$250,000 for new bookstore

A $250,000 pledge from the Esther and Robert Armstrong Charitable Trust will fund a new bookstore in The Commons, which was built during Esther Armstrong’s tenure on Cornell’s board of trustees.

Esther ArmstrongEsther Armstrong

Esther Armstrong, honorary alumna and life trustee, served on the board from 1958 to 1985. She died in 2002. Her husband, who died in 1990, was chairmanof Armstrong’s department store in Cedar Rapids. Two of their daughters, now deceased, attended Cornell: Mary Armstrong Dusek ’50 and Esther Armstrong Cooper ’52.

Trustee John Bickel ’66, who served with Armstrong, says she was “engaged, enthusiastic, and wise.” She was so committed to her task on the board that she volunteered to stay overnight in a women’s residence hall, he recalls.

“She did this so she could speak authoritatively about the student experience at board meetings,” Bickel said. “She loved the extraordinary opportunities Cornell provided for the students.”

Renovation of The Commons is due to begin next summer. The 1966 building will gain a more spacious entryway, lounge space, and private dining rooms; the larger and more prominent bookstore; and an addition that will feature a multipurpose room to seat 200 people that can be used for meetings, lectures, dances and catered events. The project is expected to cost $12 million.