To the moon

January 14, 2013

Dyer Brainerd Holmes ’43, NASA’s director of Manned Space Flight Programs in the early 1960s, died Jan. 11 in Memphis at age 91.

Holmes graduated from Cornell in 1943 in absentia while serving in the U.S. Navy. He designed missiles and radar systems at Bell Labs and RCA before joining NASA in 1961.

That same year President John F. Kennedy set the daunting goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth” before the end of the decade. Holmes’ two years at NASA were in the crucial early days of the manned space flight program. During his tenure, John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth and the Apollo program and the 1969 moon landing were developed.

Holmes appeared on the cover of Time magazine Aug. 10, 1962, for the cover story “Reaching for the Moon.”

Cuomo taps Skorton

January 11, 2013

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2013 State of the State address Jan. 9, he announced that he has asked President David Skorton to become an organizing member of the Innovation NY Network.

The state will provide incentives for commercialization and successful start-ups to remain in the state through the $50 million Innovation Venture Capital Fund. Support from the fund will help entrepreneurs make the transition from research to  market.

Brooklyn Venus

January 8, 2013

In 1912 The New York Times reported that 24-year-old Cornell “co-ed” Elsie Scheel of Brooklyn Heights was the “perfect woman” whose “very presence bespeaks perfect health.”

How standards of beauty have changed, the Times noted Jan.1: “At 5-foot-7 and 171 pounds, she would, by today’s medical standards, be clearly overweight. (Her body mass index was 27; 25 to 29.9 is overweight.)” (Scheel was invoked in connection with a new study that finds those at the lowest obesity level of 30 to 34.9 were not more likely to die than normal-weight people.)

Scheel “was a person who valued being active and athletic, had a strong and confident attitude, and, as a daughter of a doctor and a mother of a doctor, may have been steeped in healthy habits that were much more relevant to her survival than her weight,” the Times reports.

“I have eaten only what I want and when I wanted it,” Scheel told one newspaper.

Whether or not she was perfect, Elsie Scheel was hardy: she died three days before her 91st birthday in 1979.

Apocalypse, not so much

January 3, 2013

Watch chemistry professor David Collum – an expert on finance – give his annual financial year in review Dec. 21. Among other things, Collum covers the Mayan calendar, broken markets and broke students saddled with ever-increasing debt.

Sympathy for Newtown

December 19, 2012

In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Cornell’s caring community can help make a difference by sending sympathy cards.

If you are interested in writing a sympathy card, bring it to the drop box outside of 130 Day Hall, near the mailroom, until 4 p.m. Friday, Dec 21. A staff member is attending a candlelight vigil in Newtown on Christmas night and will deliver the cards.

The sympathy cards will go to those who have lost loved ones and to those who were affected by this tragedy like law enforcement, clergy and therapists. The  cards will convey words of encouragement and let them know they are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.

You can also donate candles for the vigils that will be happening in their area.

No. 2 Marine

December 18, 2012

U.S. Marine General John “Jay” Paxton ’73, M.Eng. ’74, received his fourth star and became assistant commandant of the Marine Corps Dec. 15 in a ceremony at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C.

According to Kevin Bruns ’79, president of the Cornell Delta Upsilon Association, about a dozen Cornellians, including nine Delta Upsilon alumni, were among the 200 attending the ceremony. Paxton’s wife, Debbie, is also a Cornellian (Class of 1975).

Bruns said that Paxton spoke at the ceremony about the four greatest influences on his life – one was his deep friendship with his DU brothers and his experience at “6 South Avenue” during his Cornell years. Paxton was president of DU, a member of the 1971 NCAA lacrosse championship team and also played football.

President Barack Obama nominated Paxton in October and his nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

- Joe Wilensky

When students drink

December 17, 2012

In their newest Forbes blog post, Cornell President David Skorton and American studies professor Glenn Altschuler look at binge drinking on campus. “… about 25 percent of college students report negative academic consequences of their drinking, including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall. The long-term effects include a higher risk of lifelong alcohol dependency than more temperate peers,” they write.

At Cornell, they write, “Knowing that students tend to overestimate their classmates’ alcohol intake, thus inflating the amount of alcohol they perceive as normal, we spread the word that the majority of Cornell students drink moderately or not at all. We restrict the availability of alcohol on university property. … We emphasize safety in messages that include explicit warnings against ‘chugging’ shots of hard liquor and advice on how to pace alcohol consumption during a social event. And we encourage students to seek help immediately when faced with an alcohol-related medical emergency.”

Cornell is participating in the National College Health Improvement Project’s Learning Collaborative on High Risk Drinking, which will gather data to develop tools to reduce high-risk drinking.

‘We ask that you consider a conversation with your son or daughter during the inter-session break. You might begin by sharing this blog. Or by asking open-ended questions. “What is there to do on campus at night?” “What do your friends do for fun?” The conversation might lead to some eye-opening revelations,” write Skorton and Altschuler.

Language of loss

December 7, 2012

Watch the new single, “Sign Language,” by Grammy-nominated alumni Kinetics & One Love who gave us “Graduation Song,” a hip-hop farewell to their alma mater, and “Airplanes” in 2010.

“Since then,” writes Jeremy “Kinetics” Dussolliet ’09, “I’ve continued to pursue music full-time, which has led me to tour around the country (and even to China) and release a full-length album with my writing partner Tim [One Love] Sommers ’10, which charted on both iTunes and Billboard… We recently released a music video entitled ‘Sign Language’ which touches upon the issue of teen suicide and was written in early 2010, partly triggered by the string of suicides at Cornell that winter.”

The duo began writing and producing music together after meeting at Cornell in 2007 and have written for Eminem, B.o.B and Nicki Minaj.

A gift to Sandy’s first responders

December 5, 2012

Howard Milstein ’73 donated $2.3 million to the FDNY Foundation and the New York City Police Foundation. His gift is earmarked for first responders whose homes have been damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Two thousand rescue workers will receive a check of $1,000 just in time for the holiday season.

“These are the people that risk their lives to save others. They get paid something but when your life is saved, it’s invaluable. And when they get devastated, nobody helps,” Milstein told the Wall Street Journal. “I thought the best thing to do in these circumstances is send money to the first responders. I hoped that this donation might well stimulate others into giving, and I know that that has been the case.”

Visit Cornell’s Disaster Relief and Outreach page.


Big questions

December 5, 2012

Cornell Hillel hosted its “Ask Big Questions Study Break: Cocoa, Cookies & Conversation” outside Olin Library Dec. 4. The event was moved outdoors to take advantage of the balmy weather. Ask Big Questions (ABQ) is an initiative of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. ABQ asks whether we can change the world through conversation and brings diverse college students together for conversations that help people understand themselves and others.

This month’s question: “What does the world need from you?”