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Reunion Weekend Includes First 80th Class Gathering

$25 Million Suit in SAE Death; CU Vies for NYC Tech Campus; Two Die in Gorge Accidents; University-Wide Economics Department Created; CU Loses Arecibo Management; Professor Walter Lynn Dies; Charles Walcott Named University Ombudsman; Atlantic Philanthropies Gifts to Cornell Top $600 Million; Jim Hazzard '50, Former Alumni Affairs Director, Dies; Memorial Honors Fred Kahn Reunion […]


$25 Million Suit in SAE Death; CU Vies for NYC Tech Campus; Two Die in Gorge Accidents; University-Wide Economics Department Created; CU Loses Arecibo Management; Professor Walter Lynn Dies; Charles Walcott Named University Ombudsman; Atlantic Philanthropies Gifts to Cornell Top $600 Million; Jim Hazzard '50, Former Alumni Affairs Director, Dies; Memorial Honors Fred Kahn

Reunion 2011 marked two firsts: Cornell's inaugural 80th class reunion and the first "Reunion Zero" for the Class of 2011. Attendees for the Class of '31—which has more than two dozen living members—were Rosemary Hunt Todd and her former roommate, Ruth Laible Tallmadge, who were honored throughout the weekend. Also much remembered, and sorely missed, was the late Bill Vanneman '31, who spearheaded plans for the reunion but passed away in April.

In his State of the University address, President David Skorton described the four components of his vision for Cornell: continuing to enable students from all backgrounds to afford a Cornell education; globalization through Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar and other programs; public engagement such as work in sustainability and community service; and faculty renewal. "Sons and daughters of Cornell," Skorton said, "our university is not finished."

All together now: Scenes from Reunion 2011 included (from top to bottom) kids climbing the A. D. White statue on the Arts Quad, aerial fun in Barton Hall courtesy of Cornell Outdoor Education, an appearance by 80th Reunion celebrant Rosemary Hunt Todd '31, a scooter commute around campus, and serenading by a cappella groups in Goldwin Smith.


$25 Million Suit in SAE Death

The mother of a sophomore who died in an alleged hazing incident at Sigma Alpha Epsilon has filed a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit. Nineteen-year-old Brooklyn resident George Desdunes '13 died in February after allegedly participating in a mock kidnapping ritual in which pledges "abducted" him and another brother, bound them, and required them to drink alcohol if they gave wrong answers to fraternity trivia. According to criminal court documents filed when four SAE members were charged with misdemeanor hazing, Desdunes had a blood alcohol content of .35 when he was taken to the hospital after a custodian found him unresponsive on a fraternity house couch. The civil suit (which claims that Des-dunes had an even higher blood alcohol level of .409) seeks damages from the national fraternity, its Cornell chapter, and more than a dozen of its members. "I want hazing and alcohol to stop, and I want those kids to take responsibility for their actions, because I don't want other parents to go through what I'm going through right now," Desdunes's mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, told Matt Lauer during an appearance on the "Today" show after filing the suit in June. The students charged in Desdunes's death have left Cornell, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been banned from campus for at least five years.


CU Vies for NYC Tech Campus

Cornell is among the universities competing to create a high-tech applied science and engineering campus in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a call for proposals in mid-July, drawing interest from dozens of institutions as far away as Korea. The winning proposal will garner city land in Brooklyn, on Governors Island, or on Roosevelt Island, and up to $100 million in infrastructure subsidies. Proposals are due this fall with a winner announced in December and construction beginning in 2015.


Two Die in Gorge Accidents

Two students died in separate accidents in Fall Creek Gorge in July. Stanislaw Jaworski, a twenty-six-year-old visiting graduate student in chemistry from the University of Gdansk, Poland, reportedly fell while walking off-trail along the gorge east of the Hydroelectric Plant. Later that same day, Nathaniel Rand '12, a New York City resident majoring in human development in the College of Human Ecology, drowned while swimming in a prohibited area near Ithaca Falls. Theirs were the second and third gorge deaths of the summer; Kendrick Castro '11 drowned the day after graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences on Memorial Day weekend.


University-Wide Economics Department Created

After six years of discussion, the University has created a campus-wide Department of Economics, combining the economics faculty from the Arts college and labor economists from ILR. Additionally, a small number of senior professors from the Johnson School, the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and Human Ecology's Department of Policy Analysis and Management will have joint appointments. "The new department will be able to offer a fuller spectrum of economic perspectives, bringing the more empirical approach and policy focus of the ILR school together with the more theoretical approach of the Arts college," says ILR dean Harry Katz. David Easley, previously chair of economics in the Arts college, will lead the new department for the 2011-12 academic year.


