[MUSIC PLAYING] COREY RYAN EARLE: Good morning, everyone. Hello. Welcome. We're going to get started, might be some late stragglers in here. But appreciate all of you braving the Ithaca weather to join us this morning. Hopefully you've been in Ithaca when we have some sunnier weather as well. It's not like this all the time. But we occasionally get that reputation.
So I'm glad to see you here. My name is Cory Ryan Earle, class of 2007. And I liked Cornell so much I never left after I graduated. And I'm still here, working at the university in several different roles. And I teach a class at Cornell on Cornell University history. And over the last decade, I've had over 400 students each spring semester take that class. So I give a lot of presentations like this on aspects of Cornell history. And today, we'll talk about some fun facts, some trivia, a little bit about what it means to be part of the Cornell family since all of you are part of the Cornell family. And we'll have some time for Q&A as well, if you have some questions afterwards.
So the class I teach is in the American Studies program in Arts and Sciences, called the First American University. And it normally looks like this. Over the last year and a half, it's looked a little bit more like this. I've been doing a lot of Zooming. So it's really good to be back in the classroom and seeing people's faces.
This is one of the first in-person lectures over the last year and a half. I've started giving a few of these again. And it's good to be back in front of people. But it's an adjustment too, still getting used to not just being on Zoom.
And so the number one thing of the 10 pieces of advice-- I mean, you're already breaking the rule. You're awake on a Saturday morning, a rainy Saturday. Cornellians sleep in on Saturdays. But I'm glad you braved the weather and the early morning to be here. A fun fact, you might not know, the term "power nap" was coined by a Cornellian. Cornellian James Moss, who spent his career on the faculty here, coined the term power nap, one of the foremost scholars and researchers on sleep. But we'll get to some other fun facts here.
So number 2, that Cornell was founded to be different. So I mentioned that the name of my course is the First American University. And it's about Cornell University. And so Cornell is obviously not the first university in America. So this is the interactivity part of this.
I'm going to ask you, what do you think-- why do you think Cornell has been called the first American university. Any guesses for why Cornell has been called that? Yeah.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] under British rule, maybe?
COREY RYAN EARLE: Others were under British rule. So Cornell was founded post-American Revolution. And many of our institutions were founded before that. Good guess. Yeah?
COREY RYAN EARLE: Yeah, so secular-- nonsectarian. Yes. So no religious affiliation, that's absolutely part of it.
Our peer institutions when Cornell was founded were almost entirely religiously influenced and governed institutions. And Cornell was nonsectarian. Great.
AUDIENCE: Any person, any study.
COREY RYAN EARLE: Any person, any study, that part of the motto, that very unique thing for 1865. Great answers. I'm impressed with all this participation in that before 9:00 AM. Normally, that doesn't happen in a classroom.
Any other guesses? These are all great.
So absolutely correct. Oh, was there a hand over there? No. OK.
So Cornell was founded to be different. And I think today we don't necessarily-- we take that for granted sometimes. We look at colleges and universities in the United States. And Cornell doesn't seem that different than many of our peer institutions. But when it was founded in 1865, it's hard to appreciate how different Cornell was when it began.
And so a lot of schools claim to be the first American university. And I often give a hard time to some of our peer institutions that make that claim. Harvard, of course, being the first university in America, I often train my students to boo or hiss when Harvard is mentioned.
University of Pennsylvania claims to be the first American university because Harvard was still called Harvard College when University of Pennsylvania was founded. They had university in their name. They also had some graduate programs before other schools. So they like to make that claim.
Yale claims they're the first American university because they gave the first PhD in the United States for a seven-page dissertation. And the quality of scholarship hasn't improved since then.
But Cornell, founded in 1865, much younger institution than these other institutions, and really founded to change higher education in the United States. And that's something that I don't think we should take for granted, that we should still appreciate today, how different Cornell was.
And the term "first American university" was coined by this guy. He was an educational historian from the College of William and Mary, Frederick Rudolph. And he called Cornell the first American university. And he was referring to some of these things that you mentioned.
Cornell was co-educational from the start. It was founded to be an institution where men and women could get a world class education. That was certainly not the case in the 1860s, at other institutions. It was nonsectarian. It didn't have a religious influence from the start.
It was a land grant institution, which has this idea of public engagement with it, the idea of taking knowledge and education and research and extending it to the community, to the state, to the global community. And that's a core part of Cornell's identity today, too.
