DAVID SKORTON: I'm David Skorton, President of Cornell University. Ratan Tata has made an enormous difference in Cornell University.
RATAN TATA: When I went out for an interview it was a glorious spring day, and it seemed that was where I wanted to go to school. My first trip to the United States was when I was 11 years old or so, when a friend of my father invited me to come and stay with them, he, at that time, was the Deputy Secretary of the United Nations. And I spent a month at that time with him and his family in Long Island, which is where the UN was, Lake Success, I think, before it moved into New York.
And it was as though I had always been here. It was a strange thing. I had absolutely no sense of having to adapt. And that reinforced a view that this is where I wanted to go to college.
I came to the United States to do my college board exams at Riverdale Country School. Riverdale was, in fact, when I was there, both a day school and a boarding school. They had fairly large international student body. The college boards were not given in India at that time, and there was no other way you could enter undergraduate university from India.
And had it been possible that day that I could have applied from India, I may not have gone to Cornell. Another factor that led to Cornell was people who were close to my father, Ted and Sylvia Vinnicombe, who in many ways in those early years were like my surrogate parents, the husband had been at the Cornell Hotel School. And in fact, when I was at Riverdale, I was up at various hotel meetings where he took me along. And I think deep down inside, although he never pushed me, I think he wanted very much for me to go to Cornell.
He was the vice president in McCormick and Company, the spice and tea company in Baltimore. And in fact, that was like a home to me. That's where I went on Thanksgiving or Easter vacation. And I learned so much about how to wash dishes, how to make my bed, and all those things with Ed and Sylvia at that time.
I learned to drive in Baltimore. My first driver's license was a Maryland driver's license, and so on and so forth. With great, I would say apprehension, and yet great enthusiasm, I arrived at Cornell from India. I had gone home for the summer vacation from Riverdale. I turned up at University Hall number 6, which is where I was assigned.
But the room was very pleasant, and I still remember maybe a few minutes or a few hours after I checked in and unpacked, this person came in and introduced himself as my dorm councilor, Dick Barger, in the Hotel School. And then over and over that time, both as a dorm counselor and progressively as a friend, we got to know each other.
DICK BARGER: As part of my time in Cornell, for two years I was a dorm counselor in the men's dorms, which is a combination of policeman and helper, beginning in the fall of 1955. One of the single rooms right next to mine became occupied by Ratan Tata.
RATAN TATA: That first week was a scary week. All of us had to wear these little red pea caps with '59 written on them. So those early days were very difficult days. I wrote more letters home and during that year than I did at any other time.
So when one was homesick, it really meant you were cut off from home. There was a phone in the corridor, or otherwise I think there was a payphone downstairs in the dorms which you'd have to use, and that was it.
DICK BARGER: In the middle of the fall of the year, his father, Naval Tata, came to Cornell on a visit, which he managed I think came about every three or four months during that year that I was there. During the visit in the fall from Naval Tata, who happened to be either president or chairman of the International Labor Organization, which was an outgrowth of League of Nations, and took him around the world the years that I knew him, at least.
He said, you know, Dick, you've got to come to India. And I said, oh, wouldn't that be fun. He said, I'm serious. I want you to come to India and I want to show you India as a way of thanking you for being so nice to my son. And so I asked Tom Merryweather from Akron and Bob Gerhardt from Philadelphia, and the three of us were the guests of the family, and resided in Tata house, which was their private home right in the downtown part of Bombay, and presided over by Lady Tata, who was his grandmother, who was one of the most glorious, lovely women I've ever met in my life.
It was her home, and she treated us like preferred guests. I mean, being a hotel student, I kind of noticed that.
RATAN TATA: I was admitted in mechanical engineering, to some extent because my father wanted me to be an engineer. And I really didn't enjoy mechanical engineering. On the one hand I did, because there were many things in engineering that I did and still do enjoy. But on the other hand, there were many other things that I didn't. I had always wanted to be an architect, and at the end of my second year at Cornell I switched, much to my father's consternation and upset.
KEN KEOUGHAN: His dad wanted him to be an engineer. And the reason that his dad wanted to be an engineer was, after World War II, and I don't know exactly how long after, but after World War II his father had invited the Kaiser Corps of engineers to come visit the iron and steel works.
And his father was vastly impressed. So his father wanted him his own son, Ratan, to be an engineer. I can understand that. I've been a father. On the other hand, Ratan wanted to be an architect.
