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SUMMER 2 0 0 6

Student joins Mount Vernon commission

  Campus Digest  

David Gilliam, a history major from a small town in North Carolina, thought the best way to get involved in his adopted community was to join the citizens working to protect and promote Mount Vernon's architectural heritage. So he applied for and was appointed to an open seat on the city's 12-member Historic Preservation Commission.

"It's the best way to settle in," says Gilliam, who just finished his first year at Cornell and began a three-year term on the commission.

"I want to learn the history of the town and surrounding cities, educate citizens and students on the area they live in, and ultimately preserve the town from advancement or being absorbed into modern society," he says.

Gilliam, who delayes college for a brief stint in the Army, has ample experience in preservation work. In high school he helped cull historical data on Bethania, N.C., scouring letters, ledgers, and newspaper archives in order to write reports for a town history. He's also active in the incorporation efforts of his hometown, Pfafftown, to prevent annexation by nearby Winston-Salem, or Lewisville.

Richard Thomas, a member of Mount Vernon's Historic Preservation Commission and emeritus professor of history at Cornell, says having a student on the commission benefits the community and Gilliam.

"The commission sees his presence as an asset because the Cornell environment is half of the historic fabric in the town. We need someone who is a resident of that neighborhood," Thomas says. "If he's interested in historic preservation and history, this is a good hands-on opportunity and a way to get to know and be known by residents who may have little or nothing to do with Cornell."

Gilliam traces his interest in history to a summer break from elementary school when he lived in Indiana with his father, now a retired sociology professor who spent summers abroad studying justice systems. Gilliam is especially drawn to Asian and European history, and he would like to spend a year in China studying the culutre and language so he might eventually help companies expand into China.

Mount Vernon Mayor Paul Tuerler, who officially appointed Gilliam to the commission, applauds his initiative. "We were fortunate to have an opening when we had a qualified and interested student who could make the committment to serve," he says.

David Gilliam, a member of the city's Historic Preservation Commission, relaxes in downtown Mount Vernon.

















Mount Vernon, Lisbon unite

“Close to you, far from ordinary” is the new slogan Mount Vernon and Lisbon hope will draw visitors to the area.

The communities have formed a Marketing and Tourism Board, which intends to hire a professional director to implement a marketing plan that includes the creation and maintenance of a Web portal for Mount Vernon and Lisbon ( The nine-member board’s largest single source of funds is the relatively new hotelmotel tax, with broad-based funding and support from the Mount Vernon and Lisbon city councils, both cities’ economic development corporations, local banks, and Cornell. Dee Ann Rexroat ’82 chairs the board.



New VP for business affairs

Mount Vernon native Mark Zinkula is Cornell's new vice president for business affairs/chief financial officer, replacing Glenn Dodd, who retired June 30. Zinkula earned a B.A. from Central College and an M.A. in political science and an M.B.A., both from the University of Iowa. He had been with AEGON in Cedar Rapids since 1991, most recently as executive vice president, global head of fixed income, for which he frequently traveled internationally.

He's the second member of his family to come to the Hilltop; his brother, Tom Zinkula '79, was a standout foot­ball player and student who earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship and completed a law degree at the University of Iowa. He is a priest with the Archdiocese of Dubuque.


Strong finish for Cornell Fellows

The Cornell Fellows program placed 18 students in high- level internships during the academic year with state and municipal agencies, public policy institutes, museums, and major corporations.

Two seniors were hired by the companies that directed their fellowships: Aaron Reykdal '06, a politics and economics and business major, is a business analyst with Target Corp. in Minneapolis; Cara Ballard '06, an English and women's studies major, is a production assistant at the Independent Publishers Group in Chicago.

This summer five students will complete fellowships at Meridian Bank in Phoenix, the Washington, D.C., office of Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, Target in Minneapolis, Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee, and the downtown housing initiative of the Fifteen in 5 community planning process in Cedar Rapids.

For details, go to


Learning math, inside and out

Cole Library became a second home for mathematics faculty and students in May.

Fabian Candelaria, visiting assistant professor, taught his Statistical Methods I class outside one warm day, using an office window backed by blinds as a whiteboard.

"Because of all the erasing, the windows come out cleaner than when we first started the class," quips Candelaria. "Students think it's cool so they pay extra attention, and we promote the class to innocent bystanders what else could we want?"

Inside, the Math Club found an interesting use for 65,536 blank business cards, which when folded just the right way create a 3-D fractal, called a Menger Sponge. The giant cube (4 feet 8 inches on each side) was constructed out of interlocking smaller cubes--no glue or tape was used--in just under two weeks. Sophomore April Johnson had created a smaller cards-into-cubes project for professor James Freeman's math class, On the Shoulders of Giants: Great Mathematical Ideas. When he suggested a larger model, Johnson agreed, the Math Club was enlisted to assist, and space was identified in the library for the project.

According to Merrimack College math professor Tom Hull, author of Project Origami: Activities for Exploring Mathematics, which inspired the Cornell project, this is only the second such Level 3 Menger's Sponge built from business cards.

Too big to fit through the library's doors, the completed Menger Sponge will reside in Cole Library "forever, or until the paper dissolves," Johnson says.

To see how the sponge developed, go to www.cornellcollege. edu/mathclub/

Topped with "Math Happens," the completed Menger Sponge is the center of attention in Cole Library.

Fabian Candelaria, visiting assistant professor of mathematics, teaches a class outside the library, using a window as a whiteboard.








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