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Letters to the editor


Endowment demystified

How delighted I was to see the splendid article explaining the nature—and vital importance—of the endowment in the summer Cornell Report. You have demystified the term endowment. Thanks for a job well done on a critical subject.

Thomas Cox ’52
Lincolnshire, Ill.

Honing intelligence

I just finished reading President Garner’s 2003–04 Annual Report year-in-review piece, and his synopsis of the five types of intelligence [analytic, creative, practical, interpersonal, strategic] inspired me to write.

I can say unequivocally that I honed—and in some cases birthed—the five types of intelligence during my four years at Cornell. As a systems administrator in the IT industry, my career presents me with situations that require the use of some or all five types of intelligence on a regular and frequent basis. Like so many others, this industry is fraught with change and challenges that demand the utmost from a person. I know that the skills I learned at Cornell have benefited me over and over.

I believe that Cornell affords its students a well-rounded, fullflavored college experience and certainly delivers graduates that possess the critical skills and intelligence(s) needed to prosper in the world as contributors and great citizens. As time has passed I’ve met all sorts of people from colleges that are big and small, public and private. At some point I do the inevitable comparison of myself to them, and my experience to what I know of theirs. In every case I see more clearly who I am, what I learned, where—and from whom—I learned it, and I value my Cornell education and experience as a whole higher and higher yet.

Brian Koester ’92
Lynchburg, Va.

B.C.S. nerds

I enjoyed reading your piece “Educating scientists in computing” in the latest Cornell Report. I just wanted to put in a word for us B.C.S. (Before Computer Science) nerds, the students who did computers at Cornell before you could major in it. At the time I took Dick Jacob’s assembly-language programming course in the fall of 1975, there was only one computer on campus, and students got access to it only after it had finished doing the college’s administrative work. Even so, it was not hard to get time on it.

When I got my first job in the computer industry, I found that it was fairly easy to distinguish the liberal-arts-math major programmers from the tech-school-electrical-engineering programmers. The first clue was that the former could spell better than the latter. A subtler difference was their approach to fixing bugs—the former stared at the source until they found the logical error, while the latter would just debug the hell out of the code. The math majors were, of course, approaching it like a mathematical proof, while the engineers were approaching it like a faulty electrical circuit. (“When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”) The engineers usually found a fix sooner, but the math majors often found a solution that solved the next two problems
as well.

In short, a mathematics major is not a bad foundation for a career in the software field.

Richard Boylan ’76
Holliston, Mass.

Keck remembered

Dr. L. Robert Keck ’57 [obituary summer 2004 Cornell Report] devoted his life to being a peacemaker and inspired many others to do likewise. I entered Cornell the fall after Bob graduated so I only know him by reputation. I have his books because he wrote on topics of interest to me, and Ron [Stavoe ’60] and I have been involved in Foundation for Global Community, for which Bob was a senior fellow. He was remembered in that organization’s newsletter, which noted, “Based in part on his book, Sacred Quest, Dr. Keck spoke about transforming the root causes of violence, making the point that violence is a relatively recent phenomenon in human history, limited to the past 8,500 to 10,000 years.... He theorized that the world is in the midst of a global transformation of its deep values... [and] that during this transitional period there would be a sense of fear and desperation that could emerge into an enormous amount of violence.”

“But if enough of us awaken to the unique responsibilities inherent in living within this extraordinary time in history,” he wrote, “if enough of us choose to make a difference, to become active peacemakers, and to be diligent in our efforts to usher in this new epoch of the human journey, there are reasons for hope.”

Jane Bedingfield Stavoe ’61
Mount Prospect, Ill.

Members of President’s House student staff in 1947-48 (l-r): Betty Cain Boysen ’50, Ruth Walrath Conner ’50, Mary Sheley Gunn ’50, Gini Chambers Ferguson ’50, and Audrey Mathews Montanus ’50.

Women worked too

Are you folks ready for (what at least ought to be) an onslaught of female response to your delightful portrait of the male campus worker/boarder?

Women (girls in those days) kept the campus—and the town—operating, from office to kitchen, dorm to Main Street, and bottom to top. This photo shows only part of the 1947–48’s resident staffers at the President’s House (and almost all of us had other campus or town jobs as well).

Gini Chambers Ferguson ’50
Placerville, Calif.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is an excerpt from Charles Milhauser’s response:

Thank you for your kind letter and gentle reproof. As yet, there has been no onslaught, but I would like to hear from the many women who, as you so aptly and correctly put it, “kept the campus—and the town—operating.” I am certain I could develop more than one article from their reminiscences. The Cornelliana column in question resulted from a request in the spring 2002 issue of the Cornell Report titled “Calling student janitors” ... The student janitors in whom I was interested were male since the college would not have deemed it safe or proper for a woman to live alone in an often unsecured academic building.

Corrections to 2003–04 Annual Report and Honor Roll of Donors

All class of 1978 25th reunion gifts were given in memory of Jackie Hurley ’78. Her memorial listing included an incomplete list.

William E. Litts ’49 should have been listed as a member of The Rock Society.


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