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Founders' March Honors Opening

  Campus Digest  

As viewed from the King Chapel tower, a procession of faculty, students, staff, and townspeople reenact the march to Old Sem in 1853 to officially open the college on the hilltop.

On a sunny but blustery day much like it might have been 150 years ago, faculty, students, and staff lined up on the pedestrian mall in mid-November to reenact the march to Old Sem on Nov. 14, 1853, the day the college officially moved from the Mount Vernon Methodist Church. The College Hall bell was rung 150 times-by students in Intermediate Russian, who also counted along-and the entourage proceeded through Old Sem and into King Chapel for President Les Garner's commentary on the historical and current character of the college, "The Cornell Story," plus remarks by speakers from the community, the Methodist Church, and Cornell's faculty, student body, and alumni association, represented by board president Lu Ann White '78.

In September 1853, classes began at Cornell-then called the Iowa Conference Seminary-in the old Methodist Episcopal Church because construction was not finished on the first academic building on the new 15-acre campus. Once the Seminary Building was complete, on the morning of Nov. 14, faculty and students walked in procession through the village and took formal possession of their classroom facility.

National Medal of Science recipient Leo Beranek '36

Beranek receives National Medal

President Bush presented Leo Beranek '36 with the National Medal of Science at the White House in November. Beranek is considered the pioneer of modern acoustic technology and an important figure in the early development of the Internet.

The former Cornell College trustee earned a PhD from Harvard University and headed a team to improve voice communication in WWII military bombers and tanks. He later taught at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ran a television station in Boston for 11 years, and wrote seven books. In 1948, he and two MIT colleagues created the acoustical consulting firm Bolt Beranek & Newman. They filled concert halls with clarity and quieted buildings (including the United Nations building), jet engine test cells, submarines, and naval ships.

Beranek has said his beginning at Cornell "had a little bit of heavenly luck." In August 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, Leo went to withdraw his life savings of $500 to pay his first year's tuition and books at Cornell. The teller hesitated, summoned the manager, and after learning Beranek was entering college, gave it to him. The next morning the bank didn't open. It had failed.

Key connections.

In addition to being Cornell's 150th year, 2003 was also the year of sesquicentennial celebrations for Steinway & Sons pianos and for a grassy area in New York the locals like to call Central Park.

Since 1853 Steinway has made it its purpose to craft the finest pianos. Since that same year, Cornell has tried to craft the finest minds. Need a stronger connection? In 1870, William Steinway wrote to his dealers that the Steinway piano forte would be the exclusive piano of the Theodore Thomas Grand Orchestra (renamed the Chicago Symphony in 1913). Then, from 1903 through 1963, that same orchestra made yearly visits to perform at Cornell.

Central Park and Cornell College share a closer connection. It's possible to look at Central Park's 26,000 trees, 58 miles of pathways, 843 acres, and 25 million visitors a year and believe it has little in common with Cornell College. But 150 years of history have brought them together. Cornell and Central Park share in the bond of being recognized by the National Register. Central Park is a National Historic Landmark, while Cornell was the first campus listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places.

Senate sends a message

Student Senate has donated $5,000 to the college endowment, earmarked for faculty and staff salaries.

"We wanted to send a message to the board of trustees and administration," said Senate president Liz Ditlevson, a junior from St. Cloud, Minn. "The faculty are very good and we feel they should be compensated accordingly."

President Les Garner called the donation "a very generous act." Cornell faculty salaries rank ninth out of 13 colleges in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest who reported salaries.

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