were honored with awards for “outstanding post-Yale achievements” last month

Graduate School Dean Jon Butler said this year’s group of Medal recipients is as distinguished as any group that has been honored with the award.

“This year’s honorees represent the breadth of achievement that typifies the research and scholarship accomplished by Graduate School alumni,” he said.

Suppe said he is proud to be included among the other eminent alumni recipients of the award.

“It was wonderful to be back in New Haven and a great honor,” he said in an e-mail. “I knew of the Cross Medal from watching George Gaylord Simpson, the great paleontologist, receive it when I was a student. Recently I looked over the list of recipients and found the names of many people in many fields who I know by reputation or personally.”

Each year, the alumni association of the Graduate School presents the medal to a small number of Yale graduates who share Wilbur Lucius Cross’ 1885 GRD 1889 passion for scholarship, teaching, academic administration and public service, according to the Office of Public Affairs.

Christ, who has served as president of Smith since 2002, has authored two books on Victorian poetry and edited the “Norton Anthology of English Literature.”

Friedrich is renowned for his work in ethno-politics and is the author of 11 books, including “Music in Russian Poetry” and “The Language of Parallax: Linguistic Relativism and Poetic Indeterminacy.”

Robertson, a specialist in medieval and Renaissance music, is also a classical pianist. Her books — “The Service Books of the Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis: Images of Ritual and Music in the Middle Ages” and “Guillaume de Machaut and Reims: Context and Meaning in his Musical Works” — have won public acclaim.

Robertson said she agrees with the University that the Wilbur Cross Medal celebrates important achievements.

“It takes a university of the caliber of Yale to recognize the collective value of the pursuits honored in the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal — scholarship, teaching, academic administration and public service — and I was deeply honored to be chosen as a recipient,” she said in an e-mail.

Suppe studies plate tectonics and structural geology. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and worked as a guest investigator for the NASA Magellan Mission to Venus.

Suppe identified his Yale education as a significant force in shaping his professional life.

“Years [after graduating from Yale,] when I was chair of the Geosciences Department at Princeton, I had a much broader vision for the intellectual opportunities for the earth sciences than I would have had I not been at Yale in the late 1960s,” he said in an e-mail. “As a result, I was able to help move Princeton to take on the challenging opportunities of applying the tools of molecular biology and genetics to the Earth, which is currently a very exciting area of discovery.”

Cross served as dean of the Graduate School from 1916 to 1930 and as governor of Connecticut following his retirement from Yale, according to the Association of Yale Alumni Web site.

Cross is widely considered a distinguished English scholar and an influential literary critic and author.

The Graduate School awarded the first Wilbur Cross Medal in 1966.

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