A broad curriculum-- so it taught applied sciences alongside practical-- alongside a classical curriculum, the practical alongside the classical, so agriculture and engineering alongside literature and languages. And that was really unusual for the mid-19th century as well.
And then a diverse student body, that any person is part of Cornell's motto, something that was definitely not the case in higher education in the United States in the mid-19th century. And I'll touch it a little bit more on these as we go along today.
So the way I like to break it down for my students is you've got a bunch of old out-of-touch universities founded in the 1800s and 1700s. Cornell comes along in 1865 and really changes what higher education looks like in the United States. And all of the old out-of-touch universities end up becoming much more like Cornell over the next 150 years. But today, there's not as much distinction between a lot of these universities.
I won't name names. But Cornell's influence really shaped what higher education looks like in the US. And we should be proud of that as part of the Cornell family.
So my number 3 part of things you should as part of the Cornell family is that Cornell has a weird motto. And that's something else that we should really appreciate. If you look at some of our peer institutions, in their mottos, here are some examples. First of all, of the other Ivy League mottos are in Latin. So I've got the English translations here. But things like truth and light and truth, these sort of lofty mottos that you hear at other Ivy Leagues, a lot of them are about what is being taught, the idea of truth.
You see a lot of religious influence in many of our peer institutions mottos. You've got Dartmouth as kind of an outlier, a voice crying in the wilderness or the desert. Why you would want to go to a school with that as your motto, I mean it just doesn't seem that friendly to me. But I like to think Cornell's is a little friendlier, more welcoming motto.
So Cornell's motto, abbreviated to any person, any study. But the full version is, "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." And so unique, because it's in English first of all. But also unique because it's a full sentence. It's not just a short phrase. It stands out from the other mottos.
And it's phrased in a sort of weird way, I would found an institution. And students-- and Cornellians don't often think about why it's phrased that way today. But I think the thing to think about here is that it was aspirational. This was a goal. This was something that Cornell should always be striving toward, that we should be an institution where any person truly was welcome, where any study was welcome. And it was a goal that Cornell should always work toward, even today, that we should keep this in mind, and think about striving for any person, any study.
So a really unique model or really unusual motto for its time, absolutely. And something that really shapes Cornell's identity today and helps Cornell stand apart from our peers.
And so I break down "any person" into five different elements, that you can tell the founders were intentionally thinking about. When you read their writings and the remarks when Cornell was founded and the founding documents, there were five parts of any person that I think they were focused on.
And the most obvious one is socioeconomic status, class. Ezra Cornell, the founder of Cornell University, was a poor farmer, came from a very poor family, father was a potter and a farmer. And Ezra grew up close to poverty most of his life, until he eventually made his fortune. Does anyone know how Ezra Cornell made his fortune? We have any Cornell history experts here? No.
So he made his fortune in the telegraph industry. He got involved in this new communication technology. He was someone who saw the potential in it, invested in this new technology, was hired by Samuel Morse to be his assistant, and ended up being very successful in the telegraph took off as he'd taken his pay in stock. Became the largest shareholder of Western Union, this new company that combined a bunch of small telegraph companies. And Ezra made the fortune that founded Cornell. But he was thinking about, I want poor farmers from upstate New York, like myself, to get a world class education. That was a core component of what he meant by any person.
Another part of any person was gender. In the mid-19th century, higher education was wealthy white men for the most part, wealthy white Protestant men. And co-ed education, having men and women take classes together in the same classroom, at the same institution, very unusual. And the Cornell founders said, no, truly any person.
Religion was actually the most controversial part of Cornell's founding, something that we don't really think about today, that nonsectarian aspect of Cornell. But when Cornell was founded, this is the part that the most people were upset about. Cornell was called the godless institution and the heathens on the hill. Don't send your kid to Cornell. It will corrupt them because it doesn't have a religious influence at the school.
And Cornell's founders said no, we're not anti-religion. We're just open to any religion. We have a chapel on campus. So they built that very early on to show that. But another part of this any person motto that set Cornell apart.
Any nationality-- Cornell had international students from the very start, the first entering class; international faculty when it opened. And we were considered one of the most international universities in the 19th century for the number of international students. So Cornell truly was global from the beginning, and continues to pride itself on that today.
And then the fifth element of any person was race. Cornell was founded at the end of the American Civil War. Race is a hot topic in the United States at the time. And Cornell's founders very explicitly said, no, when we say any person, we mean any person. And students of color enrolled at Cornell within its second year that it was open, and continues to be part of that any person ethos today.
