Centrepiece Online | Spring 2010
Homecoming 2009 recognizes an exceptionally talented group
Each year since 1963, the Centre Alumni Association has presented Distinguished Alumni Awards for professional achievements, civic accomplishments, and/or service to the College. The Young Alumnus/a Award, added in 1993, honors the achievements and/or service of alumni who have graduated within the last 15 years.
Distinguished Alumna Tracey Corey ’83
Home is: Louisville
Occupation: Kentucky Chief Medical Examiner and professor of pathology and pediatrics, University of Louisville
Education: biochemistry and molecular biology major; M.D., U of L
Family: Husband, Don Burbrink; children, John Dickens ’12 and Ben Handy
A nationally recognized expert in pediatric forensics and one of the country’s leading medical examiners, Tracey Corey ’83 saw her first autopsy while still at Centre. A summer internship researching infant death patterns with Kentucky’s chief medical examiner followed during medical school. Before she knew it, she was hooked on her unusual life’s work.
She joined the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office as a pathology resident in 1987, and a decade later had worked her way up to the top slot. As the commonwealth’s chief medical examiner, she oversees an office of 13 forensic specialists and associated administrative and technical staff, who conduct nearly 2,500 autopsies annually at offices in Louisville, Frankfort, Madisonville, and Fort Thomas.
Corey’s accomplishments are many: co-editor of the international publication Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, co-author of the chapter on forensic pathology in the standard textbook on pediatric pathology, and author of the chapter on investigating child abuse in the Handbook of Forensic Pathology. She consults on pediatric forensic pathology for the FBI’s Child Abduction Serial Killer Program. And she’s been featured on such true-life crime programs as 48 Hours and Dateline.
With such a list, no wonder she is known for her high level of mental and physical energy, telling one reporter, “If I didn’t run, I might spontaneously combust.” A competitive rider in high school, she has in the last few years made time to return to her horses.
As draining and as gruesome as her days may sometimes seem, Corey says she is drawn to her work by the challenge of working out the pieces of a tragedy. “Every case is like a puzzle—even the most routine, common cases always have some little twist,” she has said. “I like the challenge of figuring out where that pattern injury came from, how that correlates with the final event.”
But even more than the personal satisfaction of solving the puzzle is the opportunity to listen to the dead.
“We are here to basically help the decedent tell the story. They cannot speak to us verbally anymore, so they speak to us through the physical findings. And it is our job to make sure that we are paying attention,” she has said.
Her job, she told Dateline in 2007, makes her “very, very aware of how precious every single day is, how precious every single hour that you have on this planet is. And that’s why I fill them all up as much as I can.”
Distinguished Alumnus C. Thomas Hardin ’63
Home is: Louisville
Occupation: Retired director of photography, Louisville Courier-Journal, Louisville Times, and Detroit News
Education: business major
Family: Wife, Mary Clyde Callaway Hardin ’62; children, Lindy Hardin Chapman ’89 and Lyle Hardin Browne
Tom Hardin ’63 sees the world through a photographer’s eye. It’s that creative vision which made him so successful as director of photography at newspapers in Louisville and Detroit, which won him Southern Photographer of the Year and Regional Photographer of the Year honors, and which got him inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.
Hardin got his first camera at 14 and before long had appropriated the family kitchen to use as a darkroom in the evenings.
“I set up an enlarger and mixed the chemicals,” he recalls. “As the first photos appeared in the developer tray, that was a magic moment. Over the next few decades, that process was repeated after almost each assignment until we all converted to digital in the mid-1990s. Now the image is immediately viewable on the back of the camera—that, too, is a magic moment, when you hope that what you are photographing just might be something really interesting . . . and then you see it!”
The day after graduation, he joined the Louisville Courier-Journal and its afternoon paper, the Louisville Times, as an intern. Following a six-month stint in the Army, he returned to Louisville and the beginning of a 28-year affiliation during a period when the Courier-Journal was considered one of the top 10 papers in the country. After leaving the Courier-Journal in 1993, he spent three and a half years as director of photography at the Detroit News, before retiring at 55.
And his work has not been just behind the camera. During 18 years as the Courier-Journal’s director of photography, he supervised a staff of as many as 28 photographers. His photographers won three Pulitzer Prizes, including one awarded to the entire photo staff in 1976 for coverage of court-ordered busing in Louisville, the first time a Pulitzer had so honored a photo staff. And he was the driving force behind the movement to permit cameras in Kentucky courtrooms, according to John S. Palmore, the Kentucky Supreme Court chief justice who officially opened the courts to cameras in 1981. He has also edited three books—including the recent Centre history, Our Standard Sure: Centre College Since 1819, a five-year labor of loyalty—and taught numerous photo workshops.
In their spare time, he and his wife pursue in an unusual hobby: collecting original maps by Abraham Ortelius, the 16th-century cartographer who created the first modern atlas. “His maps are known for strong artistic renderings of how the world was thought to be at the time,” says Hardin. “The cartouche on each map is usually distinctive, elaborate, and beautiful, and so is the map’s typography.”
Young Alumnus Greg D. Smith ’95
Hometown: Owensboro, Ky
Now lives in: Indianapolis
Occupation: Senior conservation scientist, Indianapolis Museum of Art
Education: Chemistry and anthropology major; analytical/physical chemistry Ph.D., Duke
Family: Wife, Shannon Johnson Smith ’94; children, Beatrice and Maccabee; siblings, Bert Smith ’97, Sara Smith ’90
“From the moment I got to Centre, I struggled with what I was going to be in life,” says Greg Smith ’95. “I felt torn between two seemingly disparate academic disciplines: science or the humanities.” He credits Centre’s liberal arts focus with allowing him to explore both and ultimately to find a novel career that successfully combines the two.
As an art conservation scientist, he works at the “interface of the arts and sciences,” he says, using analytical chemistry techniques to study pigments and their preservation in manuscripts, works of art, and archeological artifacts.
Not to mention, he gets to handle some pretty amazing art. “I can remember walking into the conservation lab at the National Gallery of Art, where I did a two-year postdoctoral fellowship, and there was Rembrandt on one easel, Monet on another, Rothko, Modigliani, etc., etc.,” he recalls. “These are the images that we all grew up with and studied as reproductions at Centre. When you get the chance to investigate a work up close, remove small samples for analysis, see it transformed and preserved through conservation, it is an exhilarating treat.”
Among the pieces he’s studied—and touched—are the British Library’s two Gutenberg Bibles and a painting attributed to Jan Vermeer.
The Vermeer came with a question: Had the 17th-century Dutch master actually painted the unsigned work, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal? Smith’s research helped provide evidence that the pigments were consistent with those used by Vermeer; the painting went on to sell for $30 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2004.
A chemistry and anthropology major at Centre, Smith spent five field seasons on two archeological digs in Israel and earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at Duke before embarking on a series of three post-doctoral positions studying pigments and paints.
The first was a year at University College, London, as one of two Marshall Sherfield Fellows named that year, followed by post-doc positions at the National Synchrotron Light Source and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where he studied the materials used by modern artists. He then spent five years teaching at SUNY Buffalo State College, which offers one of only three art conservation graduate programs in the country, as the first Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Conservation Science. In December he joined the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he will develop a new conservation science facility backed by a $2.6-million grant from the Lilly Endowment and another $1.5 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
In spite of a lengthy list of professional achievements, Smith turns personal when asked of which he is most proud.
Just days before setting off for London to take up his Marshall Sherfield award, he married Shannon Johnson ’94. “After 16 years together, I’d still list that among my greatest accomplishments,” he says.