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Robert Harrison elected next chair of Cornell's board

Trustee Robert S. Harrison '76 (at left in photo), chief executive officer of the Clinton Global Initiative, was elected chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees at the board's March 11 meeting in Ithaca. Harrison has been a student trustee, a Rhodes scholar, a lawyer and a managing director of The Goldman Sachs Group.

Harrison's two-and-a-half-year term begins Jan. 1, 2012, when he will succeed Peter C. Meinig '61 (at right in photo). The board also extended Meinig's term to the end of the year.

"This is a tremendous honor. This is really quite an amazing circle closed for me, and I'm very honored and privileged," Harrison said. Said Meinig: "Bob has demonstrated his capability for many years on the board."

President David Skorton noted that Harrison had "successfully helped lead the board through the economic crisis of the last two years, and he has played a critical role in bringing our Ithaca and New York City campuses together." He thanked Meinig for his two terms of service as chair and for the critical work yet to be done under his leadership. Meinig has been a member of the board since 1991 and has served as chair since 2002.

Harrison is a major Cornell benefactor, endowing the directorship of the Institute for the Social Sciences in 2005 and the Hans Bethe House's Dale R. Corson House Professor-Deanship in 2009.


Living wage apparel: Sweatshirts without sweatshops

All too often, collegiate apparel is manufactured by overworked employees laboring in poor working conditions for well below poverty-level wages. That is changing, and Cornell is part of that change.

Last November the Cornell Store introduced the Alta Gracia line of tees and hoodies. Alta Gracia apparel ( is manufactured in the Dominican Republic by workers who earn nearly three-and-a-half times the average hourly wage in that country. Cornell's is one of more than 350 college stores carrying the line.

"Alta Gracia apparel means freedom from poverty through job creation, living wages and education," says Joe Bozich, CEO of Knights Apparel, who founded Alta Gracia.

Photo: Joyce Jones, clothing manager at the Cornell Store, looks over the Alta Gracia apparel. The sign reads, "With every purchase, you are supporting a better life for our community."


Doctorow's 'Homer & Langley' for reading project

Summer reading for new students entering Cornell in the fall will include E.L. Doctorow's most recent novel, "Homer & Langley," Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Laura Brown announced.

The 2009 novel is a fictional recreation of the lives of the Collyer brothers, whose story became a New York urban legend that, in Doctorow's words, "seemed ... a Satanic mockery of what we all stand for." After their parents' deaths in the flu pandemic of 1918, Homer and Langley create a world of their own within the family mansion on Fifth Avenue, apart from but intimately and paradoxically connected with events of 20th-century American history. The real brothers died in 1947; in the novel they live through the 1970s.

"'Homer & Langley' is an interesting choice, first because it is based on a real New York story and thus raises issues about fictionalizing the news," said Charlotte Rosen, Johnson School senior lecturer of management and a member of the selection committee. "I believe that a community read should reflect something about belonging to (or rejecting) a community, and this thread runs throughout the brothers' tale."

The reading project, now in its 11th year, is supported by a website with a blog and other resources at


Spanish immersion

Alexandra Migoya's first encounter with Don Quixote was as an undergraduate in Goldwin Smith Hall; nearly two decades later, she co-founded Isabella & Ferdinand Spanish Language Adventures (, a Spanish language learning program for children.

The curriculum stresses learning the language while experiencing art, music, literature and the culture of the Spanish-speaking world.

Migoya '93 (on left in photo; her father is from Spain; her mother, from the Dominican Republic) is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and previously worked as a corporate lawyer; she also is a prize-winning author of short fiction related to Latin American culture.

Cornell "was the setting where I was able to really deepen my passion for Latin American and Spanish literature as well as my passion for education overall," says Migoya, who founded the program in 2009 with Pilar O'Leary (on right in photo), a former Georgetown classmate.

Isabella & Ferdinand is releasing its first CD, "Ole & Play! The Songs of Isabella & Ferdinand Spanish Language Adventures" on April 19 (just a few days before Cervantes Day, April 23, in Spain and Latin America).

Migoya notes that after Mandarin Chinese, Spanish is spoken by more people across the world than any other language. "This is a language of beauty, of excellence – of heroes, of people who contributed to global society," she says.


Alums garner Oscars, Sundance prize

David Seidler '59 has won an Academy Award for his original screenplay of "The King's Speech."

"The King's Speech" won the best picture, best actor, best director and best original screenplay Oscars Feb. 27. At 73, Seidler is the oldest person to ever win the award in his category.

Seidler shared citizenship – and a stutter – with reluctant monarch George VI (known in the family as Bertie), who had no choice but to take the throne when his brother abdicated. Seidler always wanted to tell the story of how Bertie overcame his stammer with speech therapist Lionel Logue, and after many colorful decades he returned to the idea in 1982. The Queen Mother, Bertie's widow, asked Seidler to wait until after her death to write about her husband. She died in 2002.

Two other Cornellians walked away with Oscar gold: Ryan Silbert '02, for producing "God of Love," the Best Live Action Short Film; and Chris Allen '94 won a technical achievement Oscar for helping to develop software for movie making.

Also in film award news, "Hell and Back Again," a documentary directed by Danfung Dennis '05, won the World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary and the World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

The film tells the story of U.S. Marine Nathan Harris and follows him from the start of his 2009 Afghanistan tour to his return and rehabilitation in the United States.


Happy 50th, Olin

At 7:50 a.m. Monday, Feb. 6, 1961, John M. Olin Library opened its doors for the first time.

Fifty years later, much has changed. Computers and study spaces have replaced the massive card catalog; students can search for their own books in the stacks rather than waiting to be paged; circulation workers don't need punch cards; the first floor hosts a busy café instead of a smoking lounge. Olin has grown into a renowned research facility with world-class collections.

Olin Library will receive a round of applause during reunion festivities this spring: a major exhibition, online and in Olin and Uris libraries, as well as speakers and a birthday cake in Libe Café. Keep an eye on the library website,, and reunion listings.

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