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!

Bringing Spring Semester to a Close

This was Cornell’s last week of classes, all of which have been online since early April.   I teach a graduate level course in infrastructure policy in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology and speaking as someone who has never taught online, the last two months have been a real eye opener. I have come to realize what an enormous privilege it is to be a student at a residential college with constant in-person interaction with fellow students and faculty.  This is what all of us in the Class of 1974 experienced as undergrads.  Now, Cornell students, like students all over the world, have been deprived of this extraordinary opportunity because of the pandemic.

Kristen and I have been hunkered down at our home in Boston since mid-March, but we made a trip to Ithaca this week. Walking around campus as the first signs of spring are showing (it has been a late spring here, with snow (!?!) a few days ago) one feels the absence of the essential energy that makes the Hill the vibrant, stimulating place we all remember.  Whether that energy, in the form of 20,000 students, returns this Fall is now under intensive study by the University. Does Cornell bring back all students, some students, or no students in person?  We should know the answer by late June.

In the meantime, Cornellians’ creativity and passions are finding outlets that remind us why our Alma Mater is special.  Watch and listen to:

  • The Cornell Alma Mater performed virtually by members of the CU Wind Symphony (check out the students’ majors at the end—Any Person, Any Study….)
  • Cornell Chimes End-of-Year Concert earlier this week featuring two students working the chimes’ hand and foot pedals atop McGraw Tower and sending music across campus as dusk settles (check out the campus views).

Stay safe and healthy,

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!

Connect, COVID and Cornell

These are unsettling times so we are reaching out more often.  We encourage you to touch base with classmates via email, phone, Zoom calls or our class Facebook group (link is at the bottom of the email).  Social distance does not mean social disconnection.  So track down your old friends and catch up!

The Cornell campus is quiet, with most undergraduates back home and all classes cancelled until April 6, when courses will re-start remotely.  Touchdown, the Cornell bear, remains on campus but she has taken appropriate precautions to protect against the coronavirus.

Cornell is presenting a free COVID-19 virtual panel on March 24 at 1pm EST and March 28 at 7am featuring a panel of professors.  Register here.

In other Cornell-related coronavirus news, did you know that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the impressive public face of the pandemic and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, is a Cornell alum?  He graduated from Cornell Medical College in 1966 and has served six US presidents over the 50 years he’s been a doctor at NIH.  Fauci is currently the top infectious disease expert in the US.

And, Cornell Engineering and Weill Cornell Med are collaborating on the possibility of repurposing 3D printing machines to manufacture ventilators, which are in short supply globally.

With all of the bad news, we can take hope in the fact that spring has arrived in Ithaca. Crocuses and snowdrops are blooming, the ice has left Beebe Lake, and the red-wing blackbirds have returned to the Arboretum ponds—surly signs of brighter times ahead.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay engaged!

Bad News, Sad News, Good News & Giving Day

Because of coronavirus concerns, Cornell President Martha Pollack just announced Cornell will move to all-virtual instruction, prohibit gatherings of more than 100 people, discourage travel, and require students to complete all coursework at their permanent home residences after spring break.  Learn more about this just-breaking news here.

Recently I attended the annual Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference (CALC) in Las Vegas. The weekend was filled with wonderful tributes to our beloved 9th president Frank H. T. Rhodes.  Read more about the man, his work and his legacy here.  The campus memorial service is April 25th.

Maybe spring is approaching (always a hard call in Ithaca) but Libe Slope is snow-free at least for now.  This week the campus is celebrating with the Moog Festival  in honor of Robert Moog ’65, an electronic music pioneer whose archives have just been opened at the Cornell Library.  And the Black Excellence in Fashion  show is on display in Martha van Renssalaer Hall and is a must-see for fashionistas. Both events are displays and one can visit them in person or online through our links.  Sadly, online may be a “thing” for a while.

