Graduation Reminiscences from June 1974

Many of us are attending virtual graduations this spring, celebrating high school and college students who are achieving a significant milestone in a less-than-traditional way.  What better time to reflect on our own Class of 1974 graduation and the job market into which we entered in summer 1974?

As you can see from the front page of the 1974 graduation issue of The Cornell Daily Sun, our class had 2,475 graduates on Monday, June 3, 1974.  In keeping with longstanding Cornell tradition, our commencement had no guest speaker or honorary degrees.  Cornell President Dale Corson delivered our commencement address—all Cornell presidents have done the same.  The topic of President Corson’s  address was Morality.  Does anyone remember that talk?!?

We gathered on the Arts Quad on that long-ago spring day and paraded past the Olin Library steps where faculty and administrators were gathered.  We marched up to Barton Hall for the graduation ceremony.  It was quite warm inside Barton and the crowd was in the thousands.  We were the last class to graduate in Barton Hall—since 1975, all Cornell graduation ceremonies have been held outdoors, rain or shine, in Schoellkopf Stadium

The Sun of May 31, 1974 reflects on the job market into which we graduated.  “Most of those who will graduate plan to continue their schooling, but many say they hope to start their careers. Among the more unusual jobs taken by seniors in this year’s class include a ranch hand in Wyoming, a zookeeper in Utica, and a co-manager of a Southern tobacco farm.  The jobs range from the banal to the extraordinary and include bank teller, toolmaker, engineer, computer programmer, researcher, teacher, salesperson, and employment in laboratories, farming, the military and the Peace Corps.”  The article also notes that Engineering grads have plenty of jobs to choose from and demand is booming.  The Cornell Career Center assistant director said he was optimistic about liberal arts graduates being persistent and ultimately finding jobs.

Here’s to celebrating all graduates—from 2020 and from 1974!

Live Together, See Together, Know Together

My guess is we are all trying to figure out how to make sense of this new reality in which we find ourselves.  Recently I read an interesting linguistic take on the word COVID. Co means together, something we do with others, like cooperate, cohabitate, coordinate.  Vid has different meanings in different languages.  In Spanish it means living.  In Latin it means seeing.  And in Sanskrit it means knowing.  So let’s think about ways that we are living together, seeing together and knowing together during these times of Covid.

I imagine we are all seeing things a bit, or maybe a lot, differently than we used to.  Perhaps we have more time to look at (and listen to) things, even if doing so remotely. Check these out:

  • The Cornell Botanic Gardens is joyful!  Seeing is not just what your eyes see but how you think about what you are seeing.  Daily, we see the beauty of the human spirit with outpourings of love and care, the sharing of art and music and support for the vulnerable.  Together we see more than just ourselves and that is beautiful.
  • Our classmate Julie Kane’s poem “Used Book” was featured this week on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac.
  • The Cornell Hangovers–I Won’t Give Up (Alumni Quarantine Edition.

“Knowing together”, as schools and universities are closed, takes on a whole new meaning.  Interestingly, Cornell has been a pioneer in distance learning for the past 130 years.  Read this fascinating account of our history of remote learning. Pictured here is Martha Van Rensselaer.  She pioneered the study of home economics and distance learning in 1990 with a correspondence course she designed for famers’ wives.  This led to more courses, a department, a school and a college.

So even though we are apart, we are all in this together–living, seeing and knowing– and from that we can draw strength!  Please continue to keep in touch and share your joys or your sadness or your thoughts with each other and on our class Facebook group.

Please be well!

Finding Joy

Hoping this email finds you and your love ones well, both physically and emotionally.  Physically, we are all sheltering, masked and gloved, and pretty isolated.  Emotionally, I hope we are all connecting and finding fun and joy wherever we can.

For me, I have been connecting with my family, old colleagues and friends, many from Cornell,  with happy hours, coffees and wine tastings.  I know many of you have been as well.  Please share your encounters through our Class Facebook Group.   In the past few weeks over 50 classmates have joined this group.  Do so, if you haven’t.

One classmate, Randee Mia Berman, is bringing some joy to New Yorkers through her “Operation Workers CoviDance”.  Dancing masked and 6 feet apart with local grocers, delivery folks, drivers and others who work for us, Randee Mia brings her “contagious” happiness to those she meets on the streets.  You can’t see their smiles but you sure can feel their joy!  You can follow Randee Mia on Facebook and Twitter.  She is pictured here at our last Reunion.

Finding beauty and joy in nature is easy, especially during springtime.  Virtually visit Cornell’s Botanic Gardens  and see the gorgeous daffodils or join an Earth Day webinar on Global Climate Stories.  With the cleaner air, the blues are bluer and the greens are greener and all the colors are so much more vibrant.  So that’s a silver lining!

 

 

TV binging?  Is it “Tiger King”, “Ozark” or just the comfort of old shows for you?  All are fun but, if you haven’t seen “Some Good News with John Krasinski”, you must.  It is pure joy!  There’s no direct Cornell connection for this but his character Jim worked with the Cornell grad character Andy on “The Office.”

