Print Shortlink

October 2017 Class Letter

Dear classmates —

Forty-five years ago, we were beginning our senior year, wondering what life would be like when we graduated.  Graduate or professional school, the first real job, marriage, moving to a new city, state, or country, and a thousand other possibilities loomed.  Now, 45 years later, we are looking at our time on the Hill, and those decades in between, from the other end of the telescope. Our 45th Class Reunion (June 7-10, 2018) is fast approaching (as is just about everything these days), and our Reunion Co-Chairs, Debbie Rothman and Danielle Trostorff, are planning a super celebration along the theme of “Connect the Dots.”  (More about that later.) We hope you can and will join us next June in Ithaca to greet old friends and make some new ones.

In this letter:

Reunion preview: When, where, what

Our Reunion Co-Chairs, Debbie Rothman and Danielle Trostorff, went to Reunion 2017 to scout out venues and caterers, made some decisions as to first and second choices, discussed them with the class officers and council, relayed them to the University, and came back from the annual Reunion Kick-Off meeting with the following confirmed choices:

  • Our class headquarters will be the Carl Becker House.  We were there for our 35th Reunion.  It is air-conditioned (not that we’ve always needed a/c at all our Reunions).
  • Thursday evening dinner will be at our headquarters, as will breakfasts on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
  • The Friday evening reception and dinner will be at the Cornell Botanic Gardens.
  • We are working with the Cornell Black Alumni Association to jointly present the documentary film Agents of Change, possibly on Friday morning, and probably at the Straight.  This film is about the April 1969 Willard Straight Hall takeover by Black students and the events that led up to it.  A presentation of this film at the 2017 Reunion by the Class of 1972 was standing room only.  If you want a preview, here’s the trailer.
  • There will not be a class lunch on Saturday.  There will be an open-seating lunch for all between 11 am – 2 pm at the Statler, which you may attend if you like.
  • The Saturday evening reception will be at the Andrew Dickson White House garden, with dinner to follow at the Statler, a short walk away.
Our Saturday evening reception will be at the A. D. White House and garden.

Our Saturday evening reception will be at the A. D. White House and garden.

Reunion theme: Connect the Dots

For our 35th and 40th Reunions, Affinity Co-Chair Larry Taylor and I focused on getting people who were in undergraduate affinities (clubs, teams, organizations, Greek groups, etc.) to reach out to each other to encourage their members to come back for Reunion.  Prior to our 40th Reunion, I got an email from a classmate asking about affinity groups, but what she had in mind was like-minded people who might want to go to the Johnson Art Museum or some other activity together, based on shared interest.  I had to admit we hadn’t been thinking along those lines.

Our current Affinity Chair, Thilde Peterson, took that last idea and ran with it.  Undergraduate affinities represent what people’s connections to Cornell used to be.  How about looking at what people’s current connections to Cornell are?  To do this, we got a list of all classmates who had donated in the last five years to any unit of Cornell. (We only wanted and got the names, not the donation amounts.)  The results were very interesting.  From capital improvements to the rock garden to capital improvements to the new Health Center, from the libraries to the art museum, across all schools and colleges and many teams, religious organizations, Greek organizations, and dozens of other causes (including the Class of 1973 Scholarship and Book Fund), there is hardly any part of the University’s academic, student, or social life which our classmates are not supporting.

Undergraduate affinities enable people to connect with old friends, which has always been the main reason people come to Reunions.  Current affinities, such as an interest in cats which led a couple of dozen classmates to contribute to the Cornell Feline Health Center, can enable classmates to connect with new people and maybe make new friends based on shared interests.  To that end, we are doing some new things at our 45th Reunion:

  • We are recruiting affinity group leaders (AGLs) for some of the current affinities.  Their job will be to acts as informal focal points for people who might be going to events put on by that affinity, and so arrange to meet up there (e.g., people with an Arts College affinity might congregate to walk from Class HQ to an Arts College event).
  • When Reuners check in at Class HQ, there will be labels they can attach (to a badge, or lanyard, or something TBD) to indicate their current affinities.  This will enable classmates who don’t know each other to find people with common interests (hence Connect the Dots!).  A great ice-breaker at class events!
  • We will try to post, at Class HQ, events which are of special interest to members of current affinities.
  • The University always has a packed schedule of events for people to attend.  But we expect a few AGLs of current affinities will be willing and able to reach out to their organizations and arrange for special visits or tours by Reuning classmates.

If you have ideas about what we can do, or would like to be an affinity group leader yourself, please contact me and I’ll pass your info on to Thilde.

What affinity group is this?

What affinity group is this from our last Reunion? Email me if you know!

Reunion innovation: making first-timers welcome

At every Reunion of our class, at least 20% of the attendees are attending their first Reunion — even 40 years out!  We expect this Reunion will follow the pattern. One of the top reasons people of all classes give for not attending Cornell events generally is: I won’t know anybody.  Some of you may be thinking this when contemplating attending the upcoming Reunion. Maybe you’ve never been to Reunion, or it’s been so long since you attended one it seems like this will be your first one.

To encourage you to come, and to help insure you have a great time when you are here, we are going to implement a good old summer-camp buddy system.  As a first-time Reuner, we’ll match you up with a volunteer buddy even before you arrive at Class HQ.  Your buddy will be someone you can sit with at class events and meet up with at University Reunion events.  Plus this year we have a dedicated Reunion email address (see below) to which first-time Reuners (or anyone) can send any questions or concerns ahead of time.

