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Death of an icon

  Campus Digest  

Alpha Theta Alpha members (from left) Marc Epstein '70, Steve LaFollette '69, Grimes Poznik '69, Larry Moore '70, and Larry Shive '71.

News of the death of Grimes Poznik ’69 on Oct. 27, 2005, was carried worldwide, from his hometown paper the San Francisco Chronicle to The Hindu, India’s national newspaper. It had been a while since he garnered so much attention.

Poznik’s claim to fame came as the “Automatic Human Jukebox” in the 1970s and early 1980s. Known by then as Grimes Poznikov, he sat at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in a cardboard refrigerator box, waiting for tourists to drop in some cash and then popping out to play requests on a trumpet, a kazoo, or other instruments stored in his box. The bigger the contribution, the better the quality of his playing. His act was so popular he was booked on national television shows and featured in news articles and travel guides.

By the late 1980s he was battling schizophrenia and homeless. He died of alcohol poisoning and was discovered on a sidewalk near a San Francisco freeway.

Mike Conklin ’69, in one of his final articles before retiring from the Chicago Tribune, wrote about encountering his classmate at the freshman talent show, as a “cocky little first-year student from a small town in Kansas who came onstage twirling his trumpet as if it were a six-shooter and he a TV cowboy.” The crowd was blown away by his music and flair.

Poznik endeared himself to classmates again, Conklin reports, when he was arrested at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago for standing on a Grant Park statue playing “America the Beautiful” during the riots. After earning a degree in psychology, he taught elementary school in Chicago, then took his music act to anti-war protestsaround the country.

“He got stuck in the ’60s, when there was a spontaneity, naivete and idealism in our culture that seems sadly absent today,” Conklin wrote. Read the Tribune article on the following page of the eReport.


Alumni, foundations fund faculty, courses

Trustee Richard Ryan ’67 and his wife, Carol Sklenicka, have funded the annual Ryan-Sklenicka Award, which provides $3,000 to assist a faculty member’s work on a major scholarly or creative project to be shared beyond the Hilltop. The inaugural award goes to Katy Stavreva, associate professor of English, who specializes in Renaissance theater and performance studies. She will use the funding to complete a book-length study of female rhetorical violence in early modern England and its staged representations.

Richard “Joe” Morton ’50 and Joy Gaarde Morton, honorary alumna, are funding the Gaarde-Morton Junior Faculty Award, which provides $1,000 annually to help a faculty member develop or revise an upcoming course. The first recipient will be announced in March.

Former trustee and board chair Jerry Ringer ’59 and Carole Ringer, honorary alumna, contributed $1.5 million to establish an endowed faculty position. The Ringer Distinguished Professorship is a five-year appointment. The first recipient will be announced in May.

Elfriede Massier ’62 has funded the Emil and Rosa Massier Faculty Award in the Social Sciences, providing up to $1,500 for expenses related to an off-campus course. The award honors her parents.

Finally, the Kimmel Nelson Harding Center for the Arts in Nebraska City, Neb., is teaming with Cornell to establish residencies for faculty and recent graduates. The center will provide housing and a weekly stipend for a month-long residency for one or two faculty in art, theater, music, or creative writing; and for a two-month Kimmel Postgraduate Residency each fall for one just-graduated student in the fine arts.

Cornell’s Kimmel Theatre was partially funded with a $1.2 million grant from the Kimmel Foundation, which was started on behalf of the late Richard Kimmel ’19 and his wife, Laurine. He owned an apple orchard in Nebraska City for more than 40 years.


That Cornell U thing again

Predictably, when University of Iowa President David Skorton was named president of Cornell University in January, a local media source reported he would lead Cornell College.

Less predictable and more fun was finding an unrelated online article in the Cornell University student newspaper, the Sun, which referred to mix-ups that may occur when students use the Common Application accepted by 300 colleges nationwide. Sun columnist Andy Guess warned about the consequences and described a potential campus visit scenario:

“And there’s that one moment when the admissions officer warns everyone in the room that Cornell University does not, in fact, use the Common Application. ‘I can’t tell you how many students have accidentally applied to Cornell College!’ the officer jokes. Everyone in the room then takes a second to feel superior to the poor high schoolers who used the Common App to apply to the wrong Cornell, and who will end up in rural Iowa instead of rural New York. But now that Cornell University has switched to the Common App, it’s even easier to make that mistake.”

Karla Morford, the Cornell College admission counselor whose territory includes New York, says we recently added Iowa in parenthesis behind “Cornell College” on the Common App, and that has helped differentiate the institutions. Still, the confusion exists. “Most of the time they’re embarrassed,” she says of students who apply to the wrong Cornell, “and they apologize.”


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