Memories, Music & More...
- The Cornell Hangovers (videos)
- Cornell Alma Mater (lyrics)
- We Didn't Go to Harvard (lyrics)
- "Living Together" (President Frank H. T. Rhodes)
The Cornell Hangovers
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Cornell Alma Mater
Far above Cayuga's waters,
With its waves of blue,
Stands our noble Alma Mater,
Glorious to view.
Lift the chorus, speed it onward,
Loud her praises tell;
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater!
Hail, all hail, Cornell!
Far above the busy humming
Of the bustling town,
Reared against the arch of heaven,
Looks she proudly down.
We Didn't Go to Harvard
by the Cayuga's Waiters
Dragon Day, Superman, Teagle Hall, Big Red Band, Frank Rhodes, The Ivy Room, too much beer, there goes my 'cume, Shadow Burger, Blue Light, DU won a Chi Psi fight, Roscoe Diner, Theory Center, puking in your dorm room.
Tracey Chapman, Synchrotron, Commons has a Benetton, Rockefeller, Autoteller, Fun in the Sun, Roy Hall, VBR, tapestries at Shalimar, Dunbar's, Ruloff's, Cornell Daily Sun.
Penn Sucks, so does Brown, Arts Quad has a shanty town, Baker Tower, Uris Hall, take a bus to Pyramid Mall. Co-op, stealing fruit, grossed out by the fork chute, freshman chicks party mix, look at all those bouncing...
Randy Stephens, Riley Robb, drive around in daddy's Saab, State Street Diner, Huey Lewis, Maxie had to go.
Kosher Dining, stacks at Olin, Taco Maker, Ides for bowling, North Campus, West Campus, Aggies learn to hoe.
Collegetown, Friday night, read a book by E.B. White, drive my roommate's car down to Wendy's SuperBar, Louie's Lunch, Mallard duck, wait in line at Hot Truck, spray painting, PEGS vandal, don't forget the FIGI scandal.
Course exchange, add/drop form, there's no drinking in the dorms, Dr. Ruth, Ed Meese, sign a real expensive lease, six o'clock, Bell Tower, get into an after-hours, fake I.D., take it away, What else do I have to say?
by Frank H. T. Rhodes, President Cornell University
As Prepared for Delivery At the 123rd Commencement Cornell University
May 26, 1991
Members of the Class of 1991; candidates for advanced degrees; parents, spouses, family and friends of the graduates; members of the Board of Trustees; Father Healy, our distinguished baccalaureate speaker; fellow members of the faculty and staff; honored guests:
Today is a great day for us all as we celebrate the success of the graduates in completing requirements for Cornell degrees. It's not always easy to say what accounts for success, but all of you have studied hard and worked hard, not simply in your courses, but as contributing members of the campus and the larger community. From the academic honors you've achieved, to the leader-ship and service you've provided; from the new playground structure you've built at Southside Community Center, to programs for housing the poor and feeding the homeless you've organized and carried through, to the victims of the recent cyclone in Bangladesh, whom students in the Bangladesh Students' Association even now are trying to help, you have made Cornell a better place to live, work, and study. Today we thank you, we congratulate you, and we salute you for that.
Of course, the graduates are not alone in their achievements. This morning I want to pay tribute to the other heroes of today's ceremony: the fathers, mothers, spouses and children of the graduates who have figured prominently in the students' success. Your families have been there when you needed them, not only with tuition checks, but also with chocolate chip cookies at exam time and words of support and encouragement when things looked most bleak.
That commitment to mutual support and encouragement was carried to new heights this year by members of the Reiser family: Raoul F. Reiser, husband, father, and all-but-dissertation Ph.D. in pathobiology; Ramona A. Reiser, wife, mother and master of professional studies in floriculture; Raoul F. Reiser II, son and bachelor of mechanical engineering. All have experienced simultaneous, inter-generational education at Cornell. All are participating in the ceremonies here today. And a fourth Reiser, daughter Laura, was in college at the same time, as an undergraduate at Beloit and now as a graduate student at Washington University. This morning I want to salute them all for the remarkable commitment to education and to each other that their achievement represents.
Most of us do not tell our families often enough how important they are. I want to do that this morning. On behalf of the graduates, let me say to their families, "We're proud of you. We're grateful to you. We love you."
