The Helen Bull Vandervort Alumni Achievement Award, established in 1983, is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni of the College of Human Ecology by the Alumni Association (HEAA). The award is presented to those alumni who have demonstrated those qualities exemplified by the late Helen Bull Vandervort '26 and who have attained outstanding success and distinction in their chosen profession or life's work, and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on, or bring honor to, the College.

One recipient is selected annually. This award may be bestowed at the discretion of the HEAA Awards Committee.

Description and Eligibility

The Helen Bull Vandervort Alumni Achievement Award is presented to one who has made significant achievements and contributions to their profession and community and is recognized for leadership, innovation, and how their life-work represents the mission and values of the College. The award recipient contributions should demonstrate important creative effort or accomplishment with societal or educational value and has made a lasting impact though outstanding voluntary and philanthropic accomplishments.

  1. Nominee must have attained notable degree of prominence through professional endeavor, research, volunteerism, and involvement within the local or global community or the College.
  2. Special consideration will be given for those who demonstrate significant initiative by starting innovative service projects, research, businesses or other original enterprises.
  3. Received recognition by professional organizations for significant professional contributions, discoveries, or creative work through honors, awards, and/or media attention.
  4. Serves as an outstanding role model for alumni, current and future Human Ecology College students.
  5. The award recipient shall be expected to advance and support the mission of the College of Human Ecology by engaging with students, faculty or the College during the following year after receipt of the Alumni Achievement Award. The Alumni Affairs and Development office will work with award winners to identify and tailor specific engagement opportunities.
  1. The nomination cycle for the Helen Bull Vandervort Alumni Achievement Award is January  - February of every year.
  2. Nominations must be submitted by 5 pm on February 10 to be considered for the award cycle that year.
  3. All nominations must be submitted using the official nomination form. Completed nomination forms with the required documentation support may be submitted online. Paper versions of the form can be obtained by contacting Human Ecology Alumni Affairs & Development 607-255-7802 or
  4. Each nomination may also include the nominee's resume or curriculum vitae and not more than two letters of support from the nominee's constituencies (alumni, faculty, administration, staff or friends of the University) stating the specific reasons for the nomination.
  5. Incomplete nominations will not be considered by the Awards Committee.
  6. Self-nominations are not recommended.

Presentation will be made at the Human Ecology Alumni Association Annual Meeting held at the Alumni Breakfast which takes place during Cornell's Alumni Reunion Weekend in June. It is preferred that the recipient attend this ceremony in person to receive this award. If there are financial issues which would make it difficult for the individual to attend in person, the Awards Committee will refer to the following travel considerations.

The Human Ecology Alumni Association will pay for the award recipient's travel to campus pending available funds. The alumni association will not pay travel expenses for any guests of the award recipient. Fund availability will be made at the discretion of the Human Ecology Alumni Association Board Executive Committee in collaboration with the Awards Committee.

Helen Bull Vandervort: From Dairy Farm to Civic Leadership

Helen Bull Vandervort was born on a dairy farm near Middletown, N.Y. After graduating from the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, she served as Home Demonstration Agent in Lewis and Sullivan Counties. She was married to John Vandervort, a 1923 graduate of Cornell's Veterinary School.

While raising her two children, she began her volunteer involvement in the local Parent Teacher Association, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Youth Activities. From there her interests grew and expanded to other local organizations and then beyond her local community to county and state-wide service.

With her strong desire to be of service, Vandervort’s volunteer and leadership commitment to civic, cultural and business organizations led her to lifelong achievements and recognition by the communities and groups she supported. She received many honors for her dedication to public service, business initiatives and community involvement.

In 1962 she was named "Woman of the Year" by the Business and Professional Women's Club of Ithaca, N.Y., and in 1966 was named "Woman of Achievement" in the career category by the Syracuse Post Standard. A wing of the Harriet May Mills Building at the New York State Exposition was named in her honor.

Past Recipients of the Helen Bull Vandervort Alumni Achievement Award:

2022 - Dorothy Schefer Faux '69 2001 — Margaret Bailey Redmond '52
2020 — Dr. Paul M. Sethi '93 2000 — Francille M. Firebaugh PhD '62
2019 — Cynthia B. Green '79 1999 — Martha Rausch Ohaus '47
2018 — Nava R. Silton '02 1998 — Grace Richardson MS '62
2017 — Neysa Etienne '94 1997 — Carmen Luz de Ramos MS '63
2016 — Rosanna Frank '61 1996 — Bernice M. Hopkins '32
2015 — Joan Klein Jacobs '54 1995 — Judith Kellner Rushmore '65
2014 — Lauri Miller Brotman '86 1994 — Patricia Gunderson Stocker '53
2013 — Margo G. Wootan '86 1993 — Joan Hartford Ferreira '51
2012 — Eleanor Dillon Petigrow '87 1992 — Robert D. Schultz '77, MBA '78
2011 — Rebecca Q. Morgan '60 1991 — Charlotte Williams Conable '51
2010 — Arden S. Handler '76 1990 — Jane Stevens Gore MS '68, PhD '77
2009 — Lynn Edelstein Heymont '73 1989 — Ruby Douglas Walters '72, MS '74
2008 — Carol B. Aslanian '63 1988 — Leah Bissonette Bell ’73
2007 — Lucy H. Jarvis '38 1987 — Carol Sue Epstein Hai '60
2006 — Ronni Chernoff '67 1986 — Alice Sanderson Rivoire '41, MS '48
2005 — Deborah Gerard Adelman '71, MS '74 1985 — Lucinda A. Noble '54
2004 — Lea Paxton Nixon '53 1984 — Ruth Deacon MS '48, PhD '54
2003 — Carol Winter Mund '52 1983 — Barbara Hai Freed '51
2002 — Nancy Schlegel Meinig '62