RATAN TATA: I just found it everything that I had hoped that it would be. How does architecture really equip you to be in business? And I have found that that's all business is. You have a problem conveyed to you, you to creatively think of solutions. All the miles of tracing paper that all of us wasted in one concept after another did one thing. It taught us that we didn't stick with one thing. We tried and we tried and we improved and we reconceived what we had to do.
It's no different in business. If your mind doesn't think that way, go down one track and I found very, very many times that that training has helped me. If I've been able to do anything in the product area, it's because I have worked with materials I can interact with design engineers, in terms of telling that there's a problem in this corner-- how will you deal with this?
And then finally, you have to have somewhat of an aesthetic eye to be able to think of what people will-- how they will like the product you have or whatever you've done, all of which goes back to what we studied in those five years.
STUART CARTER: And so he took the work seriously and did a good job. And projects rewarded, and indeed, he was at a high level in the class, a member of the honoraries, well-respected in terms of as a person and a designer.
BOB ALLEN: Ratan was very good. He would have been a terrific architect. He would have had an incredibly successful architecture practice if that's what he did.
JOE SANTAMARIA: The thing I remember about Ratan's thesis project was that it was done very much in the le Corbusier style, was I believe a high rise office building that turned out very nicely. I Ratan was a very good architectural designer. And as I recall, Ratan got a commended grade on the project under the old Bosart System.
JACK SQUIER: Ratan took to this immediately-- it was a very, very quick study-- and had excellent taste and good design sense, and fell right into this group, although he had been working as an engineer for two or three years. And he incidentally, over the years, I've had a lot of good students come from engineering to take courses. As one of them once said, I took on engineering so I could build things, and all I've done is draw and do mathematics.
He got along awfully well with other people. He was well liked, and just generally started to show all the symptoms of becoming a very effective, very productive person. He was just a kid.
RATAN TATA: You know, the end of your freshman year, everybody got all rushed to join a fraternity. Joining a fraternity made you feel that you belonged somewhere to a smaller group. I think the important thing is you became a part of a smaller ecosystem.
GOLLIE ROOT: One of the things that we were expected to do as pledges is to pull a raid on the fraternity house. And so one night we went there-- I say night, it about 2:00, 3:00 in the morning-- and son of a gun, somebody was reading a magazine in the library. And it was Ratan Tata.
So we had to kidnap him. So we had to tie him up. I don't remember what we did to him. I'm sure we didn't ask for a ransom or anything like that, but he was a brother. And we were pledges.
This is my pledge paddle, and all of us in my year had to make a paddle. On the back, everybody at the time that could, signed. And so all my pledge brothers signed at the bottom, and then different brothers signed at the top. And I do have Ratan Tata's name there, I'm pleased to say.
JAY PINCHBECK: We met Ratan when we were pledging, and I remember in 1957 his father came to New York City. And while he was there he came up to Ithaca to visit Ratan at the fraternity. And the fraternity kind of went all out, wanting to be spit and polish.
And the fraternity at large, oval table where the officers sat at dinner. And I can still remember Ratan's father sitting there for dinner.
JOHN PINCHBECK: I guess I enjoyed being in Alpha Sigma Phi very much. It was a great fraternity, nice bunch of fellows. And we all get along very well, and Ratan certainly was part of that. Had great parties, and I was steward for the house for a while, and we did hopefully have some good meals. Nobody died of food poisoning. So it was good for me, and I enjoyed it very much. And it was a nice way to socialize and get to know some people. And the girls were great, too.
JAY PINCHBECK: In the spring of '58, I was having difficulty with a course, a very high course. I think it was plant physiology. And Ratan helped me reorganize my study hours during the week and helped me spend the proper amount of time on all my courses, which brought all of my marks up. And I'll be forever grateful to him for that.
JOE SANTAMARIA: A bunch of us got together to decide to have a pledge raid on the house, with various things to wake up the brotherhood and send the message. So late, very late one night, had a raid on the house. The brotherhood woke up, came tumbling downstairs and this big rumble ensued. And finally we were outnumbered by the actives living in the house, and they had us subdued. So the usual calisthenics followed and then we had to clean up the house.