And so my next part of the Cornell identity is that Cornellians listen to their mom. This is family weekend. So this fact seemed particularly relevant.
So you might have a child who lives in Clara Dickson Hall, those of you who are parents, Clara Dickson Hall, one of the residence halls on North Campus. And what you might not know is that Clara Dickson Hall is named after the mother of one of Cornell's founders. Andrew Dickson White was Cornell's first president and really one of the co-designers of Cornell, really a co-founder involved in developing the curriculum, really believed in these values of any person in any study.
And when Cornell was founded, when he and Ezra Cornell got together to start this institution, Andrew Dickson White writes his mother a letter and says, we're going to start this new institution. It's going to be co-educational and nonsectarian. And we're going to teach any person in any study, all these pretty radical ideas for this new experiment.
And she writes back and says, "I'm not so sure about your other ideas, but as to the admission of women, you are right." So his mom was a big supporter of the co-ed education part of Cornell when he was explaining all these crazy ideas he was going to do at Cornell University. And so White agreed with her, listened to her. And Cornell was co-educational, admitted women. And other schools ended up following that model. Here's an early group of Cornell women in the 1880s.
And today, we don't appreciate how far ahead of some of our peers we were in terms of admitting women. Most of the Ivy League doesn't become fully co-educational until the 1970s. Columbia College, the undergraduate college at Columbia, doesn't admit women till 1983. That's not that long ago. And so it's hard to believe how controversial the idea of co-ed education was in the 1860s and 1870s.
The first woman enrolls at Cornell in 1870. Cornell had opened its doors first in 1868. So that gives you a little bit of an idea how far ahead of our time we were, at least compared to some of our peers.
Number 5, part of the Cornell identity-- and hopefully you'll have a chance to experience some of that this weekend-- is that Cornell is delicious. We've got a great history with food, and food innovation, and development. I hope you've been to the Dairy Bar while you were in town. Cornell has been making ice cream on campus since 1880. So ice cream goes back pretty far in Cornell's history, with the College of Agriculture producing ice cream.
Actually, there was a building right about where Bailey Hall is, the big auditorium right outside. That was the original Dairy Shack on campus, where ice cream was made in 1880, now out to the east of campus. So encourage you to check out the Dairy Bar and try some Cornell ice cream if you haven't yet.
But food-- a lot of different food products, Cornell has had a hand in. Students often ask me, what is the most important invention to come out of Cornell? And I usually point to the chicken nugget as perhaps the most influential invention to come out of Cornell University, developed by Cornellian named Bob Baker, Robert C. Baker, who is a Cornell alumnus.
And then joined the faculty and spent his career at Cornell in poultry science, and was sort of the George Washington Carver of chicken products, came up with a hundred different uses of chicken products, and turkey ham, and turkey hot dogs, and things like that, all developed by this Cornell professor. But the chicken nugget, probably the most influential and well-known to people today.
And, in fact, the entire fast food industry would be very different if it weren't for Cornell. Burger King, founded by two Cornellians from the Hotel School. Arby's, founded by a Cornellian from the Hotel School. Even Colonel Sanders of KFC, he came to Cornell after opening his first restaurant and took an eight-week course in the Hotel School because he wanted to go to the place with the best restaurant management program in the world. And so he came and enrolled at Cornell when he launched the KFC restaurant franchise.
Another Cornellian was the vice president of product development at McDonald's. And he developed the filet-o-fish sandwich. So you can thank Cornell for that. He also developed the Quarter Pounder with cheese and the McDonald's Apple pie. So really, the obesity epidemic in America can be blamed on Cornellians to some extent here.
But some less fast food items, too, Cornell has had an influence on. If you've ever had a Thanksgiving turkey, chances are you're having a turkey that was-- the species was bred at Cornell, that particular variety of turkey. The first broad-breasted, white turkey was developed at Cornell. That became sort of the standard for eating turkeys for Thanksgiving turkeys. That's Professor James Rice, who we have a building just to the east named Rice Hall after him, a professor of poultry science. So if you've had a Thanksgiving turkey, you might have had a Cornell influenced product as well.
Or if you've had potato chips-- because you might not know that the most popular chipping potato variety is called the Lamoka potato. And that was developed by Cornell researchers as well. So most of the potato chips you have are made from a potato that was developed here for its storage capabilities. It doesn't bruise as well, various things that it was bred for to make it successful as a chipping potato, the color, the flavor-- so another bit of a Cornell influence.
But we do healthy foods also. Apples-- Cornell has developed over 65 different apple varieties, the Cortland apple, the Empire apple, the Macoun apple. Some of the most popular apple varieties have been developed at Cornell.
