Honoring Wellesley’s 2016 Alumnae Achievement Awards Recipients

2016 Alumnae Achievement Award winners
October 17, 2016

On Friday, the Wellesley College community gathered to honor the three recipients of the 2016 Alumnae Achievement Awards, Marian Burros ’54, a New York Times and Washington Post food writer and editor who transformed how Americans cook; Maria Morris Hambourg ’71, a preeminent art scholar who changed how the art world looked at photography as the founding curator of the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Debra Knopman ’75, a leading researcher and policymaker seeking solutions to our most pressing environmental issues.

The Achievement Awards, which have been presented annually since 1970 by the Wellesley College Alumnae Association, are the highest honor given to Wellesley alumnae. Recipients are chosen for achievement and distinction in their fields.

“What propels Wellesley graduates is a desire to contribute, a drive to transform the world around them. This year’s Alumnae Achievement Award recipients each embody this spirit in distinct and powerful ways,” said President Paula Johnson. “They have worked hard to enhance and energize the landscape of their respective fields, developing new ideas and new ways to solve problems. They have forged successful approaches to changing arenas as diverse as the home, the museum, and our natural world.”

While on campus, Debra Knopman gave a lecture Friday morning called “Urban Responses to Climate Change.” And Marian Burros signed copies of her book The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook, the revised edition of her classic bestseller.

Meet the Recipients of the 2016 Alumnae Achievement Awards

Marian Burros ’54
Transformational food and lifestyle journalist

Marian Burros has been a transformative influence in American writing about food, food safety, health, and agriculture, both as a cookbook author and a journalist. Coming onto the scene when Americans had tired of TV dinners but didn’t always have time to master the art of French cooking, Burros showed a knack for adapting complicated restaurant recipes for home chefs. Her books spoke to the needs of cooks at every skill level. With titles like Elegant But Easy (written with Lois Liebeskind Levine ’52) and Cooking for Comfort, they conveyed a message that cuisine didn’t have to be dauntingly complex to be delicious.

Maria Morris Hambourg ’71
Photography champion, preeminent art scholar, curator

Maria Morris Hambourg is a highly regarded art historian and curator. Her championing of photography led to the creation, in 1992, of the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with her as curator. It was the first time in decades that a new department had been established at the museum, and her success in creating it within such a deeply traditional institution has been called “perhaps her most enduring achievement.”

Debra Knopman ’75
Engineer, complex problem solver, policymaker

Many of the biggest challenges facing humanity today are scientific and engineering problems: nuclear waste management, for instance, or environmental restoration or long-term water resources planning. And these are the challenges that Debra Knopman has been wrestling with throughout her career.

Past and Future Recipients

You can browse a list and read profiles of the past years’ award recipients, including architect Eleanor Raymond 1909, nonprofit executive Ophelia Dahl DS ’94, secretaries of state Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 and Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69, journalist Callie Crossley ’73, sustainable food pioneer Eva Sommaripa ’63, author Nora Ephron ’62, astronaut Pamela Melroy ’83, and costume designer Patricia Zipprodt ’46, among many others.

If you are inspired to nominate an alumna as a candidate for the award, you can learn more about the nomination process online.