Others, too, have helped the students on the long march to today. I want to acknowledge the contributions of each group by recognizing the members who are retiring or completing terms of service:
Completing terms of service on the Board of Trustees are Kenneth H. Blanchard, Joan Hartford Ferreira, Bernard W. Potter, Aubrey E. Robinson Jr., and Xenia Young. Retiring from the executive staff is Senior Provost Robert Barker, who will be returning to the faculty as the director of the new Center for the Environment. Retiring as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences is Geoffrey Chester. Retiring from the faculty are 27 individuals, who together have given 775 years of service to the University. Retiring from the staff are 159 individuals whose faithful service has made all the difference. We honored retiring faculty and staff members at the baccalaureate service earlier this morning, but I want to acknowledge their contributions here as well. The role of a commencement speaker is problematical. Yet, as I look back over the past several years, at all we have shared together during that time, I am struck by the rapidity and the scope of the changes that have taken place. During your time on the campus, we have seen the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, and with it, the end of the Cold War. And before we could fully comprehend the "peace dividend" to be gained from that, we found ourselves leading the first large-scale military offensive since Vietnam.
We have experienced together the longest-running peace-time economic expansion in history and a recession of at least moderate severity, although I cannot blame you if you would have preferred the order of those particular experiences to have been reversed. Even now, although many of you have jobs, others do not, and still others have had to settle for jobs that are far less remunerative than you once had hoped for. But even in a "normal" year not everyone has a job at graduation. Perhaps 20 percent of the graduates do not even start the job-hunting process until after their academic work is complete.
And, as I've talked with many of you this year, I have sensed a degree of resiliency, a willingness to accept letters of rejection simply as challenges to be overcome. I have sensed a determination to keep trying, with the knowledge and confidence that ultimately you will succeed.
But on this day of commencement, it is fair to ask, after all the time, all the money, all the hard work you have put forth over these past few years, how has Cornell prepared you for the changes that surely lie ahead?
A look at your transcripts provides a partial answer. The specific skills and broad perspective recorded there will be useful in any career. But perhaps the most significant benefit of your Cornell years is not recorded by the registrar or documented by credit hours: It is the way Cornell has prepared you to live, work and, most of all, to serve in a diverse community, for the campus is a microcosm of the larger world.
I realize that may sound hopelessly idealistic, for it cuts against the conventional wisdom just now. There was a cover story in Newsweek earlier this month on "The New Politics of Race," which gave a disturbing account of how both major parties and individual candidates are exploiting racial differences to serve their own political ends. The divisiveness extends, so we read, to college campuses: "Almost everyone, it seems, is mad about something: racial slurs, affirmative action, separatism, multiculturalism, or the tyranny of manners known as the PC ("politically correct") movement. The lofty notion of college campuses as havens of tolerance, free inquiry, and reasoned discourse seems as archaic as panty raids." The article goes on to paint a picture of hostility and intolerance such as the nation has not seen in many years.
I have some difficulty reconciling that view with my own observations of life on this campus day by day. I don't mean to suggest that we always agree on every subject, or even that we always take the same approach. We, too, have had our heated debates. We have had demonstrations, but that is not the whole story. Our demonstrations became dialogues in which true communication could take place.
There is on this campus a willingness to listen to each other, and not only to listen, but to hear and to try to understand what is being said. There is a belief that by participating in discussions of even the most sensitive issues in an atmosphere of tolerance, civility, and good will, we can develop an understanding of our differences while building on things we hold in common as Cornellians and as human beings.
We need to remind ourselves of the precious things we hold in common. You have been deprived il, growing up in this marvelous country or coming here to study at this remarkable university, you are ignorant of the classical and Judeo-Christian roots of their founding. That is why works such as Plato's Republic and the Magna Carta, The Federalist Papers and the writings of Edmund Burke are of enduring significance, not least in an era when democracy is gaining ground in a host of countries around the world.
But we live not only in a global village of bewildering allegiances, but in a multicultural nation, and while we shall never outgrow the teachings of Jesus and Moses, we need to learn also from Mohammed, Buddha, and Gandhi because the values for which they stood continue to motivate and inspire millions. Proud as we should be of our differences in heritage and commitment as a source of individual identity, there remains a level on which we need to function as a community if we are to survive. That may the toughest challenge facing our generation.