And grape varieties as well-- over 35 or so different grape varieties I believe have come out of Cornell, a lot of popular Finger Lakes wine grapes. Hopefully, you've had some Finger Lakes wine. If not while you're here, but some other time.
And even blueberries have a Cornell connection. We might not be able to get blueberries in supermarkets if it weren't for a Cornellian, who was the first person to domesticate the blueberry. He figured out how to cultivate blueberries, and not just have them grown in the wild, and turned them into a successful crop nationwide. And so Frederick Coville, from the College of Agriculture, is the father of the modern blueberry. So a lot of different foods that have a Cornell connection.
And if you've ever had potstickers or stir fry, you can thank this Cornellian. This is a Cornellian from the class of 1914, Yuen Ren Chao. And he became a famous linguist, a father of modern Chinese linguistics.
But he and his wife wrote one of the first popular English language Chinese food cookbooks. And he had to come up with English terms for some traditional Chinese foods. So he coined the term "potsticker" and "stir fry" when writing this book. So if you've ever had some Chinese food, you might have a connection to this Cornellian in the class of 1914.
So number 6, Cornell is in Ithaca, not Iowa. Because you're here this weekend, I'm assuming you figured this one out, that you arrived in the right spot. Ithaca is an amazing place. And I hope you have a chance to explore the town. It's really a wonderful community here beyond the campus and an important part of Cornell's identity as well.
But I often like to tell the story of the other Cornell, which is Cornell College in Iowa. Have any of you heard of Cornell College, Iowa. I see some nodding heads.
And there's been a bit of a rivalry over the years between Cornell College and Cornell University and certainly some confusion between the two institutions by students, particularly in the pre-internet era. I feel like that could be a little more confusing for folks who couldn't just google and figured out the difference. And Cornell College is a few years older than Cornell University. They are named after different individuals, who I believe are third or fourth cousins, distantly related didn't really know each other, no connection there.
But my favorite part of this story is, first of all, if you go to Cornell College's website you can find a page called. We're Not In Ithaca, where a very important part of their identity is not being in Ithaca, while an important part of ours is that we are in Ithaca. And they have a whole page on their website that explains the differences between Cornell College and Cornell University.
And this sort of rivalry, or back and forth, goes all the way back to the origins of Cornell University, where the leaders of Cornell College heard about this new school in Ithaca, New York that had been founded and named after Ezra Cornell. And they wrote Ezra Cornell a note. They wrote him a letter. They had heard that he was this fairly wealthy individual, who was founding a university.
And they said for a consideration, we'd be willing to rename our college here in Iowa if you might want to maybe send us a few dollars that you don't need. We'd consider that. So there isn't any confusion between these two colleges.
And Ezra Cornell was a guy who didn't really like that kind of attitude. He was not pleased with this letter. And so he wrote back, "It says it seems that anything can be done for a consideration nowadays." And you can see Ezra Cornell, not a friendly looking guy, but had a good sense of humor.
And he goes on and says, "I have no fear that Cornell College will ever be mistaken for Cornell University," not a very nice letter that he sent back there. But in the end, he did not send them any money. And they did not change their name at Cornell College in Iowa.
But there have been stories over the years of students who have ended up in one place when they thought they were going to the other. The New York Times did a story maybe a decade ago about the confusion between the institutions. And the Cornell College admissions director said about 1% of their applications there are intended for Cornell University. And they had at least one international student who showed up in Iowa thinking they were enrolling at Cornell University. And, in fact, were enrolled at Cornell College. So that confusion has happened over the years.
Number 7, part of the Cornell identity is that Cornellians bleed Big Red. So as part of the Cornell family, you're part of the Big Red. A lot of people ask what is Cornell's mascot? And officially, this is our mascot.
Officially, we are the Big Red. So our sports teams are the Cornell Big Red. Technically, red isn't our official color. Our official color is carnelian and white, a particular shade of red. And the story goes that when Cornell was founded, they had an opening ceremony downtown. There happened to be a banner that had the names of the founders on it. And the banner happened to be red, with white lettering, just a random happenstance.
But the names of the founders were Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. And someone pointed out, well, Cornell is kind of like carnelian-- Cornellian/carnelian. And white is kind of like white. So we should make our colors carnelian and white-- red and white. And so our colors come from the founders' names, which something a lot of people don't realize.
