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Sun Shines on 142nd Commencement

Student Dies in Car Accident; Gorge Bridge Fences Stay Up; Gift Endows Dyson School; Vet College to Open Hospital in Connecticut Suburb; Engineering, CALS Name New Deans; Grad Student Convicted in Postdoc Wife's Murder; Milstein Hall Rises; Foundry Closes; Library Showcases 'Business' of Mark Twain; PCCW Marks 20th Anniversary; NASA Mission Tests Cornell-Built Camera; Board […]


Student Dies in Car Accident; Gorge Bridge Fences Stay Up; Gift Endows Dyson School; Vet College to Open Hospital in Connecticut Suburb; Engineering, CALS Name New Deans; Grad Student Convicted in Postdoc Wife's Murder; Milstein Hall Rises; Foundry Closes; Library Showcases 'Business' of Mark Twain; PCCW Marks 20th Anniversary; NASA Mission Tests Cornell-Built Camera; Board of Trustees Welcomes Eight New Members; Alumni Can Access Cornell Library's Online Databases


President Skorton 

Sun Shines on 142nd Commencement

Under blue skies and before a crowd of 35,000 friends and family, the Class of 2010 got its marching orders from President David Skorton: "I charge you to continue to lift the world's burdens locally, nationally, and globally—no matter where your path takes you." Some 3,700 bachelor's degrees and 2,600 graduate and professional degrees were conferred during the May 30 commencement ceremony in Schoellkopf Stadium, where Skorton gave the traditional address.

During his talk, Skorton didn't just focus on good news; he acknowledged the high number of student deaths in 2009-10, advising the graduates to consider lessons learned through hardship. "As difficult as these losses have been for all of us," he said, "they have reminded us of the importance of taking care of ourselves, asking for help when we need it . . . and accepting our responsibilities as members of a caring community." Skorton noted that he and the Class of 2010 share a special connection: most were freshmen when Skorton arrived on campus in 2006. "We have shared these four years," he said. "You are moving on, but I am not quite ready to graduate."

The previous day, a similar crowd had gathered in Schoellkopf for a convocation speech by the first female Speaker of the House. Rep. Nancy Pelosi called on the graduates to use their education and expertise to help others—asking engineers and architects "to build the new green infrastructure" and CALS students to "cure disease, feed the world, and minister to all that is God's beautiful creation."

Student Dies in Car Accident

A rising junior in the Hotel school died in a car crash in California in June. Laura Smith '12 of Ashland, Oregon, was killed in the accident, as were her father, Matthew Smith, and her paternal grandparents, Richard Smith, MBA '60, and Sally Van Horn Smith '59, of Simsbury, Connecticut. The family was en route to a sightseeing trip in the Napa Valley when a tractor-trailer bumped their Subaru into oncoming traffic.

Gorge Bridge Fences Stay Up

Ithaca's Common Council has voted unanimously to grant the University a ten-week extension for the chain-link fences on bridges on and near campus. The ten-foot-high temporary fences were installed in March in the wake of three gorge suicides this spring—including two on consecutive days. The extension, until mid-August, will allow for further study of the fences as a suicide deterrent and the design of permanent, more aesthetically pleasing barriers.

Gift Endows Dyson School

In June, President Skorton announced the creation of a new school within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences—the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Made possible by a $25 million gift from the family of trustee emeritus John Dyson '65, the school will allow for the expansion of business education in CALS.

With an enrollment of about 800 students, the current Department of Applied Economics and Management (AEM) is one of only two Ivy League undergraduate business programs to consistently rank in the top ten. "Most business schools are too theoretical," says Dyson, an AEM alum who named the program for his late father. "This is a broad education, not just a business education."

Vet College to Open Hospital in Connecticut Suburb

The College of Veterinary Medicine has announced plans to open a small-animal hospital in Stamford, Connecticut. Cornell University Veterinary Specialists will open in early 2011 with a staff of forty DVMs to provide referral services and twenty-four-hour emergency care. The 20,000-square-foot facility will feature guest quarters for visiting students as well as laboratories for clinical research. The new center, says Vet dean Michael Kotlikoff, "will combine the best elements of private practice and advanced, discovery-based medicine."

Engineering, CALS Name New Deans

Kathryn Boor

Two Cornell colleges have tapped new deans from among their faculty ranks. Food science professor Kathryn Boor '80, on the faculty since 1994, will serve as dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Boor founded Cornell's Food Safety Lab, where she directs research on controlling food-borne pathogens. She succeeds molecular biology and genetics professor Susan Henry, who served two five-year terms.

Lance Collins

The College of Engineering has also named its next leader: mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Lance Collins. Director of the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering for the past five years and a faculty member since 2002, Collins holds a joint appointment at Penn State. He succeeds the interim dean, materials science professor Christopher Ober.

