Museum Specialist for U.S. State Department
To Receive ACU's Young Alumnus Award
for immediate release Oct. 22, 1997
A U.S. Department of State museum specialist who created his own
dream job will be honored as Abilene Christian University's Young Alumnus
of the Year during Homecoming this weekend.
The annual award is presented by the Alumni Association to
recognize alumni under 40 years of age who have made significant
contributions to their field and ACU.
Cohn Drennan, who graduated from ACU in 1980 with a bachelor's
degree in industrial design, will receive his award Saturday during
Homecoming Chapel, starting at 10:45 a.m. in Moody Coliseum. A reception
in his honor will begin at 11:45 a.m. in the Hall of Servants in the
Biblical Studies Building.
Drennan has worked as the acting director/museum specialist for the
Department of State's Art in Embassies Program in Washington, D.C., since
1989. His duties include supervising the management of an $85 million
collection of works of art on loan to U.S. embassies and missions all over
The works come from museums, galleries, institutions, corporate
collections, individual collections and artists all over the United States.
He said his job is "pretty specific and there aren't really any others like
it," which is the reason he has had to write the job description as he has
"We bring great works of art out of storage and put them to work
for the American people," he said. "It is one of the program's goals to
provide representation from all regions and cultures of the country."
The art is displayed in the residences of American ambassadors
worldwide. According to Drennan, his staff has been very busy after the
appointment of 90 new ambassadors, six of which are from Texas. In the
past two months, he has travelled to Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Vienna and
back to Paris.
"I work with the most talented people on the planet," Drennan said.
Because of its large value, the proper handling and protection of
the art is one of his main responsibilities. He said he is uniquely
qualified for the job because of his background in conservation and risk
For five consecutive years, Drennan has been awarded the U.S.
Department of State Certificate of Outstanding Performance, which is given
annually for exceptional job performance. He is also a 1997 nominee for
the Meritorious Honor Award. He was nominated by an ambassador in Cambodia
who was pleased with the work done by Drennan and his staff in the delivery
of 19th century landscape paintings. Drennan said after viewing the art
some of the Cambodians worked to adopt environmental policies of their own
because they were so impressed with the images in the American paintings
and wanted to protect their own land's beauty.
He has been a guest lecturer on censorship for various groups
including the Corcoran School of Art, the American Library Association and
the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression.
Before working for the Department of State, Drennan was the museum
specialist at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where he
managed the administration and conservation of the permanent collection of
works of art on paper. From 1987-89, Drennan was responsible for a
re-organization of the Department of Prints, Photographs and Drawings.
After the department's budget had been cut five years in a row, Drennan
said he "did his homework and did some ground-zero budgeting," which
resulted in an increase of more than 400 percent.
In 1986, he received his master's degree in fine arts from the
University of North Texas, where he also worked as a teaching fellow for
almost three years.
Travelling is not new to Drennan. While at ACU, he was involved in
the ACU musical group, Hilltoppers, which travelled overseas for many USO
tours. He was also in the Big Purple Marching Band, the Jazz Band and
eventually began his own band, Essence.
He and his wife Catherine Drennan (Cubstead), who attended ACU for
two years, reside in Burke, Va. She currently works as director of
communications for the Global Environmental and Technological Foundation.
He is also the son of Jerry and Peggy Drennan who are on ACU's industrial
technology and music faculties, respectively.
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- Last update: October 29, 1997