We've hosted many distinguished visitors since the start of the Beta Omicron Distinguished Alumni Visitor Program. Take a look at some of our visitors from the past. 


Bill Robison '60
Livermore National Laboratory

Renowned biophysicist Bill Robison spent 3 days on the Hilltop in March 2006. Robison, Cornell Class of 1960, served as Scientific Director of the Marshall Islands Dose Assessment and Radioecology Program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California for nearly a quarter of a century. During his visit, he presented a public lecture,“Dose Assessment And Radioecology At A Former Nuclear Test Site.” Additionally, Dr. Robison visited courses in Environmental Politics and Astrophysics.

Robison's time on campus offered unique insights into the 1970s Marshall Islands clean up project. His professional work includes extensive research on the environmental and human impact of the H-bomb tests on several of the islands during the 1950s.

Visit date: March 13-14, 2006


Sydney Smith Hicks '69
Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy
Metavante Corporation

Sydney Smith Hicks ’69 is Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy for Metavante Corporation in Dallas, Texas. Metavante offers banking and payment technology solutions to financial services firms and businesses worldwide. Hicks is a senior executive with expertise in strategic planning, economic forecasting, and new product marketing. Her accomplished career also includes work with VECTORsgi, Inc., NationsBank, and the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas and in St. Louis. Hicks received her BA in Economics from Cornell College, and an MA and Ph.D. in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis.

Hicks' 4-day visit included a pizza dinner with Economics and Business students, a reception for women entrepreneurs, visits to the Money & Banking course in economics and business as well as a Programming Language course in computer science, and an evening of s'mores with Kappa Theta actives. While on campus, Dr. Hicks also gave a public lecture on "Strategic Planning and Business: Taking Time for the Future."

Visit date: May 15-18, 2006


Jason Kolowski '98
New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

Jason Kolowski '98 is a forensic scientist with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City. Kolowski has extensive experience working in forensic biology and with mitochondrial DNA. As a medical examiner in New York City, he was intimately involved with forensic recovery efforts with the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and with the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in Queens. Kolowski is also often called to testify as an expert witness in criminal court investigations.

During his week-long stay at Cornell, Kolowski served as a guest lecturer in a Chemistry course on forensic science team-taught by Professors Teague and Liberko. As part of the course, he accompanied students on a field trip to the state of Iowa's crime laboratory in Ankeny. Kolowski also shared his insights into careers in forensic science during an afternoon reception and gave a public lecture entitled "Aftermath: Forensic Science and the 2001 New York City Disasters."

Kolowski's visit was co-sponsored by Dimensions: The Center for the Science and Culture of Healthcare and the Department of Chemistry.

Visit date: May 22-26, 2006

Jan Thomas

Jan Thomas '80
Associate Professor of Sociology
Kenyon College

A sociology major at Cornell, Dr. Thomas went on to receive M.A. degree in social services administration at the University of Chicago and Ph.D. degree in sociology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her research areas encompass issues about gender, inequalities, health and illness, family, social movements, and women sociologists.

During her visit to campus, Dr. Thomas presented her scholarly insights into social policy and maternity care in Sweden in her talk, ""What if social policy were based on equity?: The case of maternity care in Sweden." She also offered guest lectures in Medical Anthropology, Introduction to Women's Studies, and in Sociological Perspectives: Structure, Diversity, and Interaction. Receptions with students and faculty in the sociology as well as in women's studies also allowed Dr. Thomas to become engaged with the Cornell community.

Visit date: March 21-23, 2007

Steve Grummon

Stephen Grummon '69
Director of the Office of Near East and South Asian Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Stephen Grummon is the director of the Office of Near East and South Asian Affairs in the Bureau of Intelligence Research at the U.S. Department of State. A history major at Cornell, Grummon went on to serve in the Peace Corps in Iran and then pursued his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Grummon has also served as the director for Persian Gulf/South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, member of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State, and has worked in the Office of Counter Terrorism.

While on campus, Dr. Grummon delivered a public lecture entitled "Foreign Policy and Analysis: Career Reflections and the Cornell Linkage." He also visited two courses in the politics department--an introductory class and U.S. Foreign Policy. As part of his visit Dr. Grummon met with current members of his undergraduate fraternity, Alpha Chi Epsilon, and was the featured guest at a reception on career opportunities in the intelligence community and at the U.S. Department of State.

