JAN./FEB. 2005 VOLUME 107 NUMBER 4 Letter from Ithaca

New Leaf


IN THE SUMMER OF 1996, SHORTLY AFTER I JOINED THIS magazine as an associate editor, two assistant editors left to try their luck in the Manhattan publishing world.When we cast about for a single new hire who could replace both of them, one name rose to the top of the list: Sharon Tregaskis '95. This fall, after nearly a decade on the magazine's staff, Sharon decided to move on to a career as a freelance writer. Considering her talent, CAM was lucky to have kept her this long.

Although Sharon will continue to write for the magazine, her day-to-day presence will be missed: cheerful, smart, funny, and unafraid to challenge. "Sharon brought a lot to the office every workday," says editor and publisher Jim Roberts '71, "ideas, energy, organizational skills, institutional knowledge, and a healthy dose of skepticism." She was also the magazine's "queen of green," not only spearheading coverage of environmental issues but living by those principles every day. Although it's been nearly two years since we worked in the same office--I've been a freelancer since I moved to Manhattan to get married--I can still picture her methodically ripping pages out of old spiral-bound reporters' notebooks for recycling. She was also known to remove the sticky parts of Post-It notes, lest the adhesive gum up the paper shredder. I'm not kidding.

Sharon first came to the magazine in January 1994, when she did a one-week externship as a junior in the College of Human Ecology. Then-editors Steve Madden '86 and Paul Cody, MFA '87, assigned her a week's worth of work--which she finished in two days. So they gave her a pile of past issues and some unedited manuscripts, and asked her to critique them."Most interns are pretty timid," says Madden. "Maybe it's because they don't want to offend, or because they know they don't know much about the topic at hand. While Sharon had a lot more on the ball than most of the kids I saw, she wasn't yet the wonderful editor she would become. But that didn't stop her from basically eviscerating everything she read."

Admiring her chutzpah,Madden hired her for the summer. She stayed on as a freelancer during her senior year, then as a part-time name-checker for Class Notes, under the tutelage of the late, great Elsie McMillan '55. Sharon was working in the campus human resources office when we recruited her fulltime. Except for a stint as an admissions officer in Human Ecology, she spent most of the next decade at the magazine--blossoming into a terrific reporter, writer, editor, and colleague. "Sharon was that rare staffer with skills across the board--in editorial, finance, project management," recalls David Gibson, who was the editor and publisher from 1996 to 2000. "And she knew how to get things done. If I remember right, it was Sharon who suggested we add a line item to the budget--for chocolate. She knew we couldn't run a magazine without it."

Although Sharon wasn't too far past her twenty-fifth birthday when David left to join the editorial staff of Yankee Magazine, he tapped Sharon to keep things running smoothly until Jim took over. And three years ago, when Weill Cornell Medical College hired CAM to publish its magazine, Sharon helped to forge the agreement and became the chief editor of Weill Cornell Medicine.

Sharon knows Cornell inside and out. She has seen the University from many sides--as a student, an employee, an Ithaca resident, an alumna, and a journalist covering the Hill with this magazine's trademark "sympathetic objectivity." "Most important, I think, was her critical eye," says Gibson. "Nothing got a free pass from Sharon, which ultimately served Cornell." He goes on to give her the boss's ultimate compliment: "I was lucky to have hired Sharon--twice," he says. "I'd hire her again."

So would I.

--Beth Saulnier

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