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Cornell Universe

Cornell Universe

Endowed scholarship challenge launched

When it comes to upholding Cornell University's commitment to financial aid for "any person … any study," Cornellians are always ready for a challenge, according to Fred Van Sickle, vice president for alumni affairs and development.

"They consistently make all the difference for the university," he said.

"Any person ... any study" motto by Myron Taylor Hall archway. See larger image

At the start of 2017, Cornell launched a fundraising challenge aimed at creating up to 100 new endowed scholarships, totaling an estimated $25 million, for aid-eligible undergraduates, professional school students, and graduate school students on the Ithaca campus and at Cornell Tech.

Gifts of $200,000 or more (payable within five years) will be matched 1 to 4.

A $200,000 gift, for example, will be increased by $50,000 in matching funds. (A $5 million unrestricted bequest from the late Craig Voorhees '49 – a benefactor of scholarships – made the match possible.)

Barbara Knuth, senior vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, emphasizes that matching funds provide immediate aid while the endowment grows as a permanent source of support.

"It will enable Cornell to live true in perpetuity to our founder's vision of enabling qualified students to attend Cornell, no matter their family's financial circumstances," she says.

To date, 30 donors have committed nearly $6 million to the endowed scholarship challenge, and almost $1.5 million in challenge funds have been awarded.

For more information about the challenge, visit or contact Allison D. Riley '84 at or 607-254-7158.

Thank you, volunteers!

Alumni, parents and friends who volunteer find plenty of company supporting students, raising dollars, and coming together for work and service to the Cornell community and the world. Volunteers promote scores of regional events and connect virtually as well – such as through the 547 volunteers who are part of CornellSocial. Every year, parents step forward, too: in 2017, Parents Committee members numbered 141, with 73 couples.

Cornell volunteers at CALC.

Cornell volunteers at CALC. See larger image

The first half of the calendar year, in particular, bursts with volunteer activity and awards. The Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference in February was followed by the board of trustees election season, when all alumni can vote for alumni-elected members. The Parents Committee met April 21-22 and the board of trustees is holding spring meetings in May. During National Volunteer Week, April 23-29, Cornell thanked all volunteers near and far and announced winners of the Cornell Alumni Association Cup and the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award.

Discover how to volunteer for Cornell through CUVolunteer, an online portal that finds opportunities tailored to your interests, skills, time available and location.

Recommended read: Cornell Alumni Magazine

Covers of recent Cornell Alumni Magazine issues.

Covers of recent Cornell Alumni Magazine issues. See larger image

An off-Broadway actress who's played the same role for 30 years – missing a grand total of four performances. A former NYPD undercover narcotics detective turned M.D.-Ph.D. student. A sophomore history major whose political activism has made her a lightning rod on campus and beyond. They're just a few of the Cornellians featured in Cornell Alumni Magazine's current issue.

There's also a lighthearted look at a particularly endearing way in which some Cornellians have shown their Big Red pride. After hearing about a couple of canines named Ezra, the editors asked alumni to share their university-inspired pet names. From dogs and cats to turtles and fish, Cornellians eagerly sent photos of a menagerie of animals (and some human offspring) that included Lynahs, Baileys, Marthas, Sages – and even a Ruth "Barker" Ginsburg.

Cornell Alumni Magazine – which recently won a national award for its March/April 2016 cover – was founded by alumni in 1899 and has been an independent source of university news ever since. Subscribe at

A shout-out to Pete and the Souvlaki House

Amid the many warm anecdotes and Cornell memories H. Fisk Johnson shared at a university celebration early this year, one stood out as a reminder of the particular power of culinary memory and the importance of sustenance.

Speakers at the Jan. 31 celebration thanked Johnson '79, M.Eng. '80, M.S. '82, MBA '84, Ph.D. '86, and SC Johnson, the family company he leads, for the $150 million founding gift that endowed the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (see photo, p. 42). Interim President Hunter Rawlings, President Emeritus Frank H.T. Rhodes and Soumitra Dutta, dean of the new college, addressed the packed Statler Auditorium crowd.

Peter Papachryssanthou, retired owner of the Souvlaki House.

Peter Papachryssanthou, retired owner of the Souvlaki House. See larger image

When Johnson stepped to the lectern, he called out a number of people in the room: members of his family, the SC Johnson team, friends, several past teachers and the "whole slate of fraternity brothers" from Chi Psi who came in a show of friendship and support.

And then he drew the audience's attention to Peter Papachryssanthou, retired owner of the Souvlaki House, seated prominently in the front row.

Johnson said: "Then there is Pete – I think I ate 14 or 15 meals a week at Pete's restaurant, the Souvlaki House, and I want to thank Pete for his incredible friendship over the years.

"Let's hear it for Pete and the Souvlaki House! Stand up, Pete!" Johnson continued, leading the Statler Auditorium audience in a round of applause.

Then he leaned close to the microphone.

"I highly recommend the large Greek salad with extra feta," he said, to a wave of laughter.

Bringing out the Dead

Cornell '77 book cover.

Cornell '77 book cover.

The Grateful Dead's May 8, 1977, Barton Hall concert, legendary among fans and tape traders for decades, is seeing its first commercial release May 5 as a digital download and as three-CD and five-LP sets, "Cornell 5/8/77."

In April, Cornell University Press published "Cornell '77: The Music, the Myth and the Magnificence of the Grateful Dead's Concert at Barton Hall" by Peter Conners. The book was included in Rhino Records' limited-edition, 11-disc "May '77" deluxe box set (which sold out in pre-orders) of the Cornell concert and three others from the same week on the band's "Terrapin Station" tour.

The Cornell Chimes also has scheduled a 30-minute Grateful Dead set at 6 p.m. May 8 this year to celebrate the concert's 40th anniversary. (Fun fact: The concert was added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2011.)

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