Too much?  Not enough?  What do you think we can do to encourage and make welcome first-time Reuners?  Send your ideas to Debbie and Danielle.

Reunion challenge: We’re aiming to set records

The Class of 1973 has been a leadership class in terms of setting Reunion records for the number of Tower Club donors ($5000 and above) and the number of classmates who donate during a Reunion year.  This Reunion, we aiming to break — no, explode! — the records in both categories.

Jon Kaplan and Wayne Merkelson, along with their Fundraising Committee, are aiming for 100 Tower Club donors, and are already more than halfway to the goal.  We had 89 Tower Club donors for our 40th Reunion, and the record (held since 2001 by the Class of 1956) is 96.

Jon, Wayne, and the Committee have also generously put up a matching challenge grant to encourage classmates to break the participation record for number of donors at any level.  The current record (held since 2000 by the Class of 1955) is 637 donors.  The Committee’s challenge is that they will match every gift up to a maximum of $50 per gift — and when the 638th person donates, they will add another $25,000 in honor of the class’ breaking the record.  We have had more than that number of donors in every Reunion year going back at least to our 20th Reunion (except for last Reunion where we narrowly missed it).  So please give whatever is comfortable for you and help the class set a new record!

Just to be clear, the match operates for a donation of any size: a $5 gift gets a $5 match, a $50 gift gets a $50 match, and a $500 gift gets a $50 match.  Also, please be aware that rankings of colleges and universities, such as US News & World Reports’ rankings, use the alumni giving participation rate as a component of the overall score.

Reunion registration preview: We’re going green

This year, for the first time, we are going to mostly-online registration.  Next March, everyone with a valid email address on file with Cornell will get an email with a link to online registration.  We are aware that Cornell emails can get hung up in spam filters, or the email can just sink to the bottom of the in-box very quickly.  And about a third of our classmates have not supplied an email address.  So we will supplement the email with a postcard that will go to every classmate, pointing them to the online registration site and providing a phone number to call in case of problems.  If you prefer not to register online, you can always print out the forms, fill them out, and send them in with your credit card number or check.  This approach saves the class thousands of dollars, while ensuring that everyone gets contacted.

Using the Class of ’73 Book Fund for Cornell’s Religion Studies collection

Last year I posted a letter from the Cornell Libraries thanking the class for the Class of ’73 Book Fund’s purchase of “part of a series of ‘authoritative, expensive,…expertly edited texts from ecclesiastical history.'”  In August, I wrote to Patrick Stevens, the Selector for Jewish Studies, to ask what arcane items he had purchased using Book Fund.  Here is his reply:

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your message. I trust all is well with you.

It is true that many of the titles I acquire for studies of religion in general and Christianity in particular are arcane. Not only is there breadth to the scholarship in these fields, but also there is resounding depth manifested in these monographs, which often are evolutions from doctoral dissertations whose one requirement if no other is to present theoretically original syntheses. Other works include scholarly editions of significant texts, often ones that present philological or historical problems. Still others are collected essays covering fields of specific research.

One recent such volume of contributed essays funded by the Class of 1973 Book Fund is Biblical & Qurʼānic Traditions in the Middle East, edited by Cornelia B. Horn and Sidney H. Griffith. (See a description of the content at the site provided by the publisher, Abelian Academic.) The Myōtei Dialogues: a Japanese Christian Critique of Native Traditions, edited by James Baskind and Richard Bowring, is an example of an important text in the esoteric study of Japanese Christianity and its implicit cultural intersections. The presentation is a translation of the Japanese Myōtei mondō.

One more example is Littérature, politique et religion en Afrique vandale: Textes réunis et édités par Étienne Wolff. These contributed papers were initially presented at a 2014 conference in Paris and address the important religious and political developments among the Vandals in a region that had a few years earlier brought forth the major church father and bishop Augustine of Hippo. A significant personage addressed in this volume is the fifth-century Latin poet Blossius Aemilius Dracontius.

I hope mention of these texts—there are more here, and will, thanks to the Class of 1973 Book Fund, be more in the future—will confirm the impression thatcollection development in the library does mirror the intensity and diversity of research pursued in our academic departments. Ultimately, the enterprise of research and discovery and dissemination of knowledge would not exist without the library, and this has been so since Antiquity. I am most appreciative for the initiative of the Class of 1973 in perpetuating the library tradition.

Yours sincerely,

 All good wishes,


~ Patrick J. Stevens

~~Curator of the Fiske Icelandic Collection and Managing Editor, Islandica series
~~Selector for Jewish Studies
~~Selector for Religion Studies
~~Selector for Northern European (Scandinavian and Dutch) Literatures 

In conclusion…

We have a dedicated email account for Reunion, so if you have ideas, questions, or concerns, send them to CornellReunionClass1973 (at)

Some upcoming events to watch for:

  • Red-Hot Hockey pre-game tailgate for classes of the 1970s, Saturday, November  25 from 5:30 pm – 8 pm.  Watch for an email closer to the date.
  • To find events near you, check out this University events link.

I look forward to seeing you at Reunion, or at a Cornell event before then!

best regards —

Paul M. Cashman
President, Cornell Class of 1973