Giving Day is tomorrow and I would like to introduce you to classmate David Miller and his wife Anne Wenzel, recent winners of our Fred Bosch Award for their outstanding work on participation for our 45th Reunion, and share their Giving Day Message.

We are delighted to be involved with the Class of 1974, expanding outreach and inviting classmates to stay connected or re-connect.  Anne is not a Cornellian herself but has enjoyed reunions with David since we started dating 30+ years ago.  And we are proud to have watched both our children grow, flourish and graduate from Cornell (Emily Miller, Human Ecology ‘16 and Jeremy Miller, Engineering ‘19).

Cornell Giving Day—the annual one-day university-wide on-line fundraising extravaganza—is TOMORROW, March 12! 

With the acceleration of all things internet, on-line giving invitations are ubiquitous and easy to ignore.  But they are also just as easy to respond to with a quick donation.

Cornell Giving Day is really a highly democratic form of philanthropy, easy for all to engage and join.  You can specify a Cornell program, department, team or club that is near and dear to your heart.  Our family gives to the Class of ’74 Scholarship and the Big Red Marching Band, which created a valuable community of musicians for our children when they were at Cornell.

We encourage you to take just a minute on March 12th and make a donation on Cornell Giving Day.  All donations of any size and for any purpose are appreciated!  General support gifts and donations designated for our Class of ’74 Scholarship and/or our Christopher Reeve Scholar are also very welcome.  (Please note these links will not go live until Giving Day). Thanks!

 

Anne Wenzel and David Miller

Vice Presidents, Annual Fund Participation

 dbm86@cornell.edu

Please join Anne, David and me in participating in Giving Day!

Thank you and best wishes!

Shelley Cosgrove DeFord

President [Notable] Class of ‘74

Our New Christopher Reeve Scholar

Kristen Rupert shares this fun introduction from our new Christopher Reeve Scholar Thea Goldman.

Go to your 50th High School Reunion

This year, make it a point to get back to your high school reunion. For most of us, 2020 is the 50th anniversary of our high school graduation, and spring-summer 2020 is when many of the reunions happen. If ever there’s a time when a reunion class has critical mass, it’s 50 years out. The big reunions, high school or college, are 10-25-50. Fifty is special because of the, well, you know, odds of making it to the next one. (Actually, the odds are decent: College graduates live to almost 90 for women, mid-80s for men.)

If your high school alumni network is loosely organized and you haven’t heard about a possible reunion, check in with old high school friends you’re still in touch with. Reach out to your high school.  Many schools now have alumni offices or education foundations that can help connect alumni to each other and to the school.

Facebook is one of the best places to find long-lost classmates. Your high school alumni and maybe your HS class have a Facebook group. If there isn’t one for your class, you can create one easily. Make the group name public and the contents private. Mine is called Monroe High School Rochester NY MHS Class of 1970.  Invite people you know into the group and ask friends to invite their classmate friends. Ask them to post photos and a summary of how they’ve lived the last half century.

As for our Fair Cornell: Classes were canceled last Friday because of blizzard conditions.

Views of the bridge to Engineering quad on Cornell’s December 2nd, 2019 Snow Day. (Nandita Mohan / Sun Staff Photographer)

The women’s and men’s hockey teams are ranked #1 and #2 in the nation. The men’s basketball team beat Princeton (upset) and Princeton beat Cornell wrestling (bigger upset as Cornell hadn’t lost an Ivy match since 2002-2003). Dean of Engineering Lance Collins is bailing for Virginia Tech, which wants to set up a Cornell Tech NYC-like operation outside DC called Innovation Campus. Cornell’s Dean of the Dyson School, Lynn Wooten, is heading to Boston to be president of Simmons University.  And this is the month for you to vote for two Cornell alumni-elected trustees (deadline Feb. 29 5 pm EST); you get either an email or paper ballot. Your vote can make a difference because, sadly, voter turnout is often soft. For info, go to alumni.cornell.edu.