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May 2014 Class Letter

Dear Classmate,

A year ago we were gearing up for our 40th Reunion.  It was great to see so many classmates, and the slightly Ithacating weather didn’t dampen our spirits.  Check out the pictures at, our class web site.

Whether it’s a large event like Reunion or small events like the 60th birthday parties held by members of our class in 2011, communication is an essential part of making it happen.

The class has cut its mailing costs in half by switching from snail mail to email as much as possible.  But we only have email addresses for about half the class, and your email address may change as you change jobs or Internet service providers.

  • One thing you can do is to get a Cornell NetID.  It’s free, it provides a permanent email address that can forward your email to your current address, and it enables you to sign up quickly for Cornell events, since it stores all your Cornell data.  Sign up for a NetID today at
  • If you have a permanent email address, such as a Gmail address, please let us know about it.  (Or just let us know your current email address.)  You can update any of your contact information at

We are always interested in hearing what you are up to.

We now have to poll the “connected” classmates to see what is important to them with respect to the activities the class should undertake.  The class officers and council are putting together a SurveyMonkey survey that will be sent to all classmates for whom we have a current email address.  Look for it sometime this summer.  Your responses will help shape our plans for class participation in the Cornell Sesquicentennial activities that will begin this fall and extend into the spring of 2015.

One interesting use of electronic communication you’ve probably read about is MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses).  Tens of thousands of students around the world, from high school students to lifelong learners, are taking courses this way. Cornell participates in the edX consortium, and this semester launched four free courses, all taught by Cornell professors:

In a fit of enthusiasm, I signed up to audit all four.  But I quickly found that the two- to four-hour weekly commitment per course limited me to two courses, so I chose “American Capitalism” and “Networks, Crowds, and Markets.”  Both courses are a mix of recorded micro-lectures (six to eight minutes per segment, and four to six segments per week) and quick quizzes (with instant feedback) or discussion questions.  The history professors especially try to make the MOOC interactive.  They comment on people’s questions and answers in the discussion forums, give prizes for good answers (as voted on by class participants), and participate in live Google+ hangouts with groups of people who are taking the course together.
By the time you get this message, the courses will have concluded.  But they are archived and you can still listen to the lectures and take the online quizzes.

If stretching your mind in this way intrigues you, learn more about CornellX at  You can sign up to be notified when new courses are added, or go to to see all the courses taught by members of the 20-school consortium.

Enjoy your spring, and if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact me at

Best regards,

Paul M. Cashman
President, Cornell Class of 1973