Visit date: March 20-21, 2007


Ralph "Chris" Christoffersen '59
Morgenthaler Ventures

Ralph “Chris” Christoffersen is general partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, a venture capital firm in Boulder, Colorado. After receiving a Cornell degree in chemistry and mathematics in 1959, he completed a doctorate in physical chemistry at Indiana University and served on the chemistry faculty and in academic affairs administration at the University of Kansas. He was president of Colorado State for two years before joining the pharmaceutical industry in 1983, first as a senior researcher at The Upjohn Co. and SmithKline Beecham, and then as CEO of Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals. He moved to Morgenthaler Ventures in 2001.

Dr. Christoffersen spent two days on campus visiting with students in Economics and Business, Chemistry, and Biology. His public lecture, "Biotechnolgy as the Next U.S. Economic Driver," offered insight into the rapid growth of the biotechnology industry and its impact on the global economy.

Visit date: November 8-10, 2006

Mike Boock

Michael Boock '82
Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Legal Service, Northwest

Captain Boock received his BA, cum laude, from Cornell College in 1982 and his JD, with distinction, from the University of Iowa in 1985.  He was commissioned in the Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps in 1985 and his first assignment was to Naval Legal Service Office, Corpus Christi, where he served as Senior Defense Counsel. He later attended the University of Washington, where he received a LLM in Law and Marine Affairs in 1997 and in 2004 received a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies from the College of Naval Warfare. Captain Boock's career in the Judge Advocate General's Corps includes service as Deputy Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Navy for International and Operational Law, Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Senior Military Assistant and Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, and as an Adjunct Faculty of George Washington University Law School.

Captain Boock's visit included a visit to an International Politics course, dinner with his fraternity Mu Lambda Sigma, and a public lecture on ""Old Laws/New Wars: International Law for the International Fight Against Terrorism." His visit was co-sponsored by the Berry Center for Economics, Business, and Public Policy.

Visit date: December 10-11, 2007

Mary Ann Lyman-Hager

Mary Ann Lyman-Hager '68
Director of the Language Acquisition Resource Center and Professor of French
San Diego State University

Dr. Mary Ann Lyman-Hager is Director of the Language Acquisition Resource Center, a National Language Resource Center, and Professor of French at San Diego State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from The University of Idaho (Moscow), a M.Ed. in Education from the University of Idaho, an M.A. in French from University of Arizona in Tucson, and a B.A. in French from Cornell College. Before coming to San Diego State, she served as Director of Instructional Technology for the College of Liberal Arts at the Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA), where she was an Associate Professor of French and Supervisor of Intermediate level undergraduate French language instruction. Dr. Lyman-Hager is an expert in the emerging field of language acquisition and technology, with a special interest in electronic (digital) reading practices in a foreign language.

Her visit to Cornell included interactions with students in an Intermediate French course, a French seminar, and a Foundations of Education course. Her public lecture, "Strategic Languages and Language Policy: The 'Language du Jour' Phenomenon" engaged the audience in conversation about the role of language in society.

Visit date: January 17-18, 2008

Mark Weston

Mark Weston '74
Education Strategist, Dell

Since leaving the Hilltop, Mark's experience--in classrooms, board rooms, policy arenas, and research circles--has led him to recognize that the current system seems to do a good job of educating some students.  An increasing amount of longitudinal evidence indicates that system is unlikely to be transformed to educate all students. So after 34 years doing "clean-up work" in the current system Mark is engaged in "revolutionary work" for establishing an alternate system with the capacity for educating all students to dramatically high levels of learning.

Mr. Weston's public lecture, "One Flea Can Worry the Whole Dog" focused on the need for educational reform in the United States and proposed a model of self-organizing schools as a possible solution. Throughout his visit, he was engaged in a variety of education-related conversations with education majors and faculty, as well as education alumni now teaching in the Greater Cornell area.

Visit date: April 23-24, 2008

David Klaus

David Klaus '67
Lead Human Resources Specialist, World Bank

David Klaus '67 was employed by the World Bank from September of 1973 through December of 2001, at which point he became a consultant to World Bank and to Mahidol University of Bangkok, Thailand and the Linguapax Institute, a branch of UNESCXO, in Barcelona, Spain.  While employed by the World Bank, he held several positions, including as Lead Human Resources Specialist, Human Development Sector Unit East Asia and Pacific Region.  With the World Bank, he has visited or lived in Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Viet Nam, Brazil, Zaire, Rwanda, Burundi, and Lesotho.  Many of his projects include introducing the use of national languages in primary education.