How can this living in harmony come about? Two weeks ago, as I pondered this question, I turned for help to those who graduated in an era of even greater turbulence and transition. I found three clues in the 25th Reunion Yearbook of the Cornell Class of 1966:
First was a retrospective recognition of the value of their Cornell years. Tom Jensen, now president of Jensen-Haslem Architects, put it this way: "Peter Kahn taught me to explore. John Reps taught me self-worth. Lee Hodgden excited me about design." Professors Kahn and Reps are now emeritus, but Lee Hodgden is still teaching, and perhaps has inspired some of you.
Here is discovery, not least discovery of self. Here is leadership, not through formal courses in the subject or passionate exhortations, but through patient example. Here is service expressed through excitement and excellence in professional practice, which is no less worthy than service in other spheres. Here are the three basic values for which Cornell has stood for 125 years, and which continue to inspire and motivate us today.
Job or not, with those three values you are rich beyond price. You have treasures of untold worth. All life is yours if -- if, and only if -- you add one more ingredient. But it is an ingredient that no college, not even Cornell, can supply, although it can encourage its development.
There are hints of that ingredient in the Class of '66 Yearbook as well. Nathaniel Pierce '66, a former protest leader who is now an Episcopal priest, writes that shortly after the old Barnes Library in Anabel Taylor Hall was converted into "The Commons," there was a showing of prints by Sister Corita Kent. The Rev. Jack Lewis arranged to purchase a set of four which said:
(A little) more careful
Than of everything
The second panel disappeared for a time last year, hidden behind the piano, it turns out, for several months, but three continued to hang on the wall proclaiming:
(A little) more careful
Than of everything
Nathaniel Pierce happened to come back to campus during that time and said to the student in charge of The Commons, "Something seems to be missing from that set of prints."
"Yes," the student agreed. "Something is missing, but I'm not sure what it is."
Something was missing, and you know what it is, for the prints now hang again in The Commons in the original grouping of four. This love has little to do with romance. Maybe we should even give it another name, but it does involve giving -- self-giving, going out of your way, making a difference. It means dealing with personal concerns and social implications. It involves personal effort and individual initiative.
"But how?" you say. "How can I love that offensive classmate? That arrogant oaf who snubbed me? That jerk who insulted me? Why should I?"
The answer to that is also in the Class of '66 Yearbook: an imperative recognition of relationships. Linda B. Miller, the class president, writes, "Cornell has become extended family to me..." So it is with you.
Like it or not, we are members of a single family. You can never divorce yourself from your parents. You have an obligation to honor them. You can live thousands of miles away from your siblings, but whether you are close to them or not, you are still your brother's keeper; you are your sister's guardian. And, like it or not, after four years of living here together, your classmates are also members of your larger family. That is why love is not only necessary, it is inescapable. It is owed. It is required. And you will gain from it far more than you give. It is the only thing that gives life meaning, and it is only through this inescapable love for one another that our commitment to discovery, leadership and service can achieve fulfillment and significance.
You graduate today to a new role as Cornellians. You take on the privileges and responsibilities of alumni. We need your support, your counsel and your understanding as we chart for Cornell the best path through turbulent times. I hope that you will come back to this lovely campus often, not only to rekindle old memories, but also to be a part of the continuing task: reinvigorating Cornell's commitment to discovery, leadership and service by your own interest, your example, and your love.
And I hope that when you come back for your own 25th reunion in 2016, it will be not simply to a campus, but as part of a nation living in harmony with itself, not splintered into dozens of separatist groups; a nation, not denying differences, not even just accepting them, but celebrating them and facing up to their implications; treasuring both the ancient ideals which brought our nation and our university into existence and which still sustain them, and those newer insights, from less familiar cultures and traditions, which renew them; enriched to the fullest by the multiracial and multicultural strands they embrace, and bound together by those basic qualities -- tolerance, openness, justice, generosity of spirit, and love -- that make us all human.
I hope that from the vantage point of 25 years, you, too, will be able to say: "Cornell taught me to explore. Cornell gave me self-worth. Cornell gave me excitement about my profession. Cornell showed me love was vital. Cornell proved to me that, in the end, we are all one family."
There is an old Gaelic blessing that, to me, seems to symbolize the continuing bonds between the alma mater and those who graduate today:
May the sun shine gently on your face;
May the wind be at your back;
May the road rise to meet you;
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand...
Until we meet again.
Men and women of the Cornell family: Good success. God speed.