Cornelius Vanderbilt’s gifts to the university included endowment of this award, given since 1877 for first honors in each graduating class. The medal is gold.
Obverse. The profile of Cornelius Vanderbilt is a replica of the one by sculptor Salathiel Ellis on the gold medal that was presented to the Commodore by action of Congress in 1864 to express the nation’s gratitude for the gift of his steamship, the Vanderbilt, to the government during the Civil War.
Reverse. The words “Founder’s Medal for First Honors” appear on the reverse of the medal with space below for the recipient’s name, date and the school or college to be engraved.