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Presidential Pay

Presidential Pay; CU Declares Hiring 'Pause'; Astrophysicist Edwin Salpeter, 83; Debt Relief for Parents; MBA Ranking Rises; Campus Remembers Evan Wade '08; Mozart Goes Retro; Making Cascadilla Gorgeous; Birdwatch for Science; 'Hot Truck Bob,' 77; Cornellians Elected to U.S. House; Memorial Prize and Fund Honor Deceased Alumnus According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, President […]


Presidential Pay; CU Declares Hiring 'Pause'; Astrophysicist Edwin Salpeter, 83; Debt Relief for Parents; MBA Ranking Rises; Campus Remembers Evan Wade '08; Mozart Goes Retro; Making Cascadilla Gorgeous; Birdwatch for Science; 'Hot Truck Bob,' 77; Cornellians Elected to U.S. House; Memorial Prize and Fund Honor Deceased Alumnus

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, President David Skorton's total compensation for the academic year 2006-07 was $730,604—salary of $516,223 and benefits of $214,381. Aside from Harvard Interim President Derek Bok, who was paid nothing, this was the second-lowest compensation total in the Ivy League. Only Dartmouth President James Wright, who received $569,761, was paid less. Top pay went to Columbia's Lee Bollinger, who got $1,411,894, followed by Penn's Amy Gutmann at $1,088,786.

Skorton's compensation total for the 2007-08 academic year is not yet available, but according to the Daily Sun he has informed the Board of Trustees that, given the economic situation, he does not want an increase for the coming year. Chairman Peter Meinig '61 termed this "very, very admirable." Skorton's decision to forgo a raise is in line with the actions of other university presidents around the country, many of whom have refused salary increases, waived bonuses, or made similar sacrifices. At Stanford, both the president and provost have taken 10 percent pay cuts.

Big Red Marching Band 

March on: Drum major Tom Seery '09 leads the Big Red Marching Band through midtown Manhattan in November during the Sy Katz '31 Parade, whose grand marshals included New York Governor David Paterson.

CU Declares Hiring 'Pause'

Due to the current economic recession, Cornell will not hire any non-professorial staff from outside the University until after March 31, President Skorton announced in late October. Skorton said the purpose of the pause—he stopped short of calling it a "freeze"—is to reduce costs without drastic cuts or widespread layoffs. The University will also halt all construction projects that haven't broken ground, effectively freezing them in whatever stage of planning they have reached. "Cornell University will remain focused on the need to attract and retain the best and brightest students, faculty, and staff," Skorton said. This fall, the University hosted forums on its finances and posted an online suggestion box for cost-cutting ideas.

In his end-of-the-year message in mid-December, Skorton said that the University faces 10 percent cuts in its operating budget over the next few years, and that layoffs will continue. "While I do not anticipate any across-the-board cuts, the fact remains that this is a very serious situation and any reasonable solution will affect real programs, real jobs, and real people," Skorton said.

Astrophysicist Edwin Salpeter, 83

Edwin SalpeterProfessor emeritus of physical sciences Edwin Salpeter, a leading astrophysicist who spent his entire career at Cornell— from his arrival as a post-doc under Nobel laureate Hans Bethe in 1949 to his retirement in 1997—died of leukemia in November. Salpeter's achievements included devising the Salpeter process, which describes how helium nuclei fuse to form carbon in ancient stars; he was also co-author of the Salpeter-Bethe equation, which describes bound states of a pair of interacting particles in quantum field theory. He won several prominent awards, including a gold medal from the British Astronomical Society and the $500,000 Crafoord Prize (shared with another astronomer) from the Royal Swedish Academy.

"Ed's contributions to astrophysics revolutionized whole subfields," says physics chairman Saul Teukolsky. "And yet no matter how eminent he became, Ed retained his humility and sense of fun." The Austrian-born Salpeter was known for his ability to cut quickly to the heart of an issue, often making logical connections others had missed. "Colleagues visiting Cornell always wanted to talk to him," says Teukolsky, "not just because he was a great scientist, but because it was truly a delight to spend time with him." He is survived by his wife, Lhamo, daughters Judy '74 and Shelley '75, and four grandchildren. His first wife, neurobiology and behavior professor Miriam Salpeter, PhD '53, died in 2000.

Debt Relief for Parents

Though it had been less than a year since Cornell's most recent changes to its financial aid program, the University announced a new initiative in November that would allow even more students to graduate debt-free. The plan eliminates parental contributions for families with income of less than $60,000 a year and assets below $100,000. It also reduces contributions for families above the $60,000 mark and caps need-based loans (at $7,500 annually) to students whose parents make more than $120,000 a year but have financial need. "Particularly at this unsettling time, Cornell University must open its doors even wider," said President Skorton.

The plan will go forward despite the current financial challenges, Skorton said in his end-of-the-year message. The administration will seek an increase in endowment withdrawal, up to an additional 1 percent, to fund the aid package. In fall 2007, about 14 percent of Cornell undergraduates received federal Pell grants, typically awarded to students with family incomes below $45,000.

MBA Ranking Rises

The Johnson Graduate School of Management offers the eleventh-best MBA in the country, according to Business Week's most recent rankings, released in November. The magazine publishes its list of top graduate business schools every other year; the University improved two spots over its 2006 rank. Cornell has placed consistently in the top twenty since the magazine started ranking business schools in 1988. The Johnson School ranked thirteenth on Business Week's most recent list of executive MBA programs; the University's undergraduate business program came in fourth.

