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After 48 years of service with the New York State Geological Survey, G. Gordon Connally ’56 became the seventh recipient of New York State Museum’s John Mason Clarke Medal.

Connally says he was “dumbfounded, very proud, and very humbled” to receive the award that honors individuals who serve the museum directly through leadership and contributions as staff or through support from outside the organization.

“When the introductions started, I didn’t pay too much attention except to wonder who was being honored,” he says. “When Don Cadwell, my former student at New Paltz State and Lafayette faculty member from 1972-1975, got to ‘bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Lafayette’ I almost fell off my chair.”

During his senior year, Connally’s interest in geology developed after taking a class taught by James L. Dyson ’33, John H. Markle Professor of Geology.

“He painted a picture of the Earth that both challenged and fascinated me. The following year I accumulated 20 credits at Penn in its college collateral courses in order to get into graduate school,” he explains.

“Of course my math and science course work helped professionally, but I think that the liberal arts education at Lafayette gave me the experience to deal with people, situations, and community responsibilities.”

After receiving his M.S. from the University of Rochester and Ph.D. from Michigan State University, Connally returned to Lafayette to teach geology from 1967-1970. He then served as a geological consultant for colleges and universities, New York State Geological Survey (NYSGS), United States Geological Survey (USGS), New York State Education Department, and the Bureau of Science Education and Bureau of Curriculum Development.

In 1981, he began working on the NYSGS and USGS surficial mapping program in cities across New York from Buffalo and Syracuse to Ticonderoga and New York City. Still mapping across the state, he has most recently been working as a research associate for the Research and Collections Division of the New York State Museum and teaching a summer workshop for earth science teachers.

He says the most challenging and rewarding aspect of his career “is always the field work and the opportunity to go into the field and map glacial geology.”

“I still spend my field seasons in a tent, sleeping on the ground,” he says.

Connally continues to attend NYSGS meetings and write and present professional papers. He and his wife Mary are supporters of the Buffalo Philharmonic, Studio Arena Theatre, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and Museum of Science. In addition to attending Buffalo Bills and University of Buffalo athletic events, they enjoy traveling to visit children, grandchildren, friends, and colleagues across the country.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles