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September 2015 Class Letter

Dear classmates –

I hope you enjoyed your summer, wherever you were. Ithaca was beautiful in July when I was there for the annual Cornell Association of Class Officers (CACO) Board retreat; one of my small regrets in life was that I never spent a summer in Ithaca. In this letter:

The Class of ’73 brings the Sesquicentennial to Afghanistan

Cornell staged blowout Sesquicentennial events in London and Hong Kong as well as major cities in the US. But it took the Class of ’73 to bring the Sesquicentennial to Afghanistan.

1LT Jonathan Apollo Roman (R) and friend

1LT Jonathan Apollo Roman (L) and a friend with Sesqui swag, courtesy of members of the Class of ‘73

At our 35th Reunion in 2008, one of the workers at our headquarters was a student named Jonathan Apollo Roman ’11. Thilde Peterson, a member of our class council and now Affinity Group chair, got to know Jonathan and stayed in touch with him through Facebook after he graduated and went into the Army. Just before Charter Day last April, she told me about Jonathan and said he’d like some Sesquicentennial-themed stuff. Could I get some for him? Of course! I picked out a selection of merchandise at the Campus Store, plus random free stuff that was being handed out during the weekend, plus programs showing what went on during the Festival of Ideas and Innovation, and sent them to him in Afghanistan. Shortly afterwards, he posted the attached photo of himself and a friend at the base showing off his Sesquicentennial swag, along with his thanks.

One last bit of Sesquicentennial-iana: There were various Cornell Association of Class Officers (CACO)-sponsored photo-scanning events across the country during 2014-15 in which alumni brought in photos to be scanned and memorabilia to be donated to the University Archives. You can see the scanned photos here on Flickr.

Classmates’ out-of-the-ordinary volunteering

Some of our classmates are volunteering for Cornell in ways that meld their personal passions and life experiences with Cornell’s pioneering work in areas that distinguish it as a world-class university. In my last letter I described the work Wayne Merkelson ’73, JD ’75 is doing with the Cornell Plantations and the McGovern Family Center for Venture Development in the Life Sciences.

In this letter, I want to tell you about the work Marty Sherman ’73, MHA ’75 is doing with the Sloan Program in Health Administration, a two-year graduate program in the College of Human Ecology. Marty is one of Cornell’s great volunteers, having served not only as an officer and president of the Class of ’73, but as president of CACO, director of the Cornell Federation of Alumni, and president of the Cornell Club of Boston and the Hotel Society of Philadelphia. Here is her story.

Meet our new Class of ’73 scholarship recipient

As you know, we dedicated all donations to the scholarship fund received between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 in honor of our classmate Susan Murphy ’73, PhD ’94, on her retirement from more than thirty years’ distinguished service to Cornell, culminating as Vice President for Student and Academic Services. Three dozen classmates from Ithaca to Islamabad contributed more than five thousand dollars to provide financial assistance to future Cornellians, who without such assistance, would not be able to attend Cornell. Thanks to you all!

Rachel Stein '18 with her father Peter Stein, MEng '84.

Rachel Stein ’18 with her father Peter Stein, MEng ’84.

Our new class scholarship recipient is Rachel Stein ’18 (an appropriate class for our 18th scholarship recipient).  Rachel is a sophomore majoring in Urban and Regional Planning in the College or Architecture, Art, and Planning.  She comes from a big Cornell family, too.  In fact, some of you may have taken courses taught by her grandfather, the late Professor Emeritus Stuart Stein. Reading Rachel’s letter, you get a picture of the huge breadth of opportunities available to Cornell students today, dwarfing by far anything that was available to us.  And you can sense both the idealism and the practicality of Rachel and her generation.  To be honest, I myself have contributed infrequently to the scholarship fund in the past, but as I’ve come to learn about our recent recipients,  I view it more and more as an investment in the future of Cornell, the country, and indeed the world.  So please keep the scholarship in mind when you contribute to Cornell or pay your class dues online.

It’s Greek to me

In addition to a scholarship fund, the Class of ’73 has a small Book Fund, out of which the University Libraries buy books from time to time.  I recently received a letter from Patrick Stevens, a selector in the Religious Studies area of the library, who wrote to thank the Class of ’73 for providing the funds to buy a copy of the Andronici Camateri Sacrum armamentarium, part of a series of “authoritative, expensive,…expertly edited texts from ecclesiastical history.”  This particular document, in Greek, is the result of a 12th century meeting between the Byzantine emperor and a delegation of cardinals, the purpose of which was to try to reunify the Latin and Greek churches.  I include it not just because it’s an expression of thanks to the Class, but because it is a striking reminder of the incredible range of scholarly concerns embraced by the University and enabled by your generosity.

Upcoming events

  • Cornell plays Boston University in hockey at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, November 28. The Class of ’75 is organizing a “Classes of the ‘70s” pre-game tailgate at Local Café and Cocktails at 1 Penn Plaza, right across from MSG. Details will be announced very shortly.
  • The annual Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference will be at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott January 22-23, 2016. The Class of ’73 will have some sort of class event, possibly in conjunction with other ‘70s classes, on Friday evening, January 22. All alumni who are in the area will be invited to attend.

In conclusion

I urge you to watch some of President Beth Garrett’s inauguration as the 13th president of Cornell. She is an inspiring woman and I look forward to knowing her better.  I heard from several people that an eagle was seen soaring above the Arts Quad during the inauguration.  You can’t ask for a better omen than that!  If you want to cut to the chase, her speech begins at minute 48 and goes for about thirty minutes.  She uses C. P. Cavafy’s poem Ithaka as a hook to structure her speech — very effective, and it made me look up and read the poem, too.

Feel free to get in touch with me ( concerning class or Cornell matters any time. I hope to see you at a Cornell event soon.

Best regards –