A Cornell connection we did find is Maria DeJoseph Van Kerkhove ’99, an infectious-disease epidemiologist and WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19.  She has become a public face for WHO, participating in video press conferences every week and answering journalists’ questions.  Here’s an interesting article on testing and tracing and getting to the answers that are needed.  Add Maria and Dr. Fauci to the ranks of Cornellians bringing facts to allay fears during this tough time.

Each of us is missing something right now but I hope we are each also finding something that brings joy to our lives.

Please be well!

Sweet Connections During a Bitter Time

During this Passover and Easter season, we look to find the sweetness from the bitter time in which we find ourselves.  Here’s what some classmates are doing.

Classmate Perry Jacobs has been emailing with a group of his fraternity brothers and shared some fun information about Cornell concerts around our time.  Check out this list of archived Cornell Concert files dating back to 1971.  See if you remember being in Barton Hall for any of these performances.  And view this mini documentary about what is considered to be the Grateful Dead’s best concert ever, Barton Hall in May of 1977.  You don’t have to be a Dead Head to enjoy this!

Virtual Happy Hours are the latest thing and a easy way to connect with old friends.

Classmate Bill Howard and his wife Gwen are shown here enjoying one with some Cornell friends.  Next week my husband and I will be doing a virtual wine tasting with HLR Cellars, a vineyard owned by classmate Joan Schmidt Heller and her husband Steve (MS ’74 and PHD ’77).  One of their wines was chosen in this year’s Cornell Alumni Wine Program.  The Hellers and other wine makers, including Classmate John Williams’ Frog’s Leap, are doing these virtual tastings. Check them out and invite other Cornellians to join you.

 

Sign up for the free one-hour Cornell History lectures each Monday night at 7:30 pm EDT.  These sessions are lively, fast-paced and full of fun anecdotes.  This is an actual credit course, American Studies 2001, taught by Corey Earle ’07.  The course explores Cornell’s identity as “the first American university.”  To register and view a list of upcoming topics (April 13th is “Unrest & Activism:  The 1950s % 1960s”) click here.

And for the birdwatchers among us, you can view the birds at Cornell’s Sapsucker Woods here.

Finally, our last email spurred a number of classmates to join our Facebook Group.  If you haven’t done so, please do.  It’s easy and fun.

Please reach out and share how you are and what you are doing to keep busy and connected.

Wishing all of us some sweetness!  Please be well!

Good News April 1970 Edition

Fifty years ago we all got the good news that set the path for our lives–our Cornell acceptance letter!  Unlike today, we didn’t have to wait for a specified hour and day the last week in March (Ivy Admission Day), when several hundred thousand people tried to log in at 7 pm to learn their fate at eight elite schools, often finding the sites frozen or crashed. Instead, 50 years ago we raced home to check the mail daily, hoping for the thick envelope. (We thought thick was good.)

Classmate Bill Howard posted a wry meme about acceptance letters on our Class FaceBook page .  It resulted in a flurry of walking-memory-lane comments.  Everyone has their own fun memory of that day and we all seem eager to reach out and share that with each other.  Good news, even 50 year old good news, feels good!  So call or write to old and new friends to connect. Visit our FaceBook page, Zoom, Skype or FaceTime.  Also, share news of you and yours with Class Correspondent Jim Schoonmaker at js378@cornell.edu, who’s writing the next Cornell Alumni Magazine class notes.

Looking for those green shoots wherever we can find them these days, our campus may be quiet but the Cornell community has been busy helping.  The Johnson Art Museum has donated 2,000 gloves to Cayuga Medical Center and Bartels (the athletics building connected to Lynah Rink) is filled, at socially-appropriate distances,  with community members sewing for the Med Center.  A Cornell parent has donated 1,800 sets of PPE (personal protective equipment) to Weill Cornell.

If you haven’t seen this friends & family Zoom video with a Weill Cornell pulmonologist that literally went viral, it’s informative and comforting.

There is a lot of good (news, works, feelings and information) out there to help us through these tough times.

Please be well!

65th Birthday Reunion news and more

We had a great 65th Birthday Reunion celebration in Ithaca earlier this month, with more than 50 classmates and guests attending class dinners over a spectacular weekend.  We came from as far away as Texas, California, Colorado and Michigan—and as close as Ithaca. Special thanks to classmates Bob Baldini, who made all the final arrangements and ensured everything ran smoothly, and Perry Jacobs, who conceived of and promoted th Birthday Reunion.  Take a peek at the class photo below, from class VP Bill Howard, and plan now to attend our 45thReunion June 9-12, 2019!

Reunion weekend 2017 featured a number of highlights including a talk by Bill Nye ’77—The Science Guy—back for his own Reunion.  The sold-out crowd in Bailey Hall heard an entertaining and enlightening presentation by Nye on “How Cornellians Will Save the World.” Nye shared his experiences at Cornell as a mechanical engineering student, his early work at Boeing, and his relationship with Carl Sagan, who inspired Nye to become a science educator.  Watch Bill Nye’s Cornell talk on video here.

