I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I really enjoy living in the Alice Cook House. The walk to central campus(= classes) is much shorter than it was last year on North (despite having to walk up that darn hill every day)…plus, it’s brand new, spacious and clean. Arguably my favorite part of living in Cook is the programming–I’m never bored, as there’s always something interesting going on. It definitely has a more “academic” feel than North, e.g. there’s a program where a few esteemed Cornell professors/administrators are nominated as “Cook House fellows,” which essentially means that they often stop by/play a role in fostering the collegiate environment.
Take last Wednesday night, for example. I came back from my classes that day around 4:30, to see the tables all set up very fancily in the dining hall. I remembered it was “invite a professor night” at the house dinner, and my friends and I were very curious/excited to find out which House Fellow we were going to be dining with.
As we waited in line to be swiped in to the dining hall, we spotted Cornell Vice President Susan Murphy interacting with residents…and thought it was really cool to see her. To our surprise, she eagerly came up to us and invited us to eat at her table–and we graciously accepted!!
As we sat down, we were all curious to the tone that the meal would take. Should we act professional and serious, or act relaxed and casual? If I accidentally uttered the word ‘crap,’ would I be placed on academic probation? Nobody knew yet.
The short answer: VP MURPHY WAS AWESOME!! The second we started eating, she formed an instant bond with me and the 5 other students at the table. She was down-to-earth, and seemed genuinely curious about our lives–inquiring about our majors, hometowns, etc. We were curious about her life too–and she answered our questions about being a VP very casually. We all lingered around after dinner just to exchange funny Cornell anecdotes and jokes, and were sad to see the meal end.
I think it was halfway through the dinner, when I looked around the dining hall, that what was going on hit me–this was an UNBELIEVABLE OPPORTUNITY!! Here I was, sitting at a table with the VP of Cornell as she was talking/laughing with students like they were old friends. At the table next to me, one of the world’s leading spider biologists (Professor Linda Rayor) was doing the same thing with another group of students. At another table, esteemed history Professor Mary Beth Norton was doing the same thing. These brilliant scholars were not only willing to converse with students in a laid-back environment, but genuinely seemed to love doing so!
Having dinner with a vice president was also eye-opening, in the sense that it’s not hard to think of Cornell as a bureaucracy. You always read in the Sun that “the Cornell administration did this…” or “did that,” but it’s difficult to see what’s going on behind the scenes (e.g. in terms of making legislation). I learned first-hand that there are “real,” personable people working in Day Hall caring for students, and I’m not sure that’s something everyone gets to see. All in all, it was very enriching.
I’ve been told that sometimes the administration reads the Life on the Hill blogs…so VP Murphy, if you’re reading this, thanks for the great company!