Sunday, 26 February 2017
May / June 2014
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Lucky Thirteen
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Give My Regards To...

These Cornellians in the News

The Intergroup Dialogue Project, a peer-facilitated course that raises awareness of social justice issues, winner of Cornell's Perkins Prize for Interracial Understanding and Harmony.

NBC News reporter Kate Snow '91, named an honorary member of Sphinx Head.

Lawyer Carl Weisbrod '65, appointed chair of the New York City Planning Commission.

ILR major Michelle Huang '14, winner of a Luce Scholarship.

The Statler Hotel, named the greenest in New York by the state's Hospitality and Tourism Association.

Civil and environmental engineering professor Jery Stedinger, elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Math professor Steve Strogatz, winner of the Public Engagement with Science Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Mason Peck, NASA's former chief technologist, awarded the agency's Distinguished Public Service Medal.

Computer science professor Jon Kleinberg '93, who received the $75,000 Harvey Prize from Israel's Technion for his contributions to the science of information networks.


More information on campus research is available at

For sports teams, momentum is illusory, says management postdoc Kevin Kniffin. He reports that if a varsity college hockey team wins the first of a two-game series, it doesn't affect the probability of winning the second.

Management professor Miguel Gómez finds that good customer service is the most important factor in promoting sales at wineries. He also notes that offering sensory descriptions of wine may frustrate novice tasters.

A study by human development professor Jane Mendle of 1,244 sets of identical twins and other siblings finds that living in a stressful, low-income household is a primary factor in whether an adolescent becomes sexually active at an early age.

In a project funded by the EPA, fiber scientists and designers are helping Haitians "upcycle" donated clothing, diverting it from landfills and employing local tailors to refashion it into professional attire.

Plant pathologist Michelle Cilia is working to combat a greening disease, spread by tiny insects, that threatens the nation's citrus industry. The California Citrus Research Board has provided some $450,000 toward the effort.

Ecology postdoc Arnaud Martin has identified the "supergene" that allows female swallowtail butterflies to avoid predation by evolving wings that mimic a poisonous relative.

For college students, having casual sex for the wrong reasons— such as intoxication, peer pressure, or an effort to boost self-esteem—can lead to negative effects including depression, anxiety, and poorer physical health. Zhana Vrangalova, PhD '13, surveyed 528 Cornell undergrads.

Harvard University Press has published a newly discovered memoir by Jazz Age actress, dancer, and writer Anita Reynolds. After finding the manuscript in the Howard University archives, English professor George Hutchinson edited and annotated the work, American Cocktail: A 'Colored Girl' in the World.

With Skorton headed to the Smithsonian, the search for Cornell's next president begins

president Skorton
Graduating: Commencement 2015 will be the last for President David Skorton.

The search is under way to find a successor to President David Skorton, who leaves the University at the end of June 2015 to lead the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Skorton will serve as secretary of the world’s largest museum and research complex, affectionately known as “America’s attic.” “This is an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for David to lead one of the world’s truly great institutions,” says Board of Trustees chairman Robert Harrison ’76. “In selecting David, the Smithsonian has acknowledged what we at Cornell already know—that David is that rare leader who can guide a great institution to even greater achievement. They could not have made a better choice.”

Trustees have formed a search committee for the University’s thirteenth president, pledging to make the process “exhaustive and inclusive.” The nineteen-member committee—comprising trustees, faculty, staff, and students—will be headed by Jan Rock Zubrow ’77, who chairs the board’s executive committee. Members include Harrison, trustee emeritus Sanford Weill ’55, Medical College dean Laurie Glimcher, vice president for alumni affairs and development Charlie Phlegar, and astronomy professor Joseph Burns, PhD ’66. Chairmen emeriti Peter Meinig ’61 and Harold Tanner ’52 will serve as advisers. “This is going to be a great search,” Zubrow says. “Cornell is in a wonderful position in terms of its reputation, academic stature, and financial position, and that bodes very well for this process.”

A cardiologist, Skorton came to Day Hall in July 2006 after three years as president of the University of Iowa. His decision to remain on the Hill through the next academic year will allow him to preside over the University’s sesquicentennial celebration. The end of Skorton’s tenure as president will also mean his wife’s departure from the Cornell faculty; physiologist Robin Davisson, who holds appointments at the Vet and Medical colleges, will also relocate to D.C.  “I am honored to be chosen to lead the Smithsonian Institution, one of our true national treasures,” Skorton says. “The mission of the Smithsonian—‘The Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge’—resonates deeply with me and mirrors the collective mission of the remarkably talented community of scholars, students, and staff with whom I have had the privilege to collaborate at Cornell these past eight years.”

For updates on the search process, or to suggest a candidate, go to


WVBR, Live From Buffalo St.