Klaus graduated from Cornell College in 1967 with a BA in Religion and a minor in French.  His passion for languages led him to study French language and literature at the Université de Dijon in France , German language and literature at the Goethe-Institut in Germany, and Theology, Latin and ancient Greek at the Universität Zürich in Switzerland before entering the Peace Corps.  In 1973, he obtained a Master's of Public and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.

Mr. Klaus gave lectures in a Macroeconomics Seminar and in the U.S. Foreign Policy Course.  He also participated in a discussion of William Easterly's The White Man's Burden with the Berry Center's spring reading group.  He lunched on pizza with faculty and students and presented a public lecture entitled, "The Use of Indigenous Languages in Early Basic Education in Papua New Guinea: A Model for Elsewhere?" Mr. Klaus' visit was co-sponsored by the Berry Center for Economics, Business, and Public Policy

Visit date: April 28-29, 2008

Thomas Mikelson

Thomas Mikelson '58
Minister Emeritus, First Parish and First Church
Past Visiting Lecturer in Ministry at Harvard Divinity School

Mikelson, a 1958 graduate of Cornell College, was the parish minister at First Parish and First Church in Cambridge, Mass., from 1989 to 2006, and he continues on as minister emeritus. He was also a visiting lecturer at Harvard Divinity School, where he earned his Doctorate of Theology, and at the University of Iowa. Mikelson has also been awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Award, granted by the Progressive National Baptist Convention and was the Minns Lecturer in 1993-94, where he delivered six lectures on King, Jr.

During the course of his visit, Dr. Mikelson gave two public lectures on liberation theology: "Black Liberation Theology in the USA: Martin Luther King, Jr. to James Cone" and "Celam, Pope John 23, Gustavo Gutierrez, and Monsenor Oscar Romero: The Beginnings of Latin American Liberation Theology." He spent time in the Chaplain's religion course, Suffering and the Sacred, as well as in an introductory course in sociology, Sociological Perspectives: Structure, Diversity, and Interaction. A highlight of his visit for students was an extensive dinner conversation about careers in theology and social justice.

The visit was co-sponsored by the Chaplain's Office.

Visit date: February 3-5, 2009

Jerry Hildebrand

Jerry Hildebrand '64
Executive Director, Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship
University of the Pacific

Jerry Hildebrand is the first director of the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of the Pacific. Previously, Jerry was the CEO for 17 years of the Katalysis Partnership, a microfinance organization that provides training, technical assistance, and credit to non-governmental microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Central America (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador). Prior to Katalysis, Jerry was the regional field director for International Voluntary Services, based on the island of Antigua, where he directed a socio-economic development program on ten newly independent island-nations in the Eastern Caribbean. His work in grassroots economic development started in Appalachia (West Virginia coal mining region) where he worked for 10 years to develop and direct the first rural Economic Development Corporation in the U.S. to finance community-based business enterprises in a chronically depressed region of the U.S.

Mr. Hildebrand's visit provided insight into the world of microfinance through an interactive workshop, course visits to an International Economic Seminar and in an introductory sociology course, as well as in his public talk, "A New Generation of Social Change Agents." While on campus, he was engaged in conversations about entrepreneurship programs, dined with active members of his fraternity Alpha Chi Epsilon, and enlightened students during a career in social entrepreneurship luncheon.

Mr. Hildebrand's visit was co-sponsored by the Berry Center for Economics, Business, and Public Policy and by the Project on Civic Engagement.

Visit date: March 11-13, 2009

Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis '59
Professor Emeritus of Sociology
Kent State University

Dr. Jerry M. Lewis is professor emeritus of sociology at Kent State University. He obtained his bachelor's degree from Cornell College, his master's degree from Boston University, and his doctoral degree from the University of Illinois. Dr. Lewis was a witness to the shootings of May 4th, 1970, and he has since been involved in researching, memorializing, and lecturing about this tragic event. He has been interviewed numerous times by the local and national media about the shootings. Dr. Lewis is also an international authority on sports fan violence in the United States and Europe.