And you might actually see carnelian and white pretty regularly when you go to the grocery store because Campbell's Soup cans are also carnelian and white, not just red and white. And that's because a Campbell's executive in the 1890s came to a Cornell football game. They were designing the cans at Campbell's. And he watched the football game.
Cornell lost the game, which is not particularly uncommon. But he was so impressed with the colors of the Cornell can-- the Cornell jerseys, that he decided that we should make the cans that Campbell's Soup red and white, carnelian and white as well. And they have continued that tradition ever since. And they credit Cornell officially on their corporate website for being the reason for Campbell's colors.
So we are the Big Red. And our unofficial mascot, though, is Touchdown the bear. You may have seen Touchdown the bear around campus, a costumed mascot. But before we had the costumed bear, we had an actual real-live bear.
Back in the day, most schools had real-live animal mascots. That's where their mascot came from. And Cornell didn't around 1900. And Cornell was kind of jealous of the other schools that had animals with their football teams.
And so the students and alumni decided, well, we should have an animal too. And they bought a bear cub. I think it was $20. And the bear cub became the mascot of the football team. And they would bring the bear to games. The bear would climb the goalposts at halftime and entertain the crowd.
And the bear was named Touchdown. This was Touchdown the bear. There were four live bear mascots over the years, the first being in 1915 and the last being in 1939. And the thing to remember here is that 1915 was actually the first year that Cornell was national champion in football. And 1939 was the last year that Cornell was national champion in football.
And so it's not a matter of talent or coaching. It's a matter of live bear mascots clearly that was our good luck charm. But none of the bears lasted more than one season. Each bear mascot would no longer be a bear cub by the end of the season. This is Touchdown the third, actually.
And so the bear would last the season and then be given to a zoo or released into the wild. There are different stories of the bears. Lots of entertaining stories of bears getting loose, or kidnapped by other teams, or traveling with the team by train, and staying in hotels with the team. It was quite an adventure to be the manager of the football team taking care of the Touchdown the bear mascot.
But today, the bear mascot looks a little bit more like this, and greet celebrities when they visit campus, hangs out with them. So you might have spotted Touchdown around campus.
And there's two great chances later today. If your schedule isn't full, I encourage you to check out either the Cornell hockey game at 7 o'clock tonight, where you can celebrate your Big Red spirit. Cornell men's hockey is at home this weekend. Or the Cornell women's chorus is performing at 6 o'clock at Bailey Hall, fantastic organization. So both of these great events this evening, where you can sing the Alma Mater, celebrate your Big Red spirit, and both right here on campus.
So I won't quiz you on the words to the Cornell Alma Mater. But it will be sung at both of these events. So you can enjoy being part of the Big Red.
Number 8, since it is Halloween this weekend, I figured it was a good opportunity to talk about one of the more spooky sides of Cornell history. And so Cornell has a lot of brains. We know this. All of your children are here with their amazing brains.
But you might not know is that one of Cornell's first professors had one of the largest collections of human brains. And it is still on campus, or at least some of the remainder of that collection. This is Professor Burt Greene Wilder, teaching in McGraw Hall in the early years of Cornell history. But Professor Wilder was known for this, the Wilder brain collection, or here you have it labeled, Brains of Educated Orderly Persons.
And he would go around campus and ask faculty, for instance. He would say, hey, when you're not using that anymore, do you do you think I could have it for my collection? And he would have them fill out this form, this bequest of brain form. And he would ask faculty and noted individuals to send their brains to Cornell University, not as students, but as things to put in a jar.
And the brain collection was one of the unique collections in Cornell's early history that continues to this day. Professor Wilder was the founder of the biology department at Cornell. He taught zoology and was the president of the American Neurological Association, so a very accomplished neurologist and person who studied the brain. And so he believed he could tell certain things about someone's intelligence or personality from the size and shape of their brain, although some of his research has since been debunked over the last 100 plus years.
Here's a more recent image of the brain collection. At the peak of the collection, it had somewhere around a thousand human brains on campus. Today, there are only about 100 to 150 remaining in the collection, and only eight of them are on display. And so if you want to see that sort of Halloweenesque collection at Cornell, it's in the psychology department in Uris Hall.
And you can see eight brains. And some of the brains on display-- actually, most of the brains on display belong to Cornell faculty, belong to some of his peers on the faculty. And Professor Wilder himself gave his own brain to the collection. And his is on display as well.
