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SUMMER 2 0 0 6

New chapters for emeriti professors

  Campus Digest  

Religion professor Charles Vernoff displays his emeritus citation at a reception in his honor. Applauding him is Tiffany Clark, a senior from Cedar Rapids.

Professors Rich Martin and Charles Vernoff, who shaped the departments of English and religion, respectively, over a combined 64 years of service, were granted emeriti status in the spring.

Martin, whose wide range of courses included nature writing and the literature of jazz and film studies, will concentrate on a new gig—jazz musician—after 36 years in the classroom. Now his calendar boasts engagements with pianist and bandleader Eddie Piccard '63.

"I want to become a better jazz vibist than I am now. I'll have time to practice and study the vibes methods books to learn how to play this thing," says Martin, a former drummer who turned to the vibraphone in college, then put it away for 30 years.

Vernoff's courses in Mysticism East and West, the History and Theology of the Holocaust, and Contemporary Jewish Literature were "must-have experiences for many Cornell students," notes Dean Brenda Tooley. Now his primary goal after 28 years in the classroom is to write 20 short books--180 pages each--in 10 years, on topics such as Judaica, comparative literature, and America studies. He plans to continue teaching a Cornell course in the fall, a winter course at the Academy for Jewish Studies in Los Angeles, and possibly Elderhostel or adult education courses.

"In the summer I'll spend a few weeks at my funky fifth-wheel trailer/poor man's writer's cabin, living on the mountainous outskirts of the San Bernandino National Forest near Palm Springs--in an 'RV resort' with a great swimming pool and jacuzzi," he says.

Vernoff has established a departmental award, the Vernoff-Epstein Family Memorial Award for Excellence in Judaic Studies, to be granted annually to a junior or senior religion major, for special distinction in Judaic studies.

English professor Rich Martin surveys the commencement crowd as (from left) Chaplain Catherine Quehl-Engel '89, associate professor of English Katy Stavreva, and Dean Brenda Tooley applaud after the reading of Martin's emeritus citation.


Cornell wins NEA grant, collaboration with Playwrights' Center

Cornell's theatre and communications studies department has received a $3,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to workshop and develop a new play, with work on the production occurring in Term 3 of 2006-2007.

The grant, provided through the New Plays On Campus program of the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis, will help fund the residency of playwright C. Denby Swanson. She will work this fall with select students under the supervision of Mark Hunter, chair of theatre and communications studies, to develop her new play, A Brief Narrative of an Extraordinary Birth of Rabbits, and potentially stage it at Cornell the following academic year.

Swanson is a graduate of Smith College and the University of Texas Michener Center for Writers. Her play The Death of a Cat received 18 nominations for local awards after its premiere in Austin, Texas. She has been commissioned twice by the Guthrie Theater to write short plays for young actors and has become a popular guest artist and teacher on the thespian festival circuit. She is on the faculty at Southwestern University.

Cornell was one of three institutions awarded $3,000 NEA grants through the Playwrights' Center; the others were the University of California-Santa Barbara and the University of Puget Sound (Wash.).


Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz.

Hawks land on Hilltop

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz reminded the audience at a March sports medicine symposium hosted by Cornell that he's also the father of an athlete who's suffered injuries.

"Our program has always tried to look at it through the parents' eyes. My goal is to make sure they get the best of care," he said as a member of a panel of representatives from the University of Iowa's sports programs, including his son, Brian, a former center on the football team.

"What is Sports Medicine? A TEAM Perspective" examined sports medicine's effect on the success of athletes and sports programs. The symposium also featured Iowa's directors of sports medicine and athletic training. Orthopedic surgeon and Cornell trustee Larry Dorr '63, a member of Cornell's 1961 conference championship football team and a graduate of Iowa's medical school, moderated the event.

The sports medicine symposium was organized by Cornell's Dimensions: The Center for the Science and Culture of Healthcare. In May, Dimensions helped sponsor a weeklong visit by New York City forensic scientist Jason Kolowski '98, who lectured in the chemistry course Forensic Science: Real Life CSI and joined students on a field trip to the state crime lab in Ankeny. Dimensions also coordinated an April visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for three courses, Health Economics, Wellness, and Mathematical Statistics.

For more information on the Dimensions program, go to



Student awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Danielle Bowen, a mathematics and biology major from Orion, 111., was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award for students interested in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.

The award covers expenses for college tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to $7,500. There were 323 Goldwater Scholars from across the United States named for the 2006- 2007 academic year.

Bowen, who just completed her junior year, intends to pursue a doctorate in statistical genetics and conduct research in mapping loci that are contributors to fatal human diseases. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa; president of the Cornell Mathematics Society; treasurer of Tri-Beta, the biology honor society; a member of Geology Club and Biology Reading Group; a tutor for the math department and a peer consultant for the Writing Studio.

"Danielle's study of mathematics, statistics, and computer science will contribute greatly to her ability to do meaningful research in the biological sciences. This renaissance approach will be the trend in first-rate scientific education and research in the coming years," said Tony deLaubenfels, professor of computer science and mathematics.


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