Letters to the editor

Reflections on Garner presidency

I have only met President and Mrs. Garner once but was impressed by them both, and I enjoyed getting to know them better through the article "Portrait of a Presidency." It seems the Garners are wonderful caretakers of the campus, the students, and the legacy of Cornell.

Dani Noe '91
Palm Coast, Fla.

I just finished reading the latest issue of the Cornell Report and found it very interesting and inspirational. It made me proud to be a Cornellian (again/still), and I sent my copy to my best friend whose son is considering Cornell. I enjoyed reading the article about Les and Katrina Garner's presidency—it gave a terrific overview of recent college history that many alumni may not have known.

I think the most exciting additions to campus are the programs that have been developed over the past few years (Dimensions, Fellows, Berry Center, etc.).

I especially loved the "What you should know" piece, which introduced readers to disciplines that they didn't have a chance to study or only touched on during their Cornell years. I would like to see more of that!

This issue reinforced my desire to continue to support Cornell with my time and the resources I have available—we alumni should feel proud of what we have helped Cornell accomplish over the past 15 years under President Garner's leadership. The sense of connection that Cornell alumni feel with our alma mater long after we have graduated is what continues to make Cornell College a very special place.

Sheila Kruse Boyce '85
Miami, Fla.

While Les Garner's tenure began well after my graduation in 1977, I have always read with interest about his impact on the college and its future direction. Now is the time for him and Katrina to plan their own future paths! A recent Cornell Report described the elaborate pizza parties that the Garners hosted, complete with Katrina's homemade pizzas. I would love to see the recipe for one of her creations in a future publication.

Carol Donauer Brodie '77
Arlington Heights, Ill.

Web extra — Here are some of Katrina's pizza and pizza crust recipes

Les Garner

(Photo by Linda Kahlbaugh

Remembering Robert Dana

Robert Dana was one of the best reasons there ever was for attending Cornell College. He was a friend and mentor to many of his students over the years and many of these relationships continued beyond college into the present. Cornell was rich with professors who spent time with us outside the classroom. In those days when I attended, the list included the Van Fossens, Phillip Marshall, Ken Freeman, Steve Tudor, and many others. Stephen Lacey, who was a fellow student and a friend of mine, carried on that tradition when he became a professor of English at Cornell.

As poet and writer, rp has left an exceptional legacy. He had a special sense of vocation and he shared this with his many—his very many—friends. I will also remember spending time with him at Argonne National Laboratory, at Poetry Magazine's reading in Chicago, and in Berkeley, Calif., where he met the boyfriend I eventually married.

He was generous with his time and his knowledge. Simply said, we loved him, and we feel a great sense of loss at his passing.

Kathleen Tracy Colwill '64
Berwyn, Penn.

Robert Dana was one of my cherished mentors. He was chair of the department the year I—a very damp-behind- the-ears visiting instructor— was hired to the tenure track at Cornell. He helped me have a chance. He taught me more than I knew at the time about how to have a healthy perspective on college affairs, how to navigate the complexities of generational differences in our department, and how to have and hold my own kind of integrity. Together with Stephen Lacey, though (of course) in a very different way, he taught me to be the professor—and now administrator—I wanted to be. No more committees to grind the heart to powder, Robert.

I cherish his memory and our friendship and am profoundly grateful to him for his kindness and patience with my younger self.

David Evans (English, 1990-2000)
VP for Academic Affairs Buena Vista University
Storm Lake, Iowa

The single most important teacher in my life, aside from my mother. From freshman English reading Raymond Carver to senior year Poetry Writing I and II. He shaped what I wrote then and what I do today. I was such a punky know-it-all. He had us over to his house once and served blue tortilla chips. I was so impressed. I thought of him often since 1994 and didn't write. What a lesson just learned about staying in touch. Yesterday I made a Carver reference in a business e-mail, just to make myself smile. Professor Dana, I miss you.

Amy Winger '94
Kansas City, Mo.

During my first year at Cornell, in 1965, I met Bob when I volunteered to stuff envelopes with the North American Review in the years after the revival. I took two classes from Bob during tumultuous years at Cornell—1968–1969. He was a solid presence during the upheaval, remaining both compassionate and somewhat separate from it all. Twenty years later, I took a writing workshop with him at Morningside College. He remembered me, and spoke with me as if no time had passed. I want to honor Bob for the kind clarity of his teaching, and for the deeply moving poem (I've forgotten its name, but not its impact) of returning to his hometown in Massachusetts. There was a line there about no one remaining there who even remembered his name. Bob Dana, we remember your name.

Steve Simmer '69
Northhampton, Mass.

Editor's note: More than 40 people have posted tributes to Dana on his remembrance page.

Robert Dana

Read or post tributes to Robert Dana on his remembrance page.

What you should know

I greatly enjoyed reading the fall 2009 issue. There is page after page of fascinating reading but I particularly appreciated the section with thumbnail sketches of several academic disciplines. The faculty authors did a great job of abbreviating the significance of each of them. The reader is able not only to learn about each of those disciplines, but also can catch glimpses of how they relate to each other to form a composite body of knowledge. Liberal arts faculty in a college like Cornell are especially equipped to show students those relationships and their uses.

Bob Engel '55
Iowa City, Iowa

I was impressed with your section of professors' five-point synopses of their particular fields. That was a great editorial idea, and the "primers," as you call them, are marvelous encapsulations of each discipline's purpose as interpreted by its disciple. The statements give me renewed admiration and confidence in Cornell's faculty. In fact, I would hope that every applicant for a faculty position is asked to submit such a document.

I really wish I could see comparable statements from my professors, way back when. I'm sure they would sound a lot different. What those differences would be, I can only imagine.

Gene DeRoin '49