Dr. Lewis' visit to Cornell during the Homecoming week will include interactions with students in sociology and kinesiology, a public lecture "Remember University Trauma: The Kent State Case," a careers in sociology luncheon, and hands-on workshops.

Visit date: October 5-7, 2009

Laura Arnold

Laura Arnold '04
HarperCollins Children's Books

Visit date: November 9-10, 2009

Laura Arnold is an editor with HarperCollins Children's Books, where she edits a full range from picture books through novels for teens, with an emphasis on middle-grade novels and chapter books. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell with a degree in English in 2004, she attended the Columbia Publishing Course and began her career at John Wiley & Sons. In 2005 she moved to Harper--home of classics including Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte's Web, and Little House on the Prairie--where she has worked ever since.

Arnold's visit to Cornell included a panel discussion, "Publishing Demystified: An Author-Editor Dialogue" with distinguished visitor professor Sarah Prineas and a "Careers in Publishing" luncheon.

Visit date: November 8-10, 2009

James Hurst

James Hurst '62
Professor of Chemistry
Washington State University

Professor Hurst, a graduate of Cornell College (Mt. Vernon, Iowa), received his Ph.D. degree in Physical Inorganic Chemistry from Stanford University. His thesis advisor was the Nobel laureate Henry Taube. Following three additional years study with Gordon Hammes at Cornell University as a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, he joined the faculty at the Oregon Graduate Institute for Science and Technology (then the Oregon Graduate Center). In 1993 he became a member of the chemistry faculty at WSU. He has also held the position of Visiting Scientist at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and is presently an adjunct faculty member of the WSU Biochemistry Department.

Dr. Hurst's research involves characterizing the oxidative chemistry of living cells and in mimicking essential cellular functions using simpler organized chemical systems.

While on campus, Dr. Hurst offered remarks on "The Experiment No One Wants to Do: How Chemists View Global Warming”, facilitated a workshop entitled “Approaches to Direct Solar Photo Conversion”, and gave advice to students in a "Careers in Chemistry" dinner.

Visit date: March 2010

Jeffrey McCune '99

Jeffrey McCune '99
Assistant Professor, American Studies and Women's Studies
University of Maryland

Jeffrey McCune holds a joint appointment as Assistant Professor in the American Studies and  Women's Studies departments and is a faculty affiliate in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies program. Prior to coming to the University of Maryland, he was the postdoctoral fellow at the University of Rochester's Frederick Douglass Institute and a faculty associate in the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies. He received his PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University in 2007.

Dr. McCune's writings include "Transformance: Reading the Gospel in Drag" published in the Journal of Homosexuality (2004) and a book manuscript currently under review, entitled "Quaring" the Closet: Black Masculinity and the Politics of Sexual Passing. This manuscript maps the evolution of "Down Low" (DL) men who traditionally identify as "straight" while having sex with other men and refuse to employ the standardized descriptors of sexual identity. His major areas of research include popular culture, critical race/gender/sexuality theory, masculinities, whiteness studies, and 20th century African American literature and culture.  

Dr. McCune's campus visit included a public lecture, "Between Hip-Hop and a Hard Place", a performance of his one-man show, “See-Saw: An (im)Balance of Identities”, a workshop on "Hip-Hop Culture and Performance", a reception with the Women's Studies faculty and students.

Visit date: April 13-15, 2010

Stephen Grummon Stephen Grummon '69
International Affairs Consultant

Stephen Grummon currently serves as an international affairs consultant after retiring from a distinguished career with the U.S. Department of State. He is a 1969 graduate of Cornell College, served in the Peace Corps in Iran from 1970 to 1972, and earned his doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Grummon's experience at the State Department includes service as the director of the Office of Near East and South Asian Affairs in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, a member of the Policy Planning Staff, and work in the Office of Counter Terrorism. He has also served as a director for Persian Gulf/South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council.

Dr. Grummon has been a scholar-in-residence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow at the Asia Society. Throughout his career, Dr. Grummon has received numerous awards recognizing his outstanding professional achievements including three Senior Executive Service Performance awards and several Superior Honor Awards from the Department of State. In 2009, Dr. Grummon received Cornell College's Distinguished Achievement Award, the highest joint honor awarded by the college and Alumni Association.

