Feb 10, 2021

Phil Bartels – Cornell

Pursuit of Greatness
Phil Bartels – Cornell

Phil Bartels, Cornell ’71, has been recognized by Cornell University for exemplary alumni service work. With the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service award in 2020. The award was given at Cornell’s 2021 Reunion. In a time of very contentious relations between Greek life and university administration, Phil stands as the perfect model for building such bridges.

Phil attended Cornell, as did his parents before him. He has donated his time and expertise to nonprofit organizations he cares about all his adult life. He is a former president of the Greenwich Audubon Society and a former board chair at the University of New Haven. He has donated thousands of hours to help various nonprofit organizations with complex legal issues.

For over forty years, Cornell University has benefited greatly by Phil’s charitable work. As a tax and trial attorney trained at the University of Chicago Law School and as an attorney at the second largest law firm in Connecticut, Phil has lent his expertise to numerous parts of Cornell. He is a life member of the University Council and an Honorary Member of the Quill and Dagger Honor Society.

Phil helped his Fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, and several other fraternities on campus to form tax-exempt educational corporations, a status that has led to increased financial stability and has enabled them to accept alumni donations. Brother Bartels is a 2012 recipient of the Fraternity’s Legion of Honor award, and 2017 recipient of the Legion of Merit, both for his extraordinary service to his chapter and the greater Fraternity.

Because of Phil, the Lab of Ornithology, the Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams, the Paleontological Research Institution, and Cornell’s Shoals Marine Laboratory have improved their governance and financial outlooks.

A past president of his class, he always returns to campus for Reunion, as do his two children, both Cornellians themselves. But his relationships with Cornell go beyond alumni connections and beyond pro bono legal work. A Cornell Foremost Benefactor, Philip Bartels is a friend and advisor to deans, directors, professors, and students. His deep interest in the work of the university and in its people to this day—sparked all those years ago in his childhood visits to campus—is a testament to his character and devotion.

Excerpted from piece by freelancer Emily Hopkins

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