More stories in Campus Digest...

Campaign springs forward

CampaignThe effects of Cornell’s largest capital campaign in its history are already being felt around campus and throughout the alumni community. With building projects under way or finished, new challenges on old pledges, and new pledges on future projects, the campaign has had an eventful spring.

Extraordinary Opportunities: The Campaign for Cornell College, as of this printing, has raised approximately $88.3 million for the endowment, scholarships, college priorities, and capital expenses.

John Smith

John Smith '71

Those capital expenses have manifested around campus in the form of renovations to several historic Cornell buildings. Pfeiffer Hall, the centerpiece of the tri-dorm area, was renovated completely during the first semester. While its exterior remains the same, most of the interior is nearly unrecognizable. There are new rooms, new stairs, new lounges, new furniture, improved temperature control, an elevator, new laundry facilities, and even a high-tech classroom and a meeting room. Lounges are furnished with a fridge, stove, oven, and microwave.

Still, the charm of old Pfeiffer remains. The floor plan is relatively unchanged (including the spooky staircase to the “4th” floor) and the fireplace, the centerpiece of Pfeiffer Lounge, remains. Only now a flat screen television hangs over it.

This summer, The Paul K. Scott Alumni Center at Rood House will have transformed the collection of maze-like houses-turned-dorms into a welcoming station for alumni. North House was torn down due to mechanical and structural issues, but the two street-side houses remain and have been completely refurbished to house staff from alumni, college advancement, and college communications. The space formerly used by these departments in Old Sem will be restructured to allow for a one-stop-shop for students, including the registrar, business office, and other student services.


Tom Durham '77 and Rev. Martha Hemenway Durham '78

Even as construction around campus continues, alumni continue to pledge toward the completion of the campaign. The economic crisis has also spurred Board of Trustees chair and Dyan Smith to issue a challenge to other major donors of the college’s need for cash on hand, the Smiths have challenged increase the pace at which Campaign springs Tom Durham ’77 and the Rev. Martha Hemenway Durham ’78 donated $250,000 toward the renovation of The Commons. The couple saw the need to upgrade the “front door” of the college, which not only serves as a student hangout and dining hall, but as a gathering place for events, visitors, and education.

A month after the Durhams’ gift, a class of 1967 alumnus anonymously donated $100,000 to Cornell. The money is unrestricted and will go toward the greatest needs of the college. During these troubling economic times, donations such as these help ensure Cornell remains strong through the crisis.

The economic crisis has also spurred Board of Trustees chair John Smith ’71 and Dyan Smith to issue a challenge to other major donors to the campaign. In light of the college’s need for cash on hand, the Smiths have challenged other donors to increase the pace at which their gifts are fulfilled.

In turn, the Smiths will accelerate their gifts as others do, up to $5 million. John hopes, though, that others will follow his lead and accelerate gifts beyond his $5 million pledge. There are currently $21.5 million in outstanding pledges to Cornell. With this challenge, the Smiths believe they can provide Cornell College with the fiscal solvency to not only work through the poor economy, but to hit the ground running once the recovery begins.

Alumni events

The spring of 2009 may go down as one of the busiest event seasons on record, as Cornellians from all across the country came together in a number of creative ways.

John Smith ’71 and Dyan Smith hosted the season’s kickoff event in their home in Bonita Springs, Fla., where President Les Garner provided a campaign update to more than 60 alumni, including trustees and the President’s Council.

Alumi gathering

John McGrane ’73 (left) and Marty Benson McGrane ’73 hosted an April campaign event in their McLean, Va., home. Pictured with John are Nancy Kleihauer Adams ’64 and Tom Jarom ’66.

The next alumni gatherings were in Cedar Rapids at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships to see the Rams crown three All-Americans; in Denver for a Colorado Rockies game; at Copper Mountain for the annual Cornell Ski day; and back in the Greater Cornell area for the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre production of “Cosi fan tutte.” More traditional gatherings were held in St. Louis and Washington, D.C., in March and April, respectively.

For more information on upcoming events, visit the alumni office Web site, or call the alumni office toll-free at 1-877-MVERNON(683-7666).