Yale News

Recipients of the 2019 Wilbur Lucius Cross Medals for Alumni Achievement gave lectures on their research ranging from anti-cancer immunity to dead shell assemblages on Monday evening before attending a gala dinner.

At the lectures, graduate school alumni exhibited why they had been selected as recipients of the Wilbur Lucius Cross Medals, which is awarded to those who have made outstanding contributions to scholarship, public service, teaching or academic administration. This year’s honorees are economist Urjit Ravindra Patel GRD ’90; geologist Susan M. Kidwell GRD ’82; immunologist Douglas R. Green ’77 GRD ’81; and philosopher Ruth Garrett Millikan GRD ’69.

“The Wilbur Cross awards allow us to celebrate our most distinguished Graduate School alumni, reminding us of Yale’s extraordinary legacy in training generations of academic leadership,” Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler wrote in an email to the News.

The honorees arrived on campus Sunday evening and attended dinners with graduate students in their respective fields. Their Monday schedules were jam-packed with conversations with faculty members and post-doctoral students, lunches and teas. The medalists, some of whom had not returned to campus in several decades, also took a campus tour and visited new buildings like Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin colleges.

Green presented the first lecture of the day at the Anlyan Center. He spoke on his research regarding autophagy proteins and Alzheimer’s disease at St. Jude’s Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Later in the day in the Sterling Memorial Library lecture hall, Millikan, who is a philosophy professor at the University of Connecticut, discussed her work on biosemantics — a term coined by the professor herself. The third lecture took place at Kline Biology Laboratory, where Kidwell, a professor at the University of Chicago, talked about the postmortem fates of skeletal remains.

“It is a pleasure and privilege to be around, and watch out for, people who are finding their vocation,” Kidwell said. “I am deeply grateful to Yale for plucking me out of the South and for giving me a fellowship to be a full-time scholar when many grad programs still expected families to pay the way of women students.”

Patel’s lecture — called “The Cul-De-Sac in Indian Banking: A Dominant Government Sector, Limited Fiscal Space and Independent Regulation (Is There an ‘Impossible Trilemma?’)” — will take place on Wednesday at noon in the Tobin Lounge at 28 Hillhouse Ave.

On Monday evening, the honorees, their families and a host of Yale administrators and department chairs gathered at the Yale Center for British Art for a reception and gala dinner. Both University President Peter Salovey and Yale College Dean Marvin Chun attended.

“I was honored to be seated next to Ruth Garrett Millikan, a legendary figure in American philosophy,” Gendler said in an email to the News. “It was particularly meaningful to me, since my first published article after I received my PhD was a commentary on a piece that Professor Millikan had published in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences.”

Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley delivered opening remarks at the dinner. After Cooley’s speech, Anna Barry GRD ’98, chair of the GSAA, read citations prepared by each of the honorees’ respective department chairs.

Following their citations, President Salovey presented the honorees with their medals, which bore personalized inscriptions on the back. The awardees also received framed copies of their citations and a forthcoming book on the life and work of Wilbur Cross, Graduate School class of 1889, who served as the graduate school’s first dean and went on to become the governor of Connecticut.

“[There seemed to be a] competition between various departments to see who could clap the loudest for their particular winner,” said Tony Smith, who is the chair of the economics department.

Salovey also gave a brief speech to close the evening about the purpose of graduate research and training.

Wilbur Cross III — an author, editor and publisher and the grandson of Wilbur Cross — died in March 2019 at the age of 100.

Olivia Tucker | olivia.tucker@yale.edu

Clarification, Oct. 12: A previous version of this article stated that Wilbur Cross died in 2019 at the age of 100. This was in reference to Wilbur Cross III, Cross’s grandson.

Olivia Tucker covered student policy & affairs as a beat reporter in 2021-22. She previously served as an associate editor of the Yale Daily News Magazine and covered gender equity and diversity. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a senior in Davenport College majoring in English.