CU Loses Arecibo Management

After nearly a half-century of administering Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, Cornell will turn over management of the facility to SRI International, a nonprofit research institute once affiliated with Stanford. In 1963, Cornell professor William Gordon, PhD '53, oversaw construction of what became the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The University has upgraded the telescope several times over the years, enabling it to continue making significant contributions to astronomy and atmospheric sciences such as the confirmation of Einstein's prediction of the existence of gravitational radiation. The management shift, to be completed on October 1, comes after the National Science Foundation chose SRI to manage the facility for the next five years.


Professor Walter Lynn Dies

Walter Lynn

Walter Lynn, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering and of science and technology studies, died of cancer in June. He was eighty-two. The university ombudsman for the past twelve years, Lynn was a member of Cornell's faculty since 1961. During his decades on the Hill, Lynn founded the multidiscipli-nary Center for Environmental Quality Management, served as dean of the faculty, and directed the Program on Science, Technology, and Society, among many other activities. He also served on numerous National Academy panels, was mayor of the Village of Cayuga Heights, and chaired the City of Ithaca's Urban Renewal Agency. "On the list of desirable attributes of a Cornell University ombudsman, the last read 'Non-judgmental, good listener, fair, diplomatic, calm, sensible,' " said President Skorton. "That was Walter." Lynn is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their son, Michael.


olin libraryHappy birthday, Olin: To mark its fiftieth, Olin Library hosted a celebration during reunion, complete with speeches and cake. Attended by nearly 200 people, it was also the kickoff for an exhibition, "Olin @ 50: Inspiration Since 1961." It's on display until December and can be viewed online at


Charles Walcott Named University Ombudsman

Charles Walcott, PhD '59, an ornithologist and former dean of the faculty, is Cornell's twelfth ombudsman. A part-time position, the ombudsman is an informal resource, promoting fairness in Cornell's practices and policies. "Charlie Walcott brings to the position of university ombudsman a deep understanding of Cornell and its people, policies, and procedures, attained through a long association with our university as a graduate student and faculty member," says President David Skorton. Walcott succeeds the late Walter Lynn, who had held the post since 1998.


Atlantic Philanthropies Gifts to Cornell Top $600 Million

Cornell has received a $15 million grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies to support financial aid for students in the Cornell Tradition program—bringing the foundation's total gifts to Cornell to more than $600 million. Atlantic Philanthropies was established by Duty Free Shoppers founder Chuck Feeney '56 in 1982; its first major gift to the University created the Cornell Tradition program, which awards 545 fellowships each year to undergrads with high academic achievement and a commitment to the community. It has since become a model for work-and-service scholarship programs around the country. This year, Feeney signed the Giving Pledge, created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage the wealthiest Americans to donate the majority of their money during their lifetimes. He spoke about his philanthropic activities, as well as his working-class roots and business career, as the Olin Lecturer at Reunion 2011.


Jim Hazzard '50, Former Alumni Affairs Director, Dies

Jim Hazzard '50, who served as director of alumni affairs from 1985 to 1995, died in Ithaca on August 11. He was eighty-four. In addition to his official duties, Hazzard was a member of the Cornell Alumni Association of the Ithaca Area, the Continuous Reunion Club, the Cornell Club of New York, the Cornell Football Association, the Cornell Hockey Association, and the Cornell Basketball Rebounders Club. He served his class in many roles—president, annual fund representative, major gifts campaign chair, and class council. He was a life member of the University Council. Throughout his life, Hazzard was a colleague and mentor to many staff in Alumni Affairs and Development and tireless in his service to the University.


Memorial Honors Fred Kahn

A public memorial was held in June for economist Alfred Kahn, who died in December at age ninety-three. The service in Kennedy Hall's Call Auditorium included remarks by Kahn's colleagues and family members, as well as a slide show and numerous musical performances. Glenn Altschuler, PhD '76, American studies professor and dean of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, praised Kahn's work, his elegance, his light-heartedness, and his devotion to his wife, Mary. "On the job or at home," Altschuler said, "Fred knew how to laugh without reservation." The Cornell Savoyards, with whom Kahn performed for decades, concluded the service with Gilbert and Sullivan songs whose lyrics had been rewritten to reflect his life and legacy. The memorial is available for viewing at