There's also the brain of a noted suffragist, Helen Gardener, who gave her brain to show that women's brains were no different than men's brains. She wanted to have a prominent woman's brain in the collection. Elizabeth Cady Stanton donated her brain to the collection, a prominent women's rights advocate, suffragist. Unfortunately, her family contested the will. They did not want her brain going to a Cornell collection. And so we did not end up getting Elizabeth Cady Stanton's brain, but we did have this other woman give her brain early on.
And then the final brain in the collection, that is perhaps the most famous, is the brain of a man named Edward Rulloff. Some of you who had been to Cornell in previous years might be familiar with the bar, Rulloff, that used to be in Collegetown. It closed just last year. But it opened in the late '70s.
And Edward Rulloff was a local serial killer, one of the last people publicly hanged in the state of New York. But Professor Wilder went to that public hanging, asked for the brain, and added it to his collection. And up until the 1970s, it was the second largest human brain ever recorded.
Mr. Rulloff had a fascinating background and fascinating story. And there are several books written about him. But some interesting brains on display at Cornell, not just in the classrooms, but in jars in the psychology department.
And we're coming to the last couple of facts here. And this is another one that's Halloween themed, that I thought was relevant to this group. And that's that Cornellians aim high. Cornellians have high goals.
How many of you have heard of the clocktower pumpkin? So I see several hands going up. So if you've seen the clocktower, you'll notice the pumpkin face on it. That's been a tradition for decades at Cornell.
But in 1997, there was another pumpkin on the clocktower. And that was the famous clocktower pumpkin of '97. Here's a photo of that. And it looks like a fairly small pumpkin in this photo. But this is a sizable gourd. This was not something that was easy to put there.
And remember 1997 is before drones, before it was as easy to maybe do something like this. People were baffled how this got there. And this is a few weeks before Halloween, October of '97, that fall. Campus woke up, and there was an enormous pumpkin on the clocktower. No one knew how it got there. No one knew who put it there.
And this became a national news story. So some of you might remember this being all over the news. The nightly news networks and anchors came and covered it here. The New York Times basically had a beat reporter assigned to the pumpkin for weeks. There's a zoom-in of it.
So New York Times article, "Conundrum at Cornell-- Pumpkin's Lofty Perch," wondering how it got there. This is from October. A little while later-- now, we're into November, "Cornell Waits for Pumpkin to Plummet." So Cornell actually put caution tape around the clocktower. They were worried it could fall and injure someone. They're trying to figure out what to do with this.
We get into December, "Cornell's Pumpkin Posits Another Mystery-- Is It Real?" These are all New York Times headlines, by the way. And so Cornell students are designing things with balloons to fly up and take photos. The engineers are designing devices to look at it.
You have the plant science students designing-- or examining it, trying to figure out what species of pumpkin is it. Is it really a pumpkin? The whole university community is really, really getting into this.
Cornell actually installed its first live webcam on campus. Some of you might be familiar with the live webcams that we have. But the very first one was the Pumpkin Cam, that would look at the pumpkin. So you could check in any time and see if the pumpkin was still on the clocktower.
Now, we get into February. It's been months. The pumpkin is still there. "Cornell Wants to Know-- Is It Pumpkin or Plastic?" The pumpkin has not fallen off. They thought maybe it would rot and fall off during the winter. But it's still there.
And now Cornell is thinking, all right, we can't just leave it here forever. What do we do about this? And so "Cornell Plans to Rescue Pumpkin Stuck on Clocktower-- on Tower."
This is March 11. It's been almost six months here, over five months. And Cornell decides, all right, we need to do something about this. Let's have a big party. We're going to bring in a crane. We'll take the pumpkin down and stop all of this media attention, that maybe they're tired of at this point.
But "Pumpkin and Hoopla at Cornell Go Splat." The party doesn't go according to plan. They bring in this big crane. And they do a test run with the crane to take the pumpkin down. And a gust of wind blew the crane into the clocktower, knocked the pumpkin off before the big party was planned.
So it didn't really work out how they hoped. But Cornell did celebrate the removal of the pumpkin. The final word, though, "Cornell Panel Determines Object Really Is Pumpkin." So there was that final follow-up, that, yes, indeed, it was a real pumpkin, after the plant biology faculty studied it.
And there is a close-up of the pumpkin towards the end of its life. You can see it's not quite as round as it once was. It basically was freeze-dried in the Ithaca winter. So while they expected it to rot and fall down pretty quickly, it dried out in the winter. It was just kind of a hardened husk of a pumpkin, that could have remained there even longer perhaps.
There's the provost at the time, holding the pumpkin. There was some scaffolding around the tower because there was construction being done at the time. So it didn't fall the entire way down when it was knocked off.