And later, on our way back to university halls, Bob Allen made the comment, boy, that Tata was everywhere. I guess Tata had just wrestled him to the ground and subdued him. And it must have been-- course he either has or had very good reflexes, and must have known something about martial arts, because he had no trouble subduing Bob Allen and probably several other people, too.
PORUS OLPADWALA: It was September of 2002. So we took him to the fraternity, Rockledge. It was a little before noon. We rang the doorbell. There was no one there.
A work person came out of a side entrance and said, you can get in through here. So we went in, looked around the building, and Ratan was really, really happy. We were looking at his old fraternity, and especially looking at all the pictures. On the way out, a young man came in and looked at us very suspiciously, because we were three strangers.
Turned out he was the president of the fraternity. So I introduced myself, saying, I was dean of architecture, and here was an alumnus of my college and his fraternity, Mr. Tata. The young man looks at him, extends his hand and says, oh, Ratan! So clearly, I guess, I'm not a fraternity person, but brothers are schooled about who the great alumni are. So they've been taught about Tata.
RATAN TATA: After living two years in the fraternity, I moved to an apartment downtown in Ithaca.
KEN KEOUGHAN: And Ratan decided he would like to be my roommate, got his stuff and began moving in. And he got all moved in. I said, OK, now we better go to the grocery store. And Ratan looked at me like I was nuts. He said, grocery store? I said, yeah. He said, I don't go to grocery stores.
I said, you don't, huh? Well, in that case, you don't eat. Because we're going to have to get groceries in this place to feed you. And if you're not going to participate in purchasing them, you're not going to have any to eat.
And one of the things that we used to do that I thought was a lot of fun-- he did too-- was we would, Saturday morning, we had a little bit of loose time, and so we would have coffee and toast. And he and I would do what we call a "giant toastathons." And we could just sit and pop toast down, and eat 2/3 of a loaf, 1/2 a loaf, most of a loaf of bread, two of us just sitting there, talking, and drinking coffee and eating toast.
JOE SANTAMARIA: 113 West Lincoln Street was down the hill from the University and just south of the south end of Cayuga Lake. And this was a small house. There was an apartment upstairs, an apartment downstairs. Bob Allen and Ratan lived upstairs, Bruce Herbert and I lived downstairs. We were all members of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity.
Bruce had this obnoxious theater organ record that he delighted in playing very loudly. So one night in the dark Ratan time came down while Bruce was playing that, and grabbed Bruce's record off of that, switched it out with his own record and broke the other record to pieces. And we didn't quite know what had happened then until Ratan pointed out that that was another record that he had brought downstairs.
RATAN TATA: Never did get used to the cold at Cornell. I couldn't ever feel warm enough. The first day I saw snow I spent the whole day out in the snow. I thought it was fantastic. That ended very fast. And then snow meant trudging with wet shoes and sitting in hot classes with water melting, and it meant sliding up and down those slopes next to the gorge when you went for lunch, you went up to class.
And I vowed that I would never live in a cold climate again. I went skiing once in my life with my roommate, Ken Keoughan, because he became an avid skier. And I spent most of that afternoon on my backside, sliding down, having fallen.
KEN KEOUGHAN: And there's Ratan with my skis. And I'd asked him to hang on to them. And he was hanging on to them. And he had them up in front of him like this, and when I looked closely there was something going on. And what he had done was he had stuck his tongue to the steel edge of the ski, and it was stuck. It took us a little time and ingenuity, but we got his tongue unstuck and without injury.
CHRIS WILLIAMS: Ratan's relationship to cold was a I hate-hate relationship. He was very much a warm climate kind of person, I think. Another memory I have is actually having Ratan come to my house. And it was a early American, authentic, center chimney colonial that had yet to see any insulation, and it was in the dead of winter.
So he stayed there that night, and Ratan told me that that sleep over we had that weekend was probably the coldest night in bed he'd ever spent, because it was a very classic New England thing. Maybe he learned a little bit about the American frontier from that experience himself. I don't know.
RATAN TATA: In those days, the foreign exchange is very difficult to come by, and the Reserve Bank of India would allocate a certain amount of dollars for your studies. I remember that amount was like $180 a month. And there used to be times when you get very close to the wire, and the check would be delayed coming in or something would happen.
And there were a couple of times I actually, with great humiliation, had to go and ask my friends if they could lend me $100 to get over time till my check came or something. So it was very tough. I used to supplement this by washing planes at the airport or washing planes so that I could get flying time, and things of this nature that I did.
