From left, Marjolein van der Meulen, director of the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering; Cornell President Martha E. Pollack; Anne Meinig Smalling ’87; Nancy Schlegel Meinig ’62; Ellen Walsh; and Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, at the 2022 Cornell Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony.

Meinig family earns Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award

The Meinig family, which President Martha E. Pollack described as “one of Cornell’s most engaged, successful and generous multigenerational families,” was honored May 27 with the 2022 Cornell Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award during a ceremony in Duffield Hall.

Three of the four generations of Meinigs who have attended Cornell thus far were on hand to accept the award, which recognizes engineering alumni whose leadership and vision have transformed the world and brought distinction to the College of Engineering and Cornell.

Pollack said the Meinigs stand out “as a family that, for generations, has played an outsized role in shaping the world-class university we know today.”

Carl Meinig ’31 was the first member of the family to attend Cornell, arriving in 1927, and was joined by his young brother, Hans, two years later. After receiving his bachelor of arts degree, Carl Meinig earned a professional degree in electrical engineering, forming a lasting connection between the Meinigs and Cornell Engineering.

Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, credited Carl Meinig with being an “unwavering supporter of Cornell” and passing that trait on to subsequent generations. “Family lore is that Carl said he would be happy to pay for his son’s college tuition anywhere, as long as it was at Cornell,” he said.

From left: Sally (Meinig) Snipes, Jafer Snipes, Nancy Schlegel Meinig ’62, Jaxon Snipes ’22, Anne Meinig Smalling ’87, Tina Meinig, Brianna Krupunich and Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering.


Peter Meinig ’61 chose to attend his father’s alma mater, a decision that proved to be transformative for both his family and the institution. At Cornell, he met his wife, Nancy Schlegel Meinig ’62. Over the course of more than five decades together, they built what Archer described as “a rich history of partnership and impact … characterized by service and dedication, and of selfless giving back and doing good.”

A successful entrepreneur and businessman, Peter Meinig joined the Cornell University Board of Trustees and served two terms as its chairman before he died in 2017. Meinig was active on various committees and initiatives across the university, including as a supporter of the winning bid to build the Cornell Tech campus and as a special adviser for Cornell Engineering’s strategic priorities.

The Meinigs have endowed several university positions and programs, including the Meinig Family Professor of Engineering, Nancy Schlegel Meinig Professor of Maternal and Child Nutrition, Meinig Family Investigatorships in the Life Sciences, Carl H. Meinig ’31 Head Coach of Women’s Tennis, and Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars, as well as the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, which coincided with the launch of an undergraduate major in biomedical engineering in 2015. The gift was made along with the couple’s daughters, Anne Meinig Smalling ’87; Kathryn Meinig Geib, MBA ’93; Sally Meinig Snipes; and their families.

Marjolein van der Meulen, the James M. and Marsha McCormick Director of Biomedical Engineering, credited the Meinigs’ support for the school’s growth. Peter Meinig always remained heavily involved as an adviser and mentor, she said.

“The Meinig family has enabled us to develop a top-tier biomedical engineering program, including the ability to grow our excellent faculty, to develop educational programs and to graduate biomedical engineers, all with the goal of improving human health,” said van der Meulen, who added that that school’s ability to attract women engineering students – over 70% of biomedical engineering undergraduates are female – has contributed to the college’s ability to achieve and maintain gender parity in its undergraduate population.

Nancy Meinig attended the award ceremony with several of her family members, including her daughters Sally Snipes and Anne Smalling.

Anne Smalling serves as a Cornell trustee and a co-chair of both the universitywide and the engineering ‘To Do the Greatest Good’ campaign committees. She accepted the award on behalf of the entire family, including those who were not in attendance.

“We’re grateful for the recognition and united in our love of Cornell,” she said. “No doubt about it, my grandfather and my father are looking down at us right now with pride and joy.”

Members of the Meinig family attending the award ceremony were preparing to celebrate Commencement weekend, as Jaxon Snipes ’22, Carl Meinig’s great-grandson, was ready to march through Schoellkopf Field the following day as a newly-minted graduate of Cornell.

Syl Kacapyr is associate director of marketing and communications for the College of Engineering.

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Becka Bowyer