October 27, 2003

Service Honors Ackley '61

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Alumni, colleagues and students gathered Saturday morning in the A.D. White House in memory of Prof. Kenneth E. Ackley ’61, chemical engineering. Cancer took Ackley’s life on Oct. 7 at his home in Pittsford, N.Y. He was 65.

“I started to write that it won’t be easy to replace you, but in fact your family, friends and colleagues know that you are irreplaceable,” eulogized Roger West ’60.

Paulette Clancy, director of the school of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and others shared commemorating remarks during the ceremony.

Ackley had worked for the last eight years at Cornell, lending his engineering experience and expertise to students and the University. He graduated from Cornell with a B.A. of chemical engineering in 1961 and received an M.A. of engineering in 1966. He returned to his alma mater as a visiting lecturer for chemical process design in 1995 and became a senior lecturer in chemical engineering in 1996.

Ackley lightened his challenging course work with personal stories, a cheerful smile and humorous remarks, according to those who knew him. He developed and taught Chemical Engineering Units and Equipment, Managing Chemical Processing Design and Finance for Engineers. He was also a frequent speaker at the Manufacturing Seminar course. In 1998, he presented the fourth Raymond G. Thorpe Lecture in Chemical Engineering.

“There is a lot that comes to mind. He taught us what it was to love Cornell — all by example. He related everything to the real world and cut through theory. We miss him,” said Steve Harasim ’03.

From 1974 to 1996, Ackley, a registered engineer in New York, founded Innovation Packaging Incorporated, a company that specialized in developing and manufacturing flexible packing products. His practical experience encouraged the creation and development of the Industrial Practitioner Program in the School of Chemical Engineering. This program invites Cornell alumni to instruct students in the individual’s area of expertise.

In 1999, Ackley was a recipient of the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, which recognizes outstanding long-term service to Cornell volunteer activities. He co-chaired the fundraising efforts toward establishing the Class of ’60 Computer Laboratory in the School of Chemical Engineering. Ackley continued the Cornell tradition as a member of his class council and as reunion chair.

The Unit Operations Laboratory in Olin Hall will be named in his honor. He is survived by his wife Miriam, son David and daughter Jennifer Bobalik.

Archived article by Anne Ceccarini