LEO SAHAKIAN: I related to him in a lot of different ways, but I guess one of them was the fact that we were both foreign students at that time. I remember at one time somebody told me that Ratan has got a pair of cuff links, and for some reason it's stuck in my mind that it was like ruby cuff links.
And because foreign students at that time lived on a limited budget, when you get your money you have to live with it and make it last. And sometimes it wasn't easy to transfer money. So the bottom line was that Ratan was short of cash, and he had a pair of cuff links, and he wanted to sell it. And the idea was that if I would be interested, well, I had my limitations, too.
The bottom line is, I didn't get the cuff links. Now I'm looking back and I'm thinking, you know what? I wish I had gotten those cufflinks, because after 50 years, boy, that must have a real sentimental value to him, that he was short of cash, he needs money, he has to sell his cuff links. And if I could have held on to that and sent it back after 50 years, say to Ratan, that this is a gift after 50 years. I'm sure it has a very sentimental value for you.
JOE SANTAMARIA: We all spent many long hours into the night in Sibley Hall in the drafting rooms. And so every now and then we needed a break. And one of the things that Ratan brought to the whole thing was the hand slapping game. And it goes like this: one person puts his hands out, the other puts his hands on them, and then the whole idea is to see how quick you can slap the other person, or they can move their hands.
Well, Ratan has incredibly good reflexes, and just used to beat the heck out of everybody else when he was the person with his hands underneath.
BOB ALLEN: Ratan-- if you wonder why I have such small, shriveled hands, it's because they got beaten to death all those years when we did it. Ratan was just really good at it.
RATAN TATA: I came back just for the few days of graduation. And I didn't need to, but I thought that graduating from an American university, I should come and wear the cap and gown and go through whatever there was. So I came back. And it was quite a memorable occasion, and nice to say the final goodbye, or bye-bye to the people you've been through so much of life with for five years.
When I did get a car, it was, by college standards, quite a fancy car. Because it was a little black Mercedes, and probably the blackest Mercedes in Ithaca, because I really looked after.
BOB ALLEN: He didn't have money to buy a car, but the family had a joint venture with Mercedes building trucks in India. So I can't remember what year, junior senior year, they got a small Mercedes shipped to him from Germany, which of course, we were all just, wow.
RATAN TATA: Because I had this black Mercedes, it lent itself to the image of being a limousine.
BOB ALLEN: Particularly after he got his Mercedes, he kept bugging all of us. He wanted to act like he was the chauffeur, and he even got this little blue chauffeur's cap.
JACK SQUIER: Oh, when Ratan was a student, I had a convertible Jaguar that he seemed to like. So we would talk occasionally about sports cars, because he had quite an interest in sports cars.
RATAN TATA: And so I went up to him and I said, sir, I apologize for intruding on you, but how do you keep your car so well in the wintertime with all the salt, et cetera, on the road? Because I said, I have a Mercedes, and I'm deadly afraid of it rusting.
JACK SQUIER: The answer for me was very simple. I put it in storage in Dean's Warehouse for the winter, and bought an old junker to go with my regular car.
RATAN TATA: And he said, you know what I do, is I'd buy a clunker every wintertime, and I put my car up on blocks, and at the end of the winter I take it down. That's how I keep my car the way it is. And he said, you won't lose very much money on it. You buy it and you can resell it in the spring for almost the same amount. And that's what I went and did.
GOLLIE ROOT: Ratan Tata was the first person that I ever knew about my age that had two cars.
CHRIS WILLIAMS: His car was like this black this black, onyx gem. And it was meant to be treated as such.
SAM BODMAN: Ratan had a used Mercedes Benz. I had never seen a Mercedes Benz before. And Ratan was very particular about how you closed the door on the Mercedes Benz. In those days, I was partial to Ford Motor Company products. And this was in the '50s. And in those days, you really slammed the Ford door shut to make sure that it was shut. That was part of the drill.
And boy, when I turned around and I slammed that door of that Mercedes, Ratan got quite upset about that. And said, a Mercedes, you really close the door. You don't slam it.
CHRIS WILLIAMS: If you slammed the door, you were persona non grata.
BOB ALLEN: When he got this car, I still remember we pulled into the driveway at the fraternity house, and a steep hill down, and he asked everybody to get out, which others did too with their cars. And I was sitting in the front seat, I got out, and I did what anybody does with a car. They slam the door at the time, because the latches didn't work.
