Skip to main content

Alumnus David Duffield to be honored by Engineering

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock

David Duffield

A conversation with engineer, businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist David A. Duffield ’62, MBA ’64, and presentation of the inaugural Cornell Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award to him, will be held Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 4 p.m. in 101 Phillips Hall Auditorium. The event is open to the Cornell community on a space-limited basis.

President Martha E. Pollack will introduce the event, and Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, will serve as moderator.

Duffield, in a conversation led by Collins, will speak about his experience at Cornell and as founder of six companies, including two highly successful business software companies, PeopleSoft and Workday. He will also talk about the importance of establishing a strong corporate culture and share his thoughts on how students and alumni can distinguish themselves in today’s competitive tech industry.

The Cornell Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award has been created as the college’s highest alumni honor, intended to recognize individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and vision – pushing traditional boundaries, transforming the world, and bringing pride and distinction to the college.

Duffield is one of Cornell Engineering’s most successful and influential alumni. He is a visionary in the business management and higher education software industries, and has built companies that are icons in the tech industry. He is also a prominent global philanthropist, family man and deeply devoted Cornellian.

At Cornell, Duffield serves as a presidential councillor and is a foremost benefactor. His support enabled the construction of Duffield Hall, a critical facility for the college and university as a whole. Duffield Hall houses some of the world’s most sophisticated research and teaching facilities for nanoscale science and engineering, and supports photonic, microelectromechanical and biotechnology research, as well as advanced materials processing.

Duffield also funded the Workday Atrium in Gates Hall and Workday Labs in Phillips, Rhodes and Sage halls.

Duffield founded PeopleSoft in 1987, which grew into a public global enterprise software company before being acquired in 2005. That same year, he co-founded Workday, another public global enterprise software company developed on cloud technologies.

Among other honors, he was named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year in 1996. Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, founded Maddie’s Fund, which supports companion animal welfare and promotes no-kill animal shelters across the country, including the SPCA of Tompkins County.