At the mike: A reunion show at the new WVBR

Just before St. Patrick’s Day, WVBR moved out of the  “Cow Palace” near East Hill Plaza—its home for fourteen years—and back to Collegetown. The station now broadcasts out of its new digs, Olbermann-Corneliess Studios at 604 East Buffalo Street. The facility, which features two production studios and a live performance space,  was made possible by donations from alumni and students; they include a large gift from Keith Olbermann ’79, who named the studios in memory of his father, Theodore, and his close friend Glenn Corneliess ’78, a former WVBR program director. “It has the amenities of any major corporate radio station,” outgoing general manager Drew Endick ’14 said on the station’s website. “But it has the appeal, space, and ability to innovate that any college radio station has.”


Peñalver Named Law Dean

Eduardo Peñalver
Eduardo Peñalver '94

An expert in property law and land use currently at the University of Chicago has been named dean of the Law School. Eduardo Peñalver ’94, a Cornell faculty member from 2006 to 2012, will take office on July 1—becoming the first Latino dean of an Ivy League law school. He succeeds Stewart Schwab, dean for the past ten years, who will return to teaching after a sabbatical. Says Provost Kent Fuchs: “Eduardo’s extraordinary academic pedigree, deep love for Cornell, personal warmth, and engaging vision make him ideally suited to build upon the excellent work of Dean Schwab and to further advance the pre-eminence of the Law School.” A graduate of Yale Law School, Peñalver studied at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.


'Office' Actor Ed HelmsTapped for Convocation Talk

Ed Helms
Ed Helms

One of the University’s most loyal alumni—or rather the actor who played him on TV—will give the Convocation speech in May. Fictional alum Andy Bernard ’93, whom Ed Helms portrayed on the hit sitcom “The Office,” was Big Red to the bone—constantly dropping the name of his alma mater, sporting Cornell swag, and forever touting the talents of his campus a capella group, Here Comes Treble. In the show’s final episode, he revealed that he’d landed his “dream job” in the Cornell admissions office. “He’s entertaining and he’s a comedian—something that the Class of 2014 was looking for,” says Jennifer Lee ’14, chair of the students’ Senior Convocation Committee.

Why did the show have such a comically—some would say obnoxiously—loyal Cornellian? Although CAM supplied its production offices with copies of the magazine (featured prominently in one episode), our queries on the subject never yielded a straight answer—beyond the fact that a number of the show’s writers attended certain other Ivies, located far east of Ithaca.


Cost of Degree Nears $250K

The cost of attending Cornell will top $60,000 next year, according to rates approved by the Board of Trustees. Tuition for students in the endowed colleges (and out-of-staters in the statutory schools) will rise 4.25 percent for 2014-15, to $47,050. Adding in typical costs for room, board, and mandatory fees brings the total to $60,728, up from $58,808 this year. Tuition for New York residents in the contract colleges will rise to $30,910, for a total cost of $44,558.


Streeter to Be Finance VP

Paul Streeter
Paul Streeter, MBA '95

Paul Streeter, MBA ’95, previously the Vet college’s assistant dean for finance and administration, has been named the University’s vice president for budget and planning. At Cornell for nearly three decades, he succeeds Elmira Mangum, who assumed the presidency of Florida A&M University. In his new role, he is the senior administrator responsible for managing the University’s annual budgeting process, among other duties. He’ll also serve as a liaison to the Board of Trustees and to Medical College leaders on budgetary issues. “The heart of Cornell is at the unit level,” Streeter notes. “So understanding those needs, helping serve the units, and meeting those needs while still dealing within the university framework is the key. It’s all about working with people—fostering good relationships and building trust.”


Rhodes Winner Reis '56 Dies

Curtis Reis
Curtis Reis '56

Longtime Cornell benefactor and ardent alumnus Curtis Reis ’56 passed away in February from complications of heart failure. He was seventy-nine. Reis, who spent his career in banking, was chairman and CEO of Alliance Bank at his retirement five years ago. A member of a multigenerational Cornell family whose philanthropy included endowing the Reis Tennis Center, he was the son of L. Sanford Reis and Josephine Mills Reis, both members of the Class of 1929. President of the Class of ‘56 for more than twenty years, Reis was a cofounder of Cornell’s Adult University as well as a University Councilor and a Lifetime Trustee Emeritus. In 2000, his volunteer work was recognized with the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award. Survivors include his wife of thirty-five years, Pamela Petre Reis, three children, and six grandchildren.


Two More Frats Suspended

In March, two fraternities—Chi Psi and Theta Delta Chi—were put on interim suspension due to “credible allegations of serious hazing.” The status means that the chapters can’t engage in any activities other than operating their residences. It is invoked, the University says, “when a credible report is made indicating the actions of a chapter pose an immediate or imminent threat to students’ health, or that members’ actions are so egregious that the University is compelled to cease activities of the organization for the safety of the members, those joining, or guests.”



Cosmic kitty: "Zeus" took top honors in the Vet College's Feline Follies cat show.

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