And you'd think I had killed somebody. Don't slam the door! And after that, once we all got used to the idea we're not supposed to slam the door, still, when you go to get out of the car, before you get, don't slam the door. And somebody new would get in, the uninitiated, and get Ratan's wrath over slamming the door. We all laughed about it all the time. We'd start saying to him when he'd get out of the car, Ratan, don't slam the door.
RATAN TATA: All the time I had it, I didn't even have a flat tire on it. I never changed a tire, nothing. A few things happened to the engine which I fixed myself. I sold my car to I think another architect.
STUART CARTER: He said, I have a car. It's a Mercedes sedan. And if you're interested, I have to sell it. So if you need a car, you can get a good price. So he offered to show it to me, and I said fine. And we went down and it was late winter. And he had it stored in a little garage.
It was jacked up on concrete blocks so that the tires would be preserved. It was stored so it wouldn't be damaged by the salt heavily used on Ithaca the roads. And all the fluids had been drained. It was in perfect, pristine condition.
RATAN TATA: And I sold him this pristine car, I think someone called Newman.
MICHAEL NEWMAN: And I remember so well in January of 1962, Ratan Tata came into the drafting room, into the architectural drafting room. And there were several of us working there. And he said, anybody want to buy my car?
And somebody said, well, how much do you want for it? And he said, $300. And everybody said, wow, that's a lot of money. And I thought, you know, that's really a pretty good deal. And so I went to Ratan and I said, you know, I might be interested in your car and I'd like to see it.
And he showed me the car and it was in mint condition. He took very good care of it. And so I didn't have $300 either, but I managed to borrow it from my fiance, and paid Ratan $300, and off I went on my honeymoon in my $300 black Mercedes.
RATAN TATA: Flying was my love and joy. I started flying when I was 14 in India, and I could not solo because I was underage. Flying has a lot of crazy things. I went to summer school one year, and I wish every year at Cornell was like summer school, because it was a lovely time of the year. Very difficult to remain in class. There's only design, so you are on your own for most part. You could work in the night and be in the lake in the daytime or do what you wanted. That was a lovely time to fly also. So it was a great summer.
There used to be a little airport downtown, next to the lake. That's where I took flying lessons. That's where I soloed. And I flew there for a period of time, and then towards the latter part I moved to the bigger airport, Tompkins County Airport. Oh, I used to often try to get some of my classmates to come up and savor the enjoyment or excitement of flying. At times I used to try to scare some of them, but most of the time it was just to give them another vista and often to have them share the cost of flying for me.
BOB FOX: One day, Ratan invited me to go flying with him, because he had to put in a certain number of hours in order to get a certain level of pilot's license. So we went flying and went out to the airport, and went flying. And it was terrific, first time I'd ever been in a small plane and had this wonderful feeling. And he was a very serious pilot, and really dedicated to being a better pilot.
And we did stalls, which just terrified me doing a stall, which is taking the plane up to a certain climbing altitude till the engine stops, and because of the weight in these small planes-- it's all in the engine in the front-- the plane goes, boop, very, very quickly. That was one of the scarier moments of my life.
BOB ALLEN: Ratan's father was coming in to town on business, and he wanted to fly down to meet him. So we took a tri-pacer, which was a single engine four seat plane, very small, very lightweight. And his instructor was named Adrian Bewley. And there was Ratan in the front seat, obviously, doing some of the flying. And in the back seat was Fred Klein and myself.
FRED KLEIN: We went down to New York to meet Ratan's father.
BOB ALLEN: We go through the landing pattern routine, and we're on our way down to the runway, all of a sudden the speaker in the plane goes, idlewild, tower, this is-- I don't know what it was-- TBA, DC 7b, there's a tri pacer in my path. And we all go like that, looking out back.
And here was this huge airplane. It was a pretty big airplane at that time, just enormous plane, what looked like right behind us. And very calmly, the tower said, DC 7b, move left to runway 2a, or whatever it was. And were going, ahhh, and land, and then in a little plane in that size airport, you can't see where you have to go.
FRED KLEIN: They finally told us to just stop, and finally a follow me truck met us and got us back to the gate.
RATAN TATA: After that, I decided not to go into airports like Kennedy.