Campus Remembers Evan Wade '08

In one of his application essays, Evan Wade '08 wrote, "The most important thing a person can cultivate in himself or herself is humility." At his memorial service in Anabel Taylor Hall Chapel in November, friends and family praised him for cultivating this trait in himself, even when he had so much to be proud of. Wade—a senior who died in a one-vehicle crash on a country road outside Ithaca in October—was a talented tenor saxophonist, a Naval ROTC cadet, an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and a proficient speaker of Finnish. (Wade had delayed his graduation to spend a year in Finland.) "Two things struck me about Evan in the time that I knew him," mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Elizabeth Fisher said at the service. "His positive attitude and his wide range of interests."

Mozart Goes Retro

MozartWhile Mozart is among the most popular classical composers, contemporary performances of his work rarely sound the way they would have in the eighteenth century. But in November, musicology and literature student Dorian Bandy '10 produced a performance in Risley Hall that was an exception to that rule. After doing more than three years of research, Bandy—inspired, in part, by seeing a European version of Don Giovanni set on a spaceship—assembled an international orchestra, cast, and crew for a production of the opera as it would have been staged in Mozart's time. The music was played on period instruments, and the actors dressed and acted in the style of the time. (The performers included about a dozen Cornell students.) The only thing that wasn't historically accurate was the lighting: since candles are against fire code in Risley, Bandy used electric substitutes.

Making Cascadilla Gorgeous

Cascadilla Creek GorgeParking meters, Mardi Gras beads, and moldy underwear were just a few of the items pulled out of Cascadilla Creek Gorge by climbers from Cornell Outdoor Education in November. The area behind the Chi Phi and Lambda Chi Alpha houses has long accumulated the refuse of the houses' inhabitants. And while the fraternities have attempted to clean the gorge in the past, the efforts were risky and their targets often unreachable. The COE volunteers, who rappelled down the gorge wall on harnesses and ropes, retrieved three dumpsters' worth of trash.

Birdwatch for Science

For the past twelve years, the Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society have sponsored the Great Backyard Bird Count, a "citizen science" project that gets tens of thousands of laypeople to become ornithologists for a few days. From February 13 to 16, participants throughout North America will break out the binoculars and report their sightings on the event's website (www.bird Over the years, the project has helped scientists achieve a scale and geographic range to their research that would not have otherwise been possible; more than 85,000 checklists were submitted in 2008. According to lab director John Fitzpatrick, the count "has documented the fine-grained details of late-winter bird distributions better than any project in history."

'Hot Truck Bob,' 77

Robert Petrillose Sr., founder of Cornell's beloved Hot Truck, died December 8 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Petrillose grew up in the restaurant business as the son of the owner of Johnny's Big Red Grill in Collegetown. He started the Hot Truck in 1960—according to legend, inventing the concept of French bread pizza. His signature sandwiches spawned their own nomenclature, from the PMP (Poor Man's Pizza) to the MBC (meatball and cheese) to the infamous Suicide, or Sui—garlic bread with sauce, cheese, mushrooms, sausage, and pepperoni. At one point, the truck even had its own mini-dictionary.

After four decades of late-night pizza-making, Petrillose— affectionately known as "Hot Truck Bob"—retired in 2000 and sold the business to the owner of Ithaca's Shortstop Deli; while the truck still does a brisk business at the base of Libe Slope, its menu items are also available at the Shortstop's downtown location. Petrillose is survived by his wife of fifty-seven years, Sharon Follett Petrillose '52, three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Cornellians Elected to U.S. House

Five alumni ran successful campaigns for Congress in November. Four of them were incumbents: Illinois Republican Mark Kirk '81, a member of the House Appropriations Committee; New Jersey Democrat Rob Andrews, JD '82, who was a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention; Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, MRP '97, her state's first Jewish congresswoman; and California Democrat Bob Filner '63, PhD '73, whose district includes his state's entire border with Mexico. In Oregon, Democrat Kurt Schrader '73 defeated his Republican opponent for an open seat. Closer to Ithaca, Republican Michael Nozzolio '73, MPA '77, was reelected to the New York State Senate, carrying 71.5 percent of the vote in his district, which includes Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.

Memorial Prize and Fund Honor Deceased Alumnus

Eric Ehrenberg '92Eric Ehrenberg '92 was a government and philosophy major in the Arts college and captain of the men's volleyball team when he developed a malignant brain tumor during the 1990-91 academic year. After a year in which he underwent three brain surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments, he returned to Cornell. He had vision in only half of one eye, wore hearing aids in both ears, and was on complete hormone replacement therapy.

Eric—the elder son of Ronald Ehrenberg, the Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics—graduated from Cornell magna cum laude in 1993 and earned a law degree from Georgetown. He went to work in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, was married, and became father of a daughter, Talia. He survived another brain tumor in 2004. But on August 11, 2008, he died at the age of thirty-seven due to radiation necrosis stemming from his treatments seventeen years earlier.

In a 2004 "last lecture," Professor Ehrenberg recalled the late Robert Stern, an ILR colleague who had overcome severe disabilities to have a successful academic career: "Bob visited my son when he was first in the hospital and conveyed a very simple message to him. 'Don't compare yourself to what you were (because this will not bring you happiness). Don't compare yourself to the people around you (because again this will not make you happy). Rather simply ask what you can do to make yourself and the people you care about feel as fulfilled and happy as possible.' " Eric understood Stern's message and, his father says, remained happy and optimistic throughout his life.

To honor Eric, his family and other donors have endowed the Eric Lawrence Ehrenberg Memorial Prize, which will be awarded each year to a graduating ILR senior who has overcome serious health problems. In addition, they have established the Eric Lawrence Ehrenberg Memorial Fund in Cornell's Office of Student Disability Services, which will support the Cornell Union for Disability Awareness. Contributions may be sent to Darrie O'Connell, ILR-Cornell, 385 Ives Hall East, Ithaca, NY 14853.