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, 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

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

Thank you and best wishes!

Shelley Cosgrove DeFord

President [Notable] Class of ‘74

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

Happy New Year, Vegas, Book Club & Video

Happy New Year! I hope 2020 has started well for you.

As Cornell students are headed back to campus this weekend for the spring semester, I remember heading back to the Hill in the dead of winter. Ithaca winters can be quite severe but they can also be beautiful.













2019 was a busy and fun year for our class. We celebrated our 45th Reunion in June where we broke attendance and fundraising records. Thank you for engaging with our class and Cornell! This year let’s make our New Year’s resolution to keep and build on those Cornell connections.

We already have several class opportunities planned for 2020. A handful of classmates will be in Las Vegas for the annual Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference Feb. 20-23. If you are interested in joining us for meetings or social events in Vegas, please let me know and I will send details.

We’re working with Cornell’s English Department to roll out a class book group and reading project this spring. All Class of 1974 dues payers can receive the book and participate in a Cornell faculty-led on-line discussion. Be sure to pay your class dues now and stay connected to our class and Cornell. Not sure if you’ve paid? Email me at Pay online here. When you pay your dues, you’ll receive the award-winning Cornell Alumni Magazine. Check it out here.

As we look ahead at 2020 and beyond, take a minute to look back at 2019 at Cornell. (Click here to watch.)

Hope to see you in 2020!

Best wishes,

Fall News from Campus

Fall reports from Cornell tell of a campus ablaze both in color and spirit.

Our [notable] class organized and hosted a fun Homecoming tailgate for the Classes of the ‘70s.  Over 160 alums from our decade joined the party.  Many thanks to classmates Roberta and Lou Walcer, Dale Lazar and grill master Walt Scott for putting on a successful, annual event.  Hope to see you there next year.

In her recent annual State of the University address, Cornell President Pollack reminded us that Cornell University was founded not only as a legacy but as an investment.  Ezra Cornell was “seeking a very specific return – to do the greatest good with his fortune, and to do it for posterity.”  Read more here.

The University is studying how to enlarge its public policy footprint.  One option is to transform the College of Human Ecology into the College of Public Policy.  This would have far-reaching implications for many departments currently in the College. For more information, check out FAQs.  Also read about student reactions here.  Things are happening fast, so if you have some thoughts about this, send an email to Hum Ec Dean Rachel Dunifon at

Did you know that Cornell has a wine program through which you can buy wine made by Cornell alums?  Our classmate Joan Heller, Chem E ‘74 and her husband Steve Heller, MS CALS ’74, owners of H-L-R Cellars, are among the Big Red vintners featured this fall.  Learn more here.

There’s still time to suggest a book for our own Class Reading Project.  Suggestions so far include books by Vonnegut, Salinger, Pynchon and several grads from the 70’s and 80’s, including a few classmate authors.  We’re working with the Cornell English Department to identify faculty to lead our book discussion.  Send book ideas to classmate Kristen Rupert at

Be sure to pay your 2019-20 Class Dues in order to continue receiving benefits such as Cornell Alumni Magazine (this month’s issue has terrific articles about the Vet College’s Wildlife Health Center, a Cornell Ag and Nutrition Institute in India, and the Big Red Band) and the book project.  Not sure if you’ve paid?  Contact classmate Jodi Sielschott Stechschulte at  To pay your dues on-line, just click here.

Wherever you are this fall, I hope you are enjoying the season!

Class Legacy New Students; Book Ideas; Homecoming Tailgate

Fall semester classes at Cornell are well underway with three legacies of The Notable Class of 1974 starting as new students.  To welcome these students and others, classmates Mary Berens, John Foote and Kristen Rupert hosted their annual welcome picnic on move-in day.














L to R: Andy Chang ’74, Kaitlin Chang ’23 A&S, Mary Berens ’74, Renee Alexander ’74, Alison Dreizen ’74, Rosie Dreizen ’22 ILR, John Foote ’74, Kristen Rupert ’74.  Missing: Lisa Liff ’23 ENG and her mom Merlise Wan.  Lisa’s dad is Chuck Liff ’74, deceased. 

Please help us choose a book for our new Class of 1974 Book Project!  Although Cornell has ended its annual freshman reading project, we are going to do our own, based on the expressed interest of a number of our classmates.  Once we’ve identified a book, we will provide it to all class dues payers and then offer a follow-up discussion webinar moderated by a Cornell faculty member.  Wherever you are in the world, you can participate!

Do you have ideas for a book that might meet the following loose criteria?

  • set in our time at Cornell, or
  • set in Ithaca, or
  • written by a Cornell author (professor, alum, staff, parent) or
  • a book that you think our classmates would find interesting, stimulating, rewarding, fun.

Send your suggestions to Kristen Rupert at (Click here to see a partial list of former Cornell new student reading project books.)

Our class is partnering with other Classes of the 1970’s to present a Homecoming weekend tailgate barbecue in Ithaca Noon to 3pm on Saturday, October 5.  Football is at 3pm versus Georgetown.  Homecoming weekend is full of events for all ages including lectures, fireworks, a road race, arts tour and concert—see details at here.  Questions about the 70’s tailgate can be directed to classmate Roberta Bandel Walcer at  Register for the tailgate here.

If you’ve not yet paid your class dues for 2019-20, now is the time!  Pay by October 8 to ensure you don’t miss an issue of Cornell Alumni Magazine.  You can pay on-line here.  Not sure if you’ve paid?  Contact Jodi Sielschott Stechschulte at

Finally, this is my final email as President of the Class of 1974.  Serving as class president has been an honor and a joy, and I am delighted to pass the leadership torch to our new Class President Shelley Cosgrove DeFord.  Thanks to all of you for your support, ideas, volunteer participation and more.  You make our class Notable!