Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

The Cornell Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award proudly recognizes an alumnus/ae whose extraordinary leadership and vision have broken the rules to push traditional boundaries and transform the world, and whose professional accomplishments brings pride and distinction to the College.

We awarded our first ever Distinguished Alumni Award this year to...


David DuffieldDave Duffield holds two Cornell degrees – Engineering Class of 1962, with a major in electrical engineering, and Johnson Graduate School of Management Class of 1964.

He is a visionary engineer, serial entrepreneur, and extraordinary philanthropist.

In 1987, Dave founded PeopleSoft, an enterprise software company that became a world leader in the higher education, manufacturing, finance, and human resource industries. When PeopleSoft was acquired in 2005, he co-founded yet another global software company, Workday, which provides cloud-based human resource, financial, student, and analytics applications to the world’s largest companies, educational institutions, and government organizations. As chairman of Workday’s board, Dave continues to embody and promote the company’s core values:  a strong commitment to employees, customer service, innovation, integrity, and fun.

Dave’s other business software companies include Integral Systems, Business Software Corporation, Information Associates, and his newest startup, Ridgeline.

Beyond his impact on industry, Dave, together with his wife Cheryl, is committed to improving lives and livelihoods through philanthropy. To honor his parents, Dave funded and named Cornell Engineering’s iconic nanoscale science and engineering building, Duffield Hall. The Duffields are also ardent advocates and supporters of animal welfare through their foundation, Maddie’s Fund, which is devoted to revolutionizing the status and well-being of companion animals.

More information on the Award process