By Krisy Gashler
periodiCALS, Vol. 6, Issue 2, 2016
Mary Maxon Grainger ’79, MPS ’87, and Bradley Grainger ’79 started serving Cornell as undergraduates, and they have never stopped. The CALS grads and longtime Ithacans are two of the six 2016 recipients of the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, the university’s highest award for service.
The future couple’s service as students included Alpha Zeta, Sigma Delta Tau, Ag Day, University Senate, college ambassadors, alumni boards, and Agriculture Positive Action Council (AgPAC), where they participated in meetings where the now-famous “We Grow the Ivy” slogan was first developed.
After graduation, Brad pursued a career in commercial mortgage banking while Mary worked in CALS Admissions, then became a full-time parent and full-time volunteer. As alumni, their commitment to Cornell has only grown, including service on the University Council, CALS Charitable Trust Board, and Class of 1979 Reunion committees, among many, many others. At the moment, Brad serves on the College Advisory Council, and Mary is on the CALS Alumni Association Board.
“We were college ambassadors, and when I had the chance to be vice chair of the University Council in charge of the ambassador program, that was full circle,” Mary said. “To be able to help empower some of Cornell’s most loyal alumni to feel like they can be ambassadors in their communities was inspiring.”
The Graingers’ service to Cornell stems from gratitude for their world-class educations.
“I was on financial aid; I couldn’t have afforded to come,” Brad said. “But between state and federal aid, work study jobs, and college and university scholarships, Cornell gave me an education.”
Jeff Weiss is the Class of ’79 president and has worked closely with the Graingers for decades.
“Mary and Brad exemplify the very best of friendship and civic responsibility. They give of themselves without hesitation,” Weiss said. “Cornell is a better place due to the Graingers. Their multiple volunteer roles in support of Cornell bring together many people, resources and talents. Any one of these would be admirable. The combination is awesome.”