MOISES BENCHOAM: I remember that day, and we were in the drafting room working on our architectural project. And Ratan asked if anybody wanted to take a break and go fly with. Charlie Green, Nan Otteson, and myself took his offer. And pretty soon, we were far above Cayuga's quarters enjoying beautiful scenery from a rented tri-pacer, single engine plane.
NANNETTE OTTERSON: Mo and I were in the rear seats, and Charlie was in the co-pilot position. When we got up over Sibley, Tata said, oh, look at the dome. There's Sibley's dome, where we all should have been.
RATAN TATA: And the next moment, it seemed like the whole plane was shaking itself apart, and then the prop stopped, and I realized we had no engine. There was dead silence outside the plain, inside the plane, too.
MOISES BENCHOAM: I didn't know what was going on. I just saw Ratan moving levers and trying to control the plain. And when I leaned forward to see what was going on, I saw the propeller, that it was frozen.
RATAN TATA: I decided that I would try to land on the first place I saw, which was the practice field next to the stadium. And then I realized that all these people were practicing for the football game, and I'd come in and kill them all because there was no sound. So then I decided I'd try to make the airport.
MOISES BENCHOAM: And I remember Ratan turning back to us and saying that we were high enough to make a forced landing at the runway in the airport. I turned towards Nan, and I saw her sinking as far as she could into her seat. And I didn't get scared. I just wanted to see what Ratan was going to do.
NANETTE OTTERSON: And then I heard him make the mayday call, and then I knew we were really in trouble. And then all of a sudden, I saw the tree line coming up, and I looked over at Mo Benchoam, and he looked at me. We didn't say a word. Neither did Charlie Green. But I was sure we were going to end up in the trees.
And then all of a sudden, we came down and we were at the airport. It was a miracle.
RATAN TATA: And I made the airport, but the wrong side of the airport. And I know there's a Mohawk airlines plane coming in the other way, and I flicked on my landing lights and landed. He went around, and I made probably the best landing I've ever made, and rolled onto the taxiway, turned off the runway, and then got everybody to get out and push the plane. Because there was no engine. And we had this big Mohawk plane behind us, sort of bearing down on us, trying to get us out of the way. Because he had to go around and come back.
MOISES BENCHOAM: Ratan asked the guy in the control tower why he hadn't answered his calls. And the guy said that he had gone out for a coke. So then he went to the guy he rented the airplane from, and he said that if he wanted his plane back, he had to get it at the end of the runway. And the guy just said, well, that's better than fishing it out of Cayuga Lake.
RATAN TATA: For many years I had this piston with a hole in it sitting on my desk.
NANNETTE OTTERSON: And I was very grateful for Tata's calmness in the situation, and his skill in getting us all down. And I thanked him very much for this.
RATAN TATA: I thought a gift that would enable young Indian students to have an education at Cornell was an important thing. And to have Cornell have more Indian students who applied but didn't have finances would be a good thing, both for Cornell and for India.
SAM BODMAN: As a member of this administration, and in particular working on energy issues, we have had a lot of activity, and I've had a lot of opportunity to talk with Ratan in particular about the evolving cooperative relationship on civil nuclear power that we have had between the US government and the Indian government.
BOB FOX: One of the most notable ones was when Ratan was given an award by Aubrun University, and the location of it was the UN. It was incredibly special. The person who gave him the award was Henry Kissinger, and Henry Kissinger spoke eloquently about his entire career and what it had meant and what a real statesman he has been. And that was just-- for me, that was just-- I was so thrilled to be there.
CARL WEISBROD: And I know Ratan Tata because we served together for more than a decade on the Ford Foundation Board of Directors. He is a man of extraordinary humility and humanity. When Ratan would talk to and interject at a directors' meeting, he was always listened to very closely.
MICHAEL CHIU: I came to know Ratan Tata when he was invited to join the board of trustees at Cornell. And he's a gentleman of few words. He's out there, he's listening, and when he says something, he says it with a great deal of forethought and pragmatism.
What he has done for the university with this great gift of $50 million towards research and toward scholarship is just a wonderful thing.
ANDREW TISCH: I know Ratan first from his reputation, from having read about him all these years, from having seen articles about him, and realizing this was a person who, in business, I really admired. Having joined the Cornell board and then having him join a year later, I got to meet him in person, and really came to admire him even more. Not just for his overall accomplishments, but also for the fact that here is a person who is a citizen of the world, but he's also a citizen for Cornell.
