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 world.

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 gone along.

"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 management.

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.

If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Malissa Endsley, director of media relations, at or call 915-674-2692.

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Last update: October 29, 1997