Grad Student Convicted in Postdoc Wife's Murder

Caroline Coffey 

A former graduate student has received the maximum sentence— twenty-five years to life—for murder, arson, and tampering with evidence in the June 2009 death of his wife, a Cornell postdoc. New Zealand native Blazej Kot was convicted in April of murdering twenty-eight-year-old Caroline Coffey, PhD '07. Kot, then a doctoral candidate in information science, was found covered in blood in a closed parking lot at Taughannock Falls State Park; after leading police on a five-mile car chase, he attempted suicide with a knife and was airlifted to a hospital in Pennsylvania. Police found the couple's apartment had been set on fire and ultimately discovered Coffey on a nearby trail, dead of a neck wound. At his trial, the defense argued that Kot was mentally ill and killed Coffey to end what he believed was a "conspiracy" against him.

Milstein Hall Rises; Foundry Closes


As the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning sees its long-awaited building rise, its vintage studio space has been shuttered. This spring, the steel frame of Milstein Hall neared completion. The sixty-two-ton beams—the heaviest pieces of steel ever set on a Cornell building—were lifted into place by a 600-ton crane. But due to a May water-main break that eroded the bank of Fall Creek Gorge, the nearby Foundry has been closed indefinitely. Built in the nineteenth century and recently rehabilitated at a cost of $500,000, the former blacksmith shop is a local historic landmark that houses a sculpture studio and a workshop for fine arts students.

Library Showcases 'Business' of Mark Twain

Mark TwainAn exhibit of handwritten manuscripts, first-edition books, and personal correspondence by Samuel Clemens will be on display in Kroch Library through early October. Marking the centennial of the author's death, "Known to Everyone, Liked by All: The Business of Being Mark Twain" includes multiple editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, an 1870 letter about his famous "Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" story, and works written just days before his death in 1910. Says University Archivist Elaine Engst, MA '72: "This collection comprises the entire sweep of Samuel Clemens's life and offers revealing hints of the man himself."

The exhibit also showcases photographs and artifacts from Clemens's various occupations and interests—from steamboat pilot to celebrity endorser. Among the items on display is an article from the Daily Sun reporting Clemens's 1884 visit to Ithaca, which included a talk to a group of students at a local bar. Twain apologized for the brevity of his remarks, saying that he had "worn out his voice in trying to reform the people of Ithaca."

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PCCW Marks 20th Anniversary

Patricia Carry Stewart '50 and Lilyan Affinito '53 founded the President's Council of Cornell Women in 1990 out of concern for the lack of women on the faculty and in other leadership positions at the University and beyond. Thanks in part to their efforts, there are more female faculty than ever: in 2009 women comprised 26 percent of Cornell professors compared with 20 percent a decade earlier.

The organization celebrated its twentieth anniversary in May with a weekend of campus events including networking forums, research presentations by winners of PCCW grants, and a discussion of the oppression of women in the developing world led by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn '81. The group currently comprises more than 350 alumnae who mentor students, raise funds, and advise the president's office on ways to improve women's standing on the Hill.

Over the past two decades, PCCW has awarded more than $1,000,000 to faculty and alumnae. Despite such achievements, PCCW chair Carolyn Press Landis '65 says challenges remain. "We still see a difference between the proportion of women at the highest ranks of faculty and leadership and the proportion of women in the general Cornell population from which those high ranks are drawn," she says. "In the foreseeable future, PCCW still has a role to play."

NASA Mission Tests Cornell-Built Camera


The first mission of a new NASA observatory featured a powerful infrared camera that was designed and constructed by Cornell faculty. In May, the modified Boeing 747 known as SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) carried the FORCAST instrument 40,000 feet above the Earth on its inaugural flight.

FORCAST (Faint Object InfraRed Camera for the SOFIA Telescope) is capable of taking 100 high-resolution images per second. Designed and built over the course of a decade under the leadership of astronomy professor Terry Herter—who flew on the first mission, which took off from a NASA facility in California— it aims to collect images of forming stars and nearby galaxies that elude ground-based telescopes.

Board of Trustees Welcomes Eight New Members

Gene Resnick

Two alumni-elected representatives are among the eight new members of the Board of Trustees who took office on July 1. Gene Resnick '70, MD '74, and Sheryl Hilliard Tucker '78, will serve four-year terms. A past president of the Weill Cornell Medical College Alumni Association and vice president of the Cornell Alumni Federation, Resnick is executive vice president of the research-support firm Averion International. Tucker, a consultant for Time Warner, is the former executive editor of Time Inc. and a past member of the University Council.

Sheryl Hilliard Tucker

Three other alumni—MIT biomedical engineering professor Robert Langer '70, lodging executive Leland Pillsbury '69, and architectural consultant Dalia Stiller '84—have also joined the board as trustees-at-large, as has Linda Macaulay, an ornithology researcher who was named a Foremost Benefactor in 2001. The other new board members are Darrick Nighthawk Evensen, a doctoral candidate in natural resources, and environmental science professor Nelson Hairston, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Alumni Can Access Cornell Library's Online Databases

The University Library is expanding alumni access to some of its electronic research materials. A broad academic database, as well as two specialized databases focused on business and hospitality, are now accessible with a Cornell Net ID via the alumni section of the library website, The databases provide unlimited access to peer-reviewed literature, popular articles, and other material on a variety of subjects including the sciences, the humanities, economics, and tourism. Publications include the Journal of Leisure Research and Nation's Restaurant News. Graduates without a Net ID can go to for instructions on requesting one.