I admire him very much for his generosity and having just given what was one of the largest gifts in the history of the university, I am very happy to have him and at least many more behind him taught me, so that my gift will get lower on the charts in terms of the size.
DAVID SKORTON: Ratan has taught me the importance of Cornell for the people of India. He is very interested in the light being shined on the people behind him who are getting the work done. And so I think he reminds us to be more humble, and to keep our eye on the goal, and not in the mirror.
I took my first trip to India in January of '07 under the guidance of Ratan Tata. Ratan played an enormous role in preparing me for the trip. Ratan opened many doors for us in India, and with him we spent 90 minutes with Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India. I am honored to be Ratan's student of India.
RATAN TATA: Getting through Cornell gave you a sense of achievement. You made a lot of good friends. Those years at Cornell were probably the best investment that one could have made in time.
FRED KLEIN: I had a chance to visit Tata in Bombay. And I just had a wonderful time there in Bombay for a week or so, mid-summer of-- geez, that was '61. I found a couple of letters that I'd written to Tata. Really, Ratan, I don't know how a foreigner, or rather a westerner, could face Bombay straight off an airplane without friends in the city. And believe me, I do appreciate having been in your hands, so to speak.
I can assure you that I verily strut about with my new raw silk jacket. Davy-- his tailor-- did a real nice job on it, and thanks a lot for arranging for it to be at the Bombay International Airport to meet me.
[? BOB ALLEN: ?] I just considered him a pal.
SAM BODMAN: He's still my friend, and always will be.
JACK SQUIER: I have great memories. And he was one of the highlights of my time at Cornell.
KEN KEOUGHAN: There are a few people in my world that I think of as friends and always will think of as friends, and not friends that went away. Just friends, people that I am close to that I was soul mate with, and he's one.
BOB FOX: I feel very lucky to know Ratan Tata. And I know him at only a friendship level. And there can be years between times that we get together, and it doesn't seem to matter.
CHRIS WILLLIAMS: Ratan Tata's-- I'm proud to say he's a friend of mine. He's shared an ability with me about friendship. It was that willingness to be a good friend with people right from the heart when you're with them. And then if you miss them and don't see them for months, you can pick right up where you left off.
JAY PINCHBECK: Having met a good many special people throughout my life, he's a very special person. I know. I can tell. And even when way, way back there in Alpha Sigma Phi, I could tell that he was a very special person.
PORUS OLPADWALA: He's always been a real gung ho Cornellian. I mean, from the day I met him. The charm of Ratan is not only that he is this world famous gent, but he's a real Mensch.
BOB ALLEN: The memories from Cornell have and will stick with me forever. Ratan's a friend and always will be.
STUART CARTER: We lived together in the Sibley Hall from the crack of dawn to midnight when they kicked us out. And so we were all really family, and I felt we were all close friends.
LEO SAHAKIAN: You almost, over the period of years, you become like a little family. When you do projects, when you do over nights, and then you spend time together, everybody's sort of like, clings together. He was an architectural student, somebody who lived just like anyone else over there.
Now he is, oh, my god, he's on top of the world. But it's the same old Ratan Tata. Same all Ratan Tata.
BOB ALLEN: He had a great sense of humor, and he liked joking about himself. He'd joke about his name. His way of saying goodbye-- ta-ta.
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This documentary features Cornell College of Architecture graduate Ratan Tata '59, BArch '62, chairman of Tata Sons, India's premier conglomerate.
Created in honor of Tata's 50th Reunion in June 2009, this memory piece tells the story of Tata's years on the hill from 1955-1962 using vintage photos along with interviews of 22 other Cornellians, mostly fraternity brothers and architecture classmates.
The video concentrates on the influence Cornell had on Tata while he was a student. He describes his early days on campus and why he selected Cornell and architecture. He and the others interviewed recall experiences from his undergraduate years in the fraternity, downtown apartment living, handling the Ithaca weather, the challenges of being a foreign student, flying in the single-engine Tri-Pacer, as well as the care he took of his black Mercedes. There is also a section with interviews of fellow Cornell Trustees and the Cornell President which explores the tremendous influence Ratan Tata has on present-day Cornell.
Produced by Phil ('62, B.Arch. '64) and Maddy ('65) Handler, Fly on the Wall Productions.