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items arranged for photo shoot of Ezra cover

The collection of objects representing favorite Cornell things as they were arranged for photographing for this issue's Ezra cover.

A few of our favorite (Cornell) things

What is it about this 150-year-old, sprawling institution spanning several cities and a few continents that inspires such passion and love in so many people? The short answer: breathtaking natural spaces (gorges, running trails, campus architecture, nearby waterfalls and the Finger Lakes), accomplished, smart and kind people, and variety – in fields of study, fellow Cornellians and opportunity.

Setting out to discover what people love most about Cornell, we spoke to professors, lecturers, students, staff and alumni, in person and over the phone and via social media. Some found it difficult to name a favorite Cornell person. "I report to 13 deans," cautioned one staff member who shall remain anonymous, "so there's no way I'm answering that."

But most folks didn't hesitate when asked to name a favorite spot on campus, or an all-time most amazing class they'd ever taken. People were eager to wax poetic about the views from Libe Slope, the deep hush of the Law School library, the caring staff in Student and Academic Services or the brilliance of Cornell professors.

Very few people mentioned the long winters in Ithaca or final exams in Barton Hall.

Who is your favorite Cornellian? What's your favorite thing about the university, and your favorite campus location? Chime in at or on the Cornell University Alumni Association's Facebook page, where the conversation has already started.

Begin reading this package with "An interconnected Big Red chain" or see any of the related "favorite things" stories in the sidebar at left.

– reporting by Emily Sanders Hopkins, Kate Klein and Joe Wilensky

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