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From the Hill

News and updates from campus


Access issues: In November, members of the University administration, including President David Skorton (on crutches), participated in a simulation in which they negotiated campus buildings while their mobility was impaired.

Endowment Up in Fiscal 2013

In October, chief investment officer A. J. Edwards announced that the value of Cornell’s long-term investments (LTI)—which includes the endowment and two smaller funds—had increased by 11.4 percent in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2013. The value of the LTI at that point was $5.7 billion, up from $5.2 billion at the end of the previous fiscal year. At Cornell, the payout from the LTI supports about 10 percent of the operating budget.

Cornell’s performance was better than that of many of its peer institutions, including Harvard (up 6.5 percent), Yale (up 7.8 percent), and Stanford (up 9.7 percent). Nationwide, college and university investment returns were up overall after several years of erratic performance initiated by the Great Recession. “The LTI is positioned both to weather the continued uncertain economic outlook and to benefit from opportunities that may arise from time to time,” said Edwards. “We remain focused on maintaining a generally healthy liquidity position within the LTI, allowing it to comfortably meet the projected needs of the University, while at the same time taking advantage of our long-term investment horizon.”

DKE Banned for Alcohol

In the wake of an incident of underage and binge drinking at the beginning of the semester, the University has revoked recognition of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity for at least three years. In addition to allowing an underage student to drink to the point of needing transport to the hospital, assistant vice president for university communications Tracy Vosburgh said in November, “the chapter failed to contact any resource to summon medical assistance and attempted to impede the police in their effort to help.” The fraternity, which has had a history of alcohol-related incidents over the past several years, was placed on provisional status in November 2012. The chapter house closed at the end of fall semester, requiring residents to find other housing.

Library of Congress Gets Carl Sagan Papers


Star power: Sagan teaching in 1977. Photo: U Photo

Thanks to a gift from a Hollywood humorist, the papers of the late astronomer Carl Sagan and his wife, Ann Druyan, have been donated to the Library of Congress. The collection—which fills 1,705 boxes—was dedicated at a ceremony in November. “Like millions of other science lovers, I was heavily influenced by Carl Sagan growing up,” said “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, who donated the funds that enabled the purchase of the collection. “He was the only way we got our science information in a digestible form.” The collection includes journal article drafts, to-do lists, scientific notations, letters to promising astronomers, and more. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and longtime Cornell professor died of a blood cancer in 1996 at age sixty-two. This spring, MacFarlane will produce an updated version of Sagan’s popular TV show, “Cosmos.”

Horse Hospital to Open Near Belmont Racetrack

The Vet college will open an equine hospital on Long Island in April. Dubbed Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists, the 22,000-square-foot facility is within walking distance of the Belmont Park Thoroughbred racetrack. Staffed by Cornell vets and technicians, it will provide surgical, imaging, diagnostic, and rehabilitation services. Says Dean Michael Kotlikoff: “Our goals are to improve the health and safety of the equine athlete and by so doing to strengthen one of the world’s premier racing programs.” The hospital is named in honor of a champion horse who raced in the Seventies.

CU Mourns Longtime Faculty

Cushing Strout

Cushing Strout. Photo provided.

Cornell lost two distinguished professors—who joined the faculty a year apart in the mid-Sixties—when Cushing Strout and Michael Kammen passed away in November. Strout, ninety, a professor emeritus of English, had served on the faculty since 1964. Colleague Daniel Schwarz remembered him as “a brilliant, innovative, and important scholar in American literature and American studies” and “a paradigm of personal and intellectual integrity.” He held the Ernest I. White Chair of American Studies and Humane Letters for a decade and a half before his retirement in 1989. He is survived by his wife, Jean Philbrick Strout, MA ’70. Kammen, seventy-seven, was the Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture Emeritus. He came to Cornell in 1965 and remained until his retirement in 2008, though he returned to teach last fall. His book People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize in history. He is survived by his wife, Cornell historian Carol Kammen.

Michael Kammen

Michael Kammen. Photo provided.

History lessons: Inspired by this year’s New Student Reading Project selection—Julia Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine, which deals with life in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II—the Johnson Museum is hosting an exhibit of work by Roger Shimomura. His brightly colored paintings, influenced by Japanese ukiyo-e prints and Pop Art, are drawn from his family’s experiences at Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. The show runs through late December.


Famed Sports Agent Art Kaminsky ’68 Dies

Art Kaminsky

Art Kaminsky ’68. Photo provided.

On December 5, the well-known attorney and agent Art Kaminsky ’68 died at his home on Long Island from cancer. He was sixty-six. Kaminsky majored in government at Cornell, graduating with honors before moving on to Yale Law School. A casual hockey fan before coming to the Hill, he became an enthusiast while watching the teams coached by Ned Harkness and began a lifelong involvement with the sport. He wrote about hockey for several publications and then began to represent professional players, beginning with famed goalie Ken Dryden ’69. At one point, his company had signed up more than 40 percent of the players in the NHL. He also represented the winners of nine of the thirteen U.S. medals awarded at the 1980 Winter Olympics, including the “Miracle on Ice” hockey team. Kaminsky later expanded his company, Athletes and Artists Inc., to include major figures in entertainment and broadcasting. After selling the business he returned to journalism, writing a series of articles for CAM. Dryden posted a remembrance at, praising his friend and former agent as a man who “took on life with a jock’s intensity and competitiveness, wanting to know everything about everything.”


Men’s Lacrosse Coach Fired

In November, athletic director Andy Noel announced that men’s lacrosse coach Ben DeLuca ’98 had been dismissed. “This was a difficult decision,” said Noel, “but our students are our first priority and there is no doubt that new leadership is required.” No explicit reason was given and Noel refused further comment. The announcement came two months after the team’s fall-semester competitions had been canceled in response to reported hazing, including an incident where freshmen were forced to drink large amounts of beer in a “keg race.”

There was widespread reaction from the Cornell lacrosse community, with many former and current players lamenting the removal of DeLuca, who had been an outstanding player and team captain for Cornell before serving as an assistant coach and then being named head coach in 2010. He had a 37-11 record in the top position. An open letter published in the Daily Sun expressed “frustration and disappointment” at the dismissal and thanked DeLuca for his service to Cornell. It was signed by more than 170 people, including former head coaches Jeff Tambroni and Dave Pietramala. Assistant coach Matt Kerwick was named interim head coach while a national search is conducted.


NYC Extension Director Dies

Donald Tobias, the longtime executive director of the New York City office of Cornell Cooperative Extension, died in late November. Tobias, sixty-eight, reportedly committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway train. A former professor of policy analysis and management, Tobias led the office since 2005, expanding its programs into all five boroughs. “In the city that never sleeps, Don worked nonstop in his role—as a mentor, visionary, teacher, researcher, cheerleader, and partner,” Human Ecology Dean Alan Mathios said in a tribute. “He transformed the work of so many who knew him and guided programs that touched thousands of New Yorkers.” Tobias is survived by his wife, Brenda Platek Tobias ’97, Cornell’s former director of communications for New York City.