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2016 Hall of Fame

2016 Hall of Fame Ceremony



Kip Cornett, Bachelor of General Studies '77

Karl “Kip” Cornett was born in Hazard, Ky., and moved as a teenager to Lexington where he attended and graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1977. Just a short seven years later, Kip founded CORNETT, an advertising firm that has become one of the leading agencies in the region.

While at UK, Kip took great interest in creativity as well as campus engagement. During his years at the university, he was president of Theta Chi Fraternity, vice-president of the Student Center Board, vice-president of the Concert Committee and was highly involved in numerous other campus activities. He was also privileged to learn from some of Kentucky’s greatest modern day writers, including Gurney Norman and James Baker Hall.

Taking advantage of his love for writing and creativity, Kip founded CORNETT in the fall of 1984. The company quickly grew and now employs over 60 people and works closely with such brands as Valvoline, Keeneland, Tempur+Sealy, Buffalo Trace Distillery as well as the University of Kentucky, UK Athletics and UK Healthcare. Kip and his team helped bring the iconic “See Blue” campaign to life for UK as well as several other academic and athletic advertising campaigns.

Kip’s great passion for the city of Lexington and UK has been evidenced throughout his life. He and his wife are Patterson Fellows. He has also contributing extensively to the English Department, and is currently serving as an instructor in the fall semester at UK.

In 2015, Kip served as the chair of the Breeders’ Cup Festival Committee, helping Keeneland and the city execute one of the most successful runnings of the event in its 31-year history. He is actively involved with numerous boards and civic efforts, including The Fayette Alliance, YMCA, The Lyric Theatre, and Picnic With The Pops Commission.

He is married to fellow UK alum Ellen Sanger Cornett (’77) and has two children, Charlotte and Davis, along with two step-children, Ben Kessinger and Christy Hiler.


Dr. Sally Mason, B.A. Zoology '72, Honorary Doctorate '12

Sally Mason became the 20th President of the University of Iowa on Aug. 1, 2007. Trained as a cell and developmental biologist, she has held tenured faculty positions in biology at the University of Kansas, Purdue University and the University of Iowa.

The daughter of an immigrant father and the first child in her family to attend college, Mason received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky in zoology in 1977, and a Ph.D. in cellular, molecular, and developmental biology from the University of Arizona. She joined the molecular biosciences faculty at the University of Kansas in 1981 and won appointment as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1995. A strong advocate of undergraduate education, she received awards for outstanding undergraduate advising and teaching, and she was awarded a prestigious Kemper Teaching Fellowship. Mason served as provost of Purdue University from 2001–2007.

Mason is the author of many scientific papers and has obtained a number of research grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Wesley Research Foundation, and the Lilly Endowment. She has held leadership positions in such organizations as the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences; the National Science Foundation Directorate for Education and Human Resources; the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU); the American Council on Education (ACE); the Universities Research Association; Campus Compact; the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC); the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors.; the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association; the Task Force on National Energy Policy and Midwestern Competitiveness of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; the Association of Governing Boards Council of Presidents; and the National Medal of Science President’s Committee. She is the proud holder of honorary doctorates from the University of Kentucky and Notre Dame University.

She currently serves as a Senior Fellow, participating as a search consultant and general consultant, for the Association of Governing Boards.


Dr. Robert M. Ireland, J.D., Ph.D., Department of History

A native of Lincoln, Neb., Robert M. Ireland​ received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska and a J.D. degree from Stanford University. After practicing law for a little more than a year in Portland, Ore., (he is a 50-plus year member of the Oregon State Bar), he returned to the University of Nebraska where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in history and joined the University of Kentucky faculty in 1967.

At UK, Ireland taught classes at all levels including introductory courses in U.S. history as well as courses in American Legal History and United States Constitutional History, and an undergraduate seminar on Famous American Criminal Trials. He served several terms as the history department's director of undergraduate studies and director of undergraduate advising.

During his 41 years as a member of the Department of History, Ireland was the recipient of numerous teaching awards including a three-year term as the Distinguished Teacher of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Teaching (Tenured Faculty), the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award, several Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Awards, and a Top Ten Teacher selection by graduating classes every year the awards were granted. He also received the University of Kentucky Outstanding Advisor Award and A Teacher Who Made a Difference Award presented by the UK College of Education.

Ireland has written three books on the history of 19th century Kentucky counties and county government and a book on the history of the Kentucky constitutions. He also has written numerous articles on the criminal justice system of Kentucky and the 19th century United States. Ireland received the Thomas D. Clark Award of Excellence in Kentucky History and several Richard H. Collins Awards for scholarly achievement from the Kentucky Historical Society.

In retirement, Ireland immerses himself in reading, taking the Great Courses on a variety of topics, traveling with his wife, Sandra, and tutoring reading at Harrison Elementary School. He also enjoys spending time with his eight grandchildren.

Dr. Judith A. Lesnaw, B.S., Ph.D., Department of Biology

Judith A. Lesnaw​ was born in Chicago, Ill., where she earned an Associate of Arts degree from Wright Junior College. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology, a doctorate in Biology (Virology), and postdoctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. In 1974, she joined the faculty of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Kentucky and embarked on an exciting and rewarding 36 year career of research, teaching, and academic service.

Lesnaw’s research program combined genetic, biochemical, and recombinant DNA technologies toward an understanding of the way in which a group of viruses that includes rabies and Ebola replicates. She was awarded more than two million dollars in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense to support her research and her Ph.D., masters, and postdoctoral students. The information that emerged contributed to our understanding of complex viral proteins and to the future design of new therapeutic agents.

Upon her arrival at UK, Lesnaw established graduate and undergraduate courses in molecular virology for which students dubbed her “Virus Master,” an honorary title that she holds to this day. She shared her belief that “viruses are not altogether nasty” through public lectures and workshops including the IBM Excel Series, High School Biotechnology Program at Transylvania University, UK Saturday Seminar Program, and Donavan Scholars Program. Additionally, she taught interdisciplinary courses aimed at integrating science with the humanities.

Committed to the responsibilities of academic service, Lesnaw was a member of the NIH Medical Biochemistry Study Section, reviewed for virology and biochemistry journals, co-hosted the first meeting of the American Society for Virology in Lexington, was co-program leader in the Markey Cancer Center at UK, and elected member a of the UK Faculty Senate, Senate Council, and the UK Presidential Search Committee (2000).

Lesnaw currently resides in Wilmington, Del., where she pursues her passions for photography, early music, and poetry.