New Cornell President Martha Pollack shared her insights on her first seven weeks on campus in a one-on-one Reunion interview on the Bailey Hall stage.  President Pollack talked about why she decided to interview for the Cornell president’s job, how a professor at her undergraduate college (Dartmouth!) changed the course of her life, why free speech is critical on today’s college campuses, and how her husband and four cats are adjusting to life in Ithaca.   Check out Martha’s interview here. 

In her Cornell Commencement address last month, Martha Pollack talked about a Notable Class of ’74 member named Daniel Fried.  Daniel recently retired from a forty-year diplomatic career with the US Foreign Service after serving as US Ambassador to Poland and Special Assistant to Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, with a focus on Eastern Europe.  Martha directed our grads to consider Daniel’s retirement speech in which he said, “I learned never to underestimate the possibility of change, that values have power, and that time and patience can pay off.”  For the full text of Ambassador Fried’s remarks, click here.

Finally, looking for some intellectual stimulation this summer in one of the most beautiful places in the world?  Consider returning to campus to take a Cornell Adult University course.  Week-long classes are offered in July.  Choose among classes in history, politics, wines, kayaking, golf, archaeology, cooking, hip hop and more.  Visit the CAU website.

Happy Summer!

Saying Farewell to Beth Garrett

Six months ago Cornell and the Ithaca community greeted Beth Garrett and celebrated her inauguration. It was a spectacular late summer day and the Arts Quad was alive with excitement and expectation. Today the community gathered again, this time in Bailey Hall on a blustery early spring day, to bid a final farewell to our 13th president.

As I sat in Bailey waiting for the memorial to begin, I thought back to Charter Day last spring when Beth was first introduced to Cornell. A panel of current and former Cornell presidents plus the Harvard president—all graying eminences—sat in Bailey Hall discussing higher ed challenges. When Beth was asked to join the group on stage, all eyes were riveted on this person who projected an unbelievable amount of energy; her smile, her confidence, her intellect, and her very red dress captivated and electrified every one of us. At today’s ceremony there was a portrait of Beth placed where she had sat that afternoon—a clear reminder of our loss.

The memorial ceremony (which you can watch here) was a somber affair. The chair of the Cornell board of trustees, a student mentee, a friend of 25 years, her Weill Cornell attending physician and the Cornell provost each spoke of Beth’s extraordinary energy, passion, intelligence and her ability to engage. It was her doctor who helped all of us in attendance today put this profound loss in perspective. Dr. Orli Etingen was with Beth on her last day. She related that Beth managed to whisper a request: “Tell them there is a great road ahead for Cornell.”

We only wish Beth could be on that road with us….

Sincerely,

John H. Foote ‘74
Jhf25@cornell.edu

Why we give to Cornell…

Class of 1974 Class Scholarship winner sends this beautiful letter of gratitude. Read it here and learn more about Garret Guillen and our Class Scholarship.

Academic Year 2015 — 2016
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Oelschlager and the entire Class of 1974,
As I approach my final semester at Cornell University I realize that there is no way I could have adequately expressed appreciation when I first received your gift that allowed me to enter this amazing campus over 3 years ago. I still remember having the discussion with my parents, after the initial elation of being admitted, about whether or not attending this renowned institution was financially feasible. After receiving aid coupled with scholarship funds from your donations I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy every minute of my time at Cornell. Reflecting on all the experiences, the people, the classes, the campus, and all other aspects of the Cornell community I realize that it is time so valuable I couldn’t have known its worth as an incoming freshman and time that I hope to provide for another incoming freshman someday. As my brother goes through his freshman year at Cornell I try and explain to him the unique significance that his time at school will offer him because I am so excited that someone so close to me now has the same opportunity that I have enjoyed so greatly. Yet I experience difficulty trying to express my immense appreciation of my Cornell experience to him as I realize that his experience will also be unique and that he must find it on his own. I experience the same difficulty while trying to express my immeasurable gratitude to you and your colleagues who have made this experience possible for me. I now realize in my closing year that you have all sought to provide a student with such an incredible education because you all have received a similarly valuable gift in all of your own unique experiences at Cornell; and I now also carry that desire to share our Cornell community with others in need. I would like to thank you all again for allowing me to become a part of this amazing campus for the past 3 years; and I want to express my desire to continue to share this Cornell experience long past graduation.
With gratitude,
Garrett Guillen
Gmg83@cornell.edu

 

New College of Business

President Garrett and Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced in December a proposal to create a new College of Business at Cornell.  This College would include the current Johnson Graduate School of Management, the undergraduate business program (called “Ag Ec” in our day, now called “Applied Economics and Management (AEM)”) which is now in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the School of Hotel Administration.  To learn more about this proposal, which would require a change in the university by-laws, you may want to read both the official university announcement here and the Cornell Daily Sun articles and comments here.