And, of course, Cornell put the pumpkin in the brain collection afterwards. On the left, you have it on display after it was removed. They did display it on campus. And then after that, they put it in a jar and added it to the Cornell brain collection.
This is what it looked like as of its 10th anniversary in 2007. I imagine it's just a jar of mush at this point. But I believe that jar of mush is still in the basement of the psychology department building. So the pumpkin legend remains.
But the pumpkin perpetrator has never revealed themselves. The prankster is at large. The story of the pumpkin remains one of the most famous pranks and legends in Cornell history. And it has never been publicly revealed quite how it was done or who did it.
There is a version of the story about how it was done that it has been given in anonymous interviews, where the individual was a climber. They went up during a chimes concert, and watched the chimes concert, and hid amongst the bells in the clocktower. And then they waited for the chimes master to leave.
They taped over the lock on the door, went home, got climbing equipment, and went back up in the middle of the night, and cut through a padlock on a trap door partway up the roof. Scaled the rest of the clock tower roof with their climbing equipment and put the hollowed-out pumpkin on top, with the help of a couple of friends. And so that's the version of the story that has been told, at least, but remains one of the great mysteries in Cornell history.
And then, finally, I'll wrap up before we do Q&A by just saying number 10, as part of the Cornell family, it's important to remember that Cornell isn't for years; it's for life. And so all of you, that holds true as well.
My mom's still going to Cornell events. And I graduated 15 years ago. So it helps that everyone in her family works at Cornell, I suppose.
But keep in mind that the Cornell family is something that you're part of for life. And I hope all of you will take advantage of being part of the Cornell family, and the Cornell network as well. Cornellians are everywhere. Everywhere you go, you can connect with Cornell, wear that Cornell hat, or T-shirt, or sweatshirt. You never know who you might meet or who might be able to help you out if you're looking for a connection somewhere. But the Cornell family is really a wonderful resource.
And I'm happy to welcome all of you to part of it, whether you're a student who has recently arrived or has been here a couple of years. And so with that, I'll open it up to Q&A. Happy to answer anything you might wonder about Cornell, or Cornell history, or trivia, things that your student might have asked you, et cetera. So any questions about anything? Yes?
COREY RYAN EARLE: Sure. So Barton Hall, the big building on campus, that has the indoor track and used for Army ROTC or the entire ROTC program, built in the 19-teens, so World War I. And then used during World War II as well.
And it's often-- the rumor is that it was used as an airplane hangar. And you can find some old photos of it with airplanes in it. And so that's half right. It was used for a aviation ground school during World War II. So planes were not flying in and out of the building. But it was used to train students on the operation, maintenance, engineering of airplanes.
And so that's when-- you see old photos with planes in it. It was part of this aviation ground school that was part of Cornell. During both World War I and World War II, Cornell hosted a wide array of government military programs here, that were aimed to bring cadets from all over the country, train them for these military programs, while taking Cornell classes. And then they would go into the service.
So that was when-- your comment about the infirmary isn't totally off though because during the 1918 flu epidemic, buildings on campus were converted to help during the epidemic. And Ithaca was hit by that as well. And I believe Barton Hall was used as an overflow space for the campus infirmary during the flu epidemic too.
Other questions? Anything at all, you've ever wondered about Cornell? Yes?
AUDIENCE: Can you explain the [INAUDIBLE]
COREY RYAN EARLE: Sure. So the statues were placed there in the 19-teens. The statues on the Arts Quad. The eat side is Ezra Cornell. The west-- or excuse me, the west side is Ezra Cornell. The east side is Andrew Dickson White, the first president-- the two co-founders.
One thing to note, if you are ever on the Arts Quad, looking at them, walk around the back of the Ezra Cornell statue. And there's a telegraph receiver as part of the sculpture. He's leaning on a machine that most people never notice.
And that's the very first telegraph receiver, honoring his involvement in the telegraph industry. And Cornell has that actual machine in the university archives, the very first telegraph receiver. It received the first message ever sent.
But if you look at the statues, you'll notice there's footsteps painted between them. And that's another Halloween-related fact. Those footsteps were first painted on Halloween night in 1936. And there's been this legend associated with the statues almost since they were placed there in the 19-teens.
There are lots of variations on it. It's one of those goofy college legends that has been around forever. But the main version of the legend is that if a virgin crosses the Arts Quad at midnight, the two statues come alive, walk to the middle of the Arts Quad, shake hands, and congratulate each other on the chastity of Cornell students.
