Edward Ahart ’69, chair of the Board of Trustees, will recognize Alan Griffith ’64 as the recipient of the Lafayette Medal for Distinguished Service during the 180th Commencement Saturday, May 23.
Griffith, retired vice chairman of The Bank of New York, is retiring from the Board of Trustees and has been elected to emeritus status. He has served on the board since 1994, and was chair from 2001-10.
Commissioned by the board in 1987, the Lafayette Medal is the College’s premier award for volunteers, given to those who have a demonstrated record of voluntary service in a variety of areas with noteworthy achievement in each. The medal was last presented in 2011, and Griffith is the tenth recipient.
Griffith’s record of service to Lafayette is long and distinguished. A member of the board’s Steering Committee and Executive Committee, he also serves on the committees on Compensation and Educational Policy. He has been a member of the committees on Easton, External Affairs, Financial Policy, and Student Life.
Griffith served as chair of the Presidential Search Committee that identified Alison Byerly as Lafayette’s 17th president and as a member ex-officio of the search committee that identified Daniel Weiss as its 16th president. He was a member of the All-College Committee on Selectivity, All-College Task Force on Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and Ad Hoc Committee on Retirees’ Medical Benefits. Before becoming a trustee, Griffith served as the first chair of the Lafayette Leadership Council. He received the College’s George T. Woodring ’19 Volunteer of the Year Award in 1999 and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 2001.
Griffith and his wife, Elizabeth F. “Penny” Griffith, were inducted into the Société d’Honneur in 2005. In recognition of their generous support, the Special Collections Suite in Skillman Library is named in their honor. In 2005-06, he established the Griffith Consistent Giver Match as an incentive to the College’s young alumni to give more consistently. More recently, Alan and Penny Griffith endowed a scholarship fund in support of the Live Connected, Lead Change campaign.
After graduating from Lafayette with a bachelor of arts degree as a government and law major, he earned a master of business administration degree from Baruch College of the City University of New York.
In 2005, Griffith retired as vice chairman of The Bank of New York and The Bank of New York Corporation, Inc., roles in which he had served since 1994. He served as president of the bank from 1990 to 1994. He was also a director of the bank and the company from 1990 until his retirement in 2005. Among his many responsibilities during a distinguished 41-year career was the formation of a division to provide financing and banking services to the communications, entertainment, and publishing industries. During his last 10 years at the bank, he directed the international banking sector. At the time of his retirement, The Bank of New York endowed a scholarship fund at Lafayette in his name.
Griffith is chair of the board of trustees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and a member emeritus of the board of governors of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. He was a founding member of the national board of trustees of the ALS Association, dedicated to the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and served on that board for over 30 years. He also serves on the advisory board of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
The Lafayette Medal was designed by Frank Gasparro, the eleventh chief engraver of the United States Mint, and is based on the bust of the Marquis de Lafayette that was executed in 1790 by noted French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon (1741-1828). The medal includes Pardee Hall in the background and Lafayette’s signature from a personal letter to George Corbin Washington, adopted son of President and Mrs. George Washington and caretaker of Mount Vernon.