During his visit to Cornell, Dr. Grummon presented a workshop on "Perception and Misperception in US-Iranian Relations," delivered a public lecture on "The Iranian Nuclear Dilemma: Options and Consequences," shared his insights as Peace Corps volunteer over lunch with students, and offered advice to students interested in "Careers in Foreign Policy." Dr. Grummon was also a featured lecturer throughout the week in Professor Robert Givens's "The U.S. and the Modern Middle East" course in the history department.

Visit date: October 10-16, 2010

Lois Hetland

Lois Hetland '75
Professor of Art Education
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Dr. Lois Hetland is an Professor of Art Education at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and is a Research Associate at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research in cognitive and developmental psychology focuses on issues of learning, teaching, and disciplinary understanding, with an emphasis in the arts. She teaches undergraduates and graduate students, and she facilitates professional development for educators in both face to face and online contexts.

Currently, Dr. Hetland teaches undergraduate and graduate students who are seeking certification in art teaching at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and she consults in the US and abroad on teaching and learning in the arts with an emphasis on understanding. Two long-term consulting relationships have been with a consortium of International Schools in Northern Europe and with an association of independent schools in the San Francisco Bay area. From 1996-2005, Lois was the Educational Chair of Project Zero's annual summer institute, and, between 2000 and 20006 she has authored and taught online courses on Teaching for Understanding and the Dimensions of Understanding on Harvard's WIDE platform (Worldwide Interactive Development for Educators).

Dr. Hetland is a 1975 graduate of Cornell College with a degree in Art and in Music. She taught elementary and middle school for 17 years and earned her Ed.M and Ed.D in cognitive and developmental psychology from Harvard's Graduate School of Education, where she focused on quantitative and qualitative methodologies, research synthesis, and arts learning and education.

Professor Hetland's visit to Cornell included a workshop on "What is Understanding?", a public lecture on "Who Needs Art Education Now?", and dined with students for a Careers in the Art Education dinner.

Visit date: October 13-16, 2010

Zackaree Kelin

Zackaree Kelin '01
Kelin Law Firm

Before founding the Kelin Law Firm, Zackeree S. Kelin was a managing attorney for DNA-Peoples Legal Services, Inc. ("DNA"), the oldest and largest poverty law program in Indian Country. His work at DNA focused on representing indigent clients, tribes and non-profits before tribal, state, and federal courts and various administrative and legislative bodies in the areas of poverty law, Indian law, sacred sites protection, and environmental law. While in law school, Zackeree clerked for the Native American Rights Fund and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. He is also a graduate of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, a member of the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Bar Association's Indian Law Section, and served as an advisor on the Native American Domestic Policy Committee for the Obama Campaign.

He was recently awarded the National Center for American Indian Economic Development's "Native American 40 under 40," an award given to emerging and existing Native American leaders for their contributions to Indian Country. He is also "Of Counsel" for the Stetson Law Offices, P.C.. Zackeree is a member of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma and resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Kelin's visit to Cornell included a public lecture,"The San Francisco Peaks Case: Protecting Sacred Lands Through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act," a workshop on "The Use of Psychodrama in Trial Work, i.e. Discovering the Story," and a "Careers in Law" dinner with the Cornell's Pre-Law Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.

Visit date: November 10-12, 2010

Jeffrey Wallman

Jeffrey Wallman '76
Assistant Professor of Marketing
University of Oklahoma

Jeffrey Wallman is an assistant professor of marketing at the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma. Professor Wallman's teaching interests are in the areas of new product development, marketing management and marketing strategy. His research interests are in the areas of entrepreneurship, marketing management and marketing strategy.

Prior to working in academia, he worked as a management consultant for the MAC group and Management Horizons, Division of Price Waterhouse LLP and later owned his own consulting practice. He also worked as a vice-president/general manager for a division of Louis Dreyfus Corporation, a subsidiary of the Louis Dreyfus Group. Professor Wallman earned his Bachelor of Special Studies degree in history and politics from Cornell College in 1976, his master’s in management from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, and his Ph.D. in marketing at the University of Wisconsin.

Professor Wallman's visit included a public lecture, "How To Become A Master Of Change In A Turbulent Environment”, a workshop on "The Rules Of Marketing Yourself, Your Company Or Your Cause", and dinner with students about "Careers in Marketing."

Visit date: May 15-17, 2011