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OADI Honors Awards

Ryokichi Yatabe Award

Outstanding OADI Alumna/Alumnus Partner

Earning his Bachelor’s degree in 1876, Ryokichi Yatabe was Cornell’s first Japanese graduate. Dr. Yatabe went on to become the first professor of Botany and Curator of Botanic Gardens at the University of Tokyo.


Estevan Fuertes Award

Outstanding OADI Faculty Partner

Dr. Estevan Fuertes was Cornell’s first professor of color. Originally from Puerto Rico, Dr. Fuertes became Cornell’s first dean and professor of civil engineering in 1873. He led the construction of Cornell’s first observatory (located on the Arts Quad) and is the namesake of the current (and fourth) Fuertes Observatory built in 1917 on North Campus. Using astronomical observations, Fuertes monitored the accuracy of the McGraw Tower’s clock in its early years. 


Tomás Bautista Mapúa Award 

Outstanding OADI Staff Partner

After earning his Bachelor of Architecture degree at Cornell in 1911, Tomás Bautista Mapúa became the first Filipino to earn a degree in Architecture in the United States and the first registered architect in the Philippines. Mr. Mapúa went on to found the Mapúa Institute of Technology in Manila.


Toni Morrison Award

Graduate Mentorship

Toni Morrison earned her Master of Arts degree in English at Cornell in 1955. She has held lectureships and academic chairs at universities across the U.S. (including Cornell University) and in Europe, and she also served as senior editor at Random House for 20 years. Her numerous honors include the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature; the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for "Beloved" and the National Book Critics Award in 1978 for "Song of Solomon." In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. 


Club Brasileiro Award

Outstanding Organization

Established in 1873, Club Brasileiro is Cornell’s earliest known student cultural organization. Founded by Brazilian students with over 20 members, the organization published a monthly newsletter in their native Portuguese language. 


Lt. Caroline Sanford Finley Award 

Outstanding Undergraduate Student Veteran

The New York-born Finley graduated from Cornell Medical School in 1901. She was on staff at the Elizabeth Blackwell-founded New York Infirmary for Women and Children. From November 1917 to June 1919, she headed an all-female U.S. hospital unit in France under the auspices of the Women’s Oversea Hospitals (supported by the National American Woman Suffrage Association) and held the rank of lieutenant in the Medical Corps of the French army.

At Chateau d’Ognon in summer 1918, German planes bombed her hospital. For her service, she received the Croix de Guerre from the French government, and on November 22, 1919, the Prince of Wales awarded her an MBE on the HMS Renown in recognition of her care in Metz of former British POWs suffering from influenza.


Solomon Cook Award 

Engaged Research and Scholarship

After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cornell in 1938 and 1942 respectively, Solomon Cook (Akwesasne) became the university’s first Native American student to earn a Ph.D in 1950. Dr. Cook also served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and was elected chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council. 


George Washington Fields Award

Professional Development

George Washington Fields was born into slavery and later escaped with his mother and siblings during the Civil War. Believed to be Cornell’s only former slave graduate, he was part of the inaugural law school class at Cornell. When he earned his degree in 1890, George Washington Fields became not only the first African American graduate of Cornell Law School, but he was also joined by two undergraduates that same year who become the very first African Americans to graduate with bachelor’s degrees from Cornell.  


Gloria Joseph Award 

Opportunity Programs

Gloria Joseph graduated from Cornell with a PhD in Educational Psychology and became the first Administrative Director for the university’s Council on Special Education Projects (COSEP), which was Cornell’s first institutionalized diversity initiative that evolved into OMEA and then OADI and 626. After also serving as an Assistant Dean of Students at Cornell, Dr. Joseph later became a professor with the Africana Center. Many students, staff and faculty considered Dr. Joseph instrumental to their success at Cornell.  


Marvin Jack Award

OADI Emerging Scholar-Leader

In 1909, Marvin Jack (Tuscarora) became Cornell’s first Native American student to earn a bachelor’s degree, Mr. Jack later became a horticulturist and advocate for Native Americans’ education and success in agriculture.


Jerome Holland Award 

OADI Outstanding Scholar-Leader

Jerome “Brud” Holland was Cornell’s first African American football player. After working his way through Cornell by shoveling coal into a fraternity’s furnace, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cornell in 1939 and 1941, respectively. He later became the first Black member of the New York Stock Exchange and U.S. ambassador to Sweden. Dr. Holland also served as President of Delaware State University and Hampton University, and as chairman of the American Red Cross. 

Black & white photo of Jerome Holland