Daniel Sisler, Ph.D. '62, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, a Cornell trustee emeritus and the retiring chair of the Helen Keller International (HKI) Board of Trustees, has been named the 2007 recipient of the prestigious Spirit of Helen Keller Award for "outstanding contributions to the alleviation of blindness on a worldwide scale" as well as for his "leadership qualities and his understanding of the burden of blindness in under-resourced countries and communities served by HKI."
Sisler will receive the award June 4 at HKI's Gala at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Recent past recipients of the award include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Mohammed VI, King of Morocco.
Blinded at age 25 while serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, Sisler has served as a member of HKI's Board of Trustees since 1979, as its chairman from 1994 to 2006, and as a member of its executive committee since 1987. HKI works with programs and research in the areas of eye health and nutrition.
Sisler is a recognized authority in determining the cost effectiveness of programs during planning and implementation. He brought this expertise to his work with HKI, traveling extensively to impoverished communities in the United States and throughout the developing world. He also has consulted extensively on matters relating to blindness and world hunger, serving as president of Educate the Children; as adviser for the U.S. Veterans Association; and as a consultant for the blind rehabilitation program at Hines Veterans' Administration Hospital and to both the Cornell and Indonesian Nutritional Surveillance Programs.
After receiving his B.S. at Purdue University in 1956 and his Ph.D. at Cornell in 1962, Sisler taught the economics of agricultural geography, global economics and research methods to more than 12,000 students during his tenure in Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) from 1961 until his retirement in 1995. Much of his teaching was devoted to preparing students to tackle the most difficult issues surrounding world hunger and nutrition in developing nations.
"Dan Sisler is one of those unique individuals who has the ability to interact effectively with any audience; students in the classroom, graduate students in a one-on-one session or alumni and professional groups in a lecture setting. He is an extraordinary teacher regardless of the setting," said David Call, dean emeritus of CALS.
HKI, with programs in 26 countries around the world, is an international nonprofit organization devoted to fighting and treating preventable blindness and malnutrition.