Perseverance: Never Giving Up, and Always Giving Back

A year ago COVID caused Cornell to go to all virtual learning.  Students finished that Spring semester virtually.  In the Fall we were the only Ivy to offer some in-person learning and we welcomed our students back to campus in February to finish this school year.  Read some Freshman stories of how our students have navigated their unique first-year experiences.  That’s perseverance!

As Cornell alums, we haven’t been able to visit the campus, go to a reunion or Homecoming, attend a class event or watch a Cornell athletic contest, but we have persevered through the magic of Zoom with a virtual Reunion, Global Mixers , and the recent virtual Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference.  You can watch conference highlights here.  The Cornell Statler Hotel’s chef cooking demo is highly recommended.

And then there is the ultimate in celebration of that never-give-up spirit with the “Touchdown Confirmed” message of the 2020 Perseverance rover landing on Mars.  Listen here to NASA aerospace engineer Swati Mohan ’04 calmly calling the play-by-play landing.

We didn’t give in, we didn’t give up but we can give back as we and Cornell have persevered through a year like never before.  Next Thursday, March 11, is Cornell Giving Day.  Save the date and watch the video here.  And on March 11 you can make a donation here.

This has been a year that has truly tested our ability to persevere but we are seeing the green shoots of never giving up.  Just like we eventually see the melt of the winter snow on campus.






Here’s to a hopeful Spring!  Please be well!

Class Scholar Wendi Gonzalez ’21–Her Cornell Journey

Even as it seems that the world has stood still, our Class Scholar Wendi Gonzalez is in her final year in the College of Art, Architecture & Planning.  We first met Wendi in September of 2016 as a newly minted Cornell Freshman from High Point, North Carolina.
Through her photos and letters to us we’ve gotten to watch her Cornell journey.  After her first semester she wrote to us about her new friends, new foods she’d eaten, terrifying Slope sledding and sleeping through two early classes–the quintessential Freshman experience.  After her third semester she shared that her hardest professor probably got the best work out of her.  She joined NOMAS (National Organization of Minority Architecture Students) and helped them fund raise to get Cornell students to a competition in Chicago, where last year they won second place.  Read about that here.  Spring ’19 with the Cornell in Rome program brought places to life that Wendi had only ever read about and she was able to share that with us in person at our 45th Reunion.

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Despite COVID, she spent this past summer in Reno, Nevada interning at one of Tesla’s operation centers.  Her work included helping to design manufacturing facilities for Tesla.

Wendi recently caught up with classmates Kristen Rupert and John Foote. They shared her thoughtful message to our class and her photos.  You can read her message here.
Ever gracious, Wendi has let us see her life and work at Cornell and always conveys gratitude to our class.  As our Class of ’74 Scholar she makes us incredibly proud.  This scholarship, started over 30 years ago by our classmates Bob and Joan Saltsman Oelschlager, is supported by members of our class.  If you’d like to help support it, click here and designate “Class of 1974 Scholarship.”
Enjoy Wendi’s story and successes!

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

Our New Christopher Reeve Scholar

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

Class of ’74 Supports Cornellians–Meet Our Scholars

Class of 1974 Scholarships

The Class of 1974 Scholarship was established in 1999 as part of our 25th Reunion campaign by classmates Joan and Bob Oel- schlager. Students selected by Cornell receive this scholarship, each year during their course of study.

Class of ’74 Scholars are:

• Musfeq Khan ’03, Arts & Sciences, Bangladesh

• Katherine Arcos ’04, Arts & Sciences, Long Beach, NY
• Anthony (Tony) Bandanza ’08, Arts & Sciences, New Hampshire
• Sabina Sattler ’12, CALS, Connecticut
• Garrett Guillen ’16, ILR, California
• Wendolin Gonzalez ’21, Architecture, North Carolina

Our current Class of ’74 Scholar, Wendolin Gonzalez, is a rising third-year architecture student, who has just returned from the Cornell in Rome program. She grew up in High Point, North Carolina, and will be working with a Boston architecture firm this summer. Wendi sent us a letter about her experiences in the Cornell in Rome program.

“My experience in Rome has been incredible. I still have yet to get over the shock of living ten minutes from the Pantheon. Everywhere I go there’s a monument that I had seen hundreds of times in books growing up. I used to flip through magazines and sketch from pictures, but now I can actually go see these in person.

It feels as though I just arrived yesterday and in the blink of an eye the semester is coming to an end. The field trips around Italy and to Berlin have been great and I’ve been able to see not just Rome but much of Italy. Thankfully, classes aren’t as rigorous so I can spend afternoons soaking up the culture.”

Christopher Reeve Scholarship

This scholarship is given to a student in the Theatre Arts program, in memory of Christopher Reeve ‘74. Both the Class of 1974 Scholarship, along with the Christopher Reeve Scholarship, continue to be funded by many classmates as part of annual giving commitments. Recipients receive support each year. Past scholarship winners have been:

• Christine Bullen ’08, Arts & Sciences, Colorado
• Katherine Karaus ’10, Arts & Sciences, Virginia
• Bridget Saracino ’11, Arts & Sciences, Rochester NY

• Nate Mattingly ’14, Arts & Sciences, Cortland, NY

The current Chris Reeve ’74 scholar is William Opoku Nnuro Jr, a freshman planning a double major in theatre and biology. He writes:

“From a young age, my parents & grandparents instilled the love of reading and knowledge in my brothers and I and they pushed us to be the top of our class at all times. I owe it to them that I was accepted into such a prestigious university and I hope to pay it forward for my kids one day.

My experiences living in Texas and then moving to a completely different environment in Ghana have also shaped me into the person I am today. The struggles I have witnessed motivate me to effect positive change wherever I go, through my actions and through my creative endeavors. Lastly I would just like to say a huge thank you to the class of ’74 for the Christopher Reeve scholarship which helped make it possible for me to attend Cornell University! I am excited to be given the opportunity to meet you all and hear your stories!”

Class of ’74 Scholar Wendi Gonzalez sends note from Rome

My experience in Rome has been incredible. I still have yet to get over the shock of living ten minutes from the Pantheon. Everywhere I go there’s a monument that I had seen hundreds of times in books growing up. I used to flip through magazines and sketch from pictures, but now I can actually go see these in person. 

It feels as though I just arrived yesterday and in the blink of an eye the semester is coming to an end. The field trips around Italy and to Berlin have been great and I’ve been able to see not just Rome but much of Italy.  Thankfully, classes aren’t as rigorous so I can spend afternoons soaking up the culture.  If you ever have a chance, I would highly recommend spending a few days in this amazing city.

Class of ’74 Gives Big on Giving Day

Here are some fun facts about the Class of  1974 and our very successful Giving Day:

  • 149 classmates made a gift.
  • The average gift was just under $200, with many under $100.
  • We raised more than $6000 for our Class of 1974 Scholarship.
  •  Every undergraduate college received at least one gift from a classmate.
  •  5 different athletic teams were recipients of ’74 gifts.
  •  Cornell programs that benefit from our gifts range from the Big Red Band to    Wildlife Health to Cornell Cinema to Men’s Ice Hockey to Jewish Studies.
  • Our Class raised more money than any class except the Class of 1991.  (Wonder    what their secret weapon was?!?)

Hope to see you in Ithaca at our 45th Reunion in June.

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


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.