Founders' Medal

Proposed in 1974 by President Leo Nussbaum (1970-82), the Founders' Medal is given by the trustees to persons of rare and exceptional distinction.

Past recipients

2022 | Jack B. Evans ’70, William P. Johnson ’53 and Vincent L. Martin 
2018 | Bruce Spivey ’56
2017 | Marv Levy ’50
2001 | Don Ebinger ’47, Russell Knapp ’30 and William Whipple ’35
1980 | F. Gaynor Evans '31 and S. Donald Stookey '36
1976 | Paul Engle '31 and William Shirer '25


Coe celebrates Dec. 5, 1851, as Founders' Day because it is on that date that the Rev. Williston Jones began teaching young men a pre-seminary curriculum in his parsonage of the Presbyterian Church in Cedar Rapids.

The first Founders' Day was held in 1911. It was regularly held for the next decade to honor the people, places and events that make up the college's history. Founders' Day was revived in the late 1920s and ’30s and has periodically been honored since. The last Founders' Day was in 2001 to honor the 150th anniversary of Coe College.

Medal eligibility

The Founders' Medal may be awarded to someone who:

  • Is distinguished nationally or internationally in their field of accomplishment.
  • Is distinguished in service to Coe College.
  • Exemplifies in extraordinary degree those qualities of a liberally educated person who serves as a model for students, faculty and alumni.
  • Has conspicuous distinction, either as an alum or non-alum.
  • May have attained one or more of the following awards: honorary degree, the Alumni Award of Merit, the Distinguished Service Award, the Young Alum Award or the Athletic Hall of Fame.