The “Search” Award — the William Greenleaf Eliot Society’s highest honor — was given to David C. Farrell at the Society’s 42nd annual dinner on April 16 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The award is presented each year to a person who has made enduring contributions to Washington University in St. Louis.
In addition to the award ceremony, guests were treated to a presentation by former NASA astronaut Captain Jerry Linenger.
At the ceremony, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton praised Farrell “for going the extra mile to ensure success in everything you undertake.”
“Over the years, we have come to rely on David Farrell’s expert guidance and counsel. His commitment has advanced the mission of Washington University, the School of Medicine, and medical education and health care,” said Wrighton.
Farrell retired as chairman and chief executive officer of the May Department Stores Company in 1998, capping a career that spanned four decades. Under his leadership, May became one of the nation’s largest and most profitable retailers.
Farrell is an emeritus trustee and a member of the Advisory Board of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center as well as the School of Medicine’s National Council. As a member of the Eliot Society’s executive committee and chair of The Danforth Circle, he helped grow The Danforth Circle’s membership by 28 percent in three years.
As a member of the Board of Trustees for 30 years, Farrell served on the executive, University finance, medical finance, development and compensation committees. He chaired the compensation committee from 1999 until 2005, at which time he was elected to emeritus status.
In 2003 he and his wife, Betty, made a leadership gift to build the Farrell Teaching and Learning Center on the Medical Campus. Three years earlier, the Farrells, in partnership with the former May Department Stores Company, established the David C. and Betty Farrell Distinguished Professorship in Medicine. They are Annual and Life Members of The Danforth Circle.
In 2006 the couple received the Robert S. Brookings Award, which is conferred by the Board of Trustees upon individuals for advancing the alliance between WUSTL and the greater St. Louis community. Farrell also has received an honorary doctorate from WUSTL, as well as the 2nd Century Award from the School of Medicine.
In addition to his commitment to WUSTL, Farrell is active in civic and cultural organizations, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Symphony, and the St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
His contributions for enriching the quality of life for St. Louisans were acknowledged by The St. Louis Award, and also by the Regional Commerce and Growth Association with its “Right Arm of St. Louis Award.”
The “Search” award is a hand-wrought replica of the sculpture The Search designed by Professor Emeritus of Art Heikki Seppa.
The Eliot Society, founded in 1959, has more than 5,000 members providing unrestricted support for the University.