Alexander Winchell Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni of the Department in recognition of their contributions to the field of Earth Sciences and their service to the Department.

Don presents Henry with the Winchell Award in 2014

2014   Henry Posamentier
2012   Page Chamberlain
2010   Mike Thonis
2009   Carlos Dengo
1996   Charles E. Bartberger
1980   Patrick A. Domenico
1980   Stewart H. Ross
1980   Richard C. Weart
1979   George H. Norton
1979   Harry J. Klepser
1979   Russell M. Jeffords
1978   Robert F. Black
1978   B. Churchill Loveland
1978   James R. Slater
1977   Samuel S. Goldich
1977   Chauncey D. Holmes
1977   Yngvar W. Isachsen
1976   louis A. Fernansez
1976   Marjorie Hooker
1976 Vincent McKelvey





The history of the Department of Geology (now Earth Sciences) at SU begins with the arrival of Alexander Winchell in January of 1873 as first chancellor and professor of geology, zoology and botany. He was the first to occupy ordained chair 13 (geology, mineralogy and botany) in the new University which had been formed under the sponsorship of the Methodist Church. Winchell actually was the second choice after Rev. Erastus O. Haven (later second chancellor of SU) declined the appointment because of other commitments (Galpin, 1952).
Winchell, born in Duchess County, New York in 1824, had been educated at Wesleyan (graduating in 1847) and had won distinction as professor of geology, zoology and botany at the University of Michigan as well as serving as director of the Michigan Geological Survey. He also had been president of the Masonic University at Selma, Alabama, and attracted considerable attention with his book on "Sketches of Creation". The Board of Trustees and Faculty were impressed with his accomplishments and offered him the position; after consultation with friends and family he accepted. Winchell however soon became disenchanted with being chancellor. It required an inordinate amount of time and there was the constant problem of raising money for the fledling university. So after only two years he resigned as chancellor but remained on the faculty teaching for another five years. A year later he accepted a position at Vanderbilt University until he received a call to return to Michigan.
Winchell was first of all a scientist and a scholar. He published almost 100 papers including nine books. A list he kept of his literary compositions numbered 566 (Winchell, 1892). He was cofounder of the Geological Society of America and of The American Geologist . He has been called the "Father of GSA" and served as its third president in 1891. In February and March 1876 the University all but suspended activities as Winchell organized a school of geology providing instruction in elementary and advanced geology and in addition delivered 10 lectures on "The Derivative Origin of Species". The following year he repeated his performance with eight popular lectures, "Chapters from the Lifetime of a World". Apparently, he returned to the campus only once after leaving (in 1879) and then to give the J. Dorman Steele lecture in 1888. He died in Ann Arbor in 1891.
The Department has recognized his contributions with the Alexander Winchell Distinguished Alumni Awards. Winchell Hall was opened in 1900 as a university dormitory (demolished in 1984 to make room for Schine Student Center).