Some versions say that the chimes have to ring at midnight for this to happen. The shrines only ring at midnight on Halloween night. They stop at 11:00 otherwise. So different variations of it, but that's the main version. And the footsteps have been repainted ever since by a fraternity on campus that has kept that legend going. Yeah?
AUDIENCE: What is your favorite part about Cornell?
COREY RYAN EARLE: My favorite part about Cornell? I mean, Cornell has such a fascinating history. And there's so many good things to mention here. I mean, I really love the story of Ezra Cornell and sort of the founding ideals from for Cornell.
The fact that he was thinking about things-- like diversity and inclusion, the idea of any person. That concept was so unusual for 1865 when Cornell was founded. And the fact that he was someone with such a-- he had about a third grade education himself, minimal formal education, but someone who really wanted to make education accessible, that saw the value in it.
Throughout his career, he saw that he was kind of looked down upon for not having a formal education. And when he got involved with the telegraph industry, he actually went to the Library of Congress and taught himself physics and electromagnetism because he wanted to better understand this telegraph device. And so you see throughout his life this real interest and passion for education, even though he had very little formal schooling.
So I love that story, and that aspect, and how his background and sort of vision and ideals shaped what Cornell was founded on and I think shapes our identity today. Other questions? Yes?
COREY RYAN EARLE: How do we get plants and trees to grow in the cold weather here? Well-- oh, grapes, grapes. Oh.
Well, it's similar because of the Finger Lakes. We have these lakes that kind of moderate the temperature to some extent. It's similar to German wineries on the Rhine. There's this body of water that helps moderate the temperature. And so that's why most of the vineyards are along the lakes in the Finger Lakes region. The body of water helps moderate the climate a little bit.
That said, climate is pretty variable here. And temperature changes and changes in weather affect the quality of the grapes from year to year. So some years are more challenging than others for grape growers.
But that was the main reason that it ended up being successful here, that Konstantin Frank was one of the first winemakers to come to the Finger Lakes region and decide to make wines here. But he had experience making wine in Europe. And saw the comparisons climate-wise between some of the places that were successful in Europe and here. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Are there any secret tunnels on campus that we should know about?
COREY RYAN EARLE: That's probably the question I get more than any other question when I speak to student groups or alumni groups. Everyone wants to know about secret tunnels. And unfortunately, we don't really have good secret tunnels.
There are few tunnels on campus that aren't very exciting, that are just basically hallways underground. For instance, you can go from the Ag Quad, where we are, you can go from Warren Hall on the corner of the Ag Quad, into Mann Library, into the Plant Science Building, under Tower Road over to Weill Hall, without going outside. So there's a hallway tunnel underneath.
There's a tunnel between Barton Hall and Teagle Hall over near Athletics. That's more of a creepy kind of older tunnel, that's a hundred years old or so, that has more of a tunnel feel to it. But for the most part now, we don't have a lot of good tunnels.
The most exciting thing is underground at Cornell are probably the university archives, which are in a library that is two floors underground, under the Arts Quad. And that's where all of the university's most valuable treasures, and things like the Gettysburg Address, and Abraham Lincoln's handwriting are. One of the world's best collections on witchcraft is at Cornell, one of the best collections on the history of hip-hop, history of human sexuality, one of the best collections on the French Revolution. All these unique collection histories are stored in the archives underground, climate controlled and the highest security facility on campus.
And then the other most exciting thing underground at Cornell is probably the particle accelerator, the synchrotron, which is underneath the track over in the Athletics area, a huge particle-smashing device that was the largest construction project in Cornell history when it was built, to build this high-tech piece of equipment underground. Yes?
COREY RYAN EARLE: So the first question about the steps at Olin, there's that terrace off of Olin Library on the Arts Quad. You throw some rocks on it, the tiles there are resonant. And it makes sound. And it was not intentional. They would not want to build a library that makes noise or encourages people to throw rocks at it.
So that was not in the designers' thinking when it was built. But students, within a pretty short period of time, realized if you kicked a rock a certain way or skipped a rock across these tiles, it made a resonant musical sound. But I believe there are signs around it that say, please don't throw rocks, but that tradition continues.
And then there's an organization at Cornell called Quill and Dagger, which is one of the senior honors societies at Cornell. And so Senior Honor Society has recognized student leaders at the end of their Cornell career for leadership, service, and character. So the goal is to bring together leaders around campus who are active in different aspects of student life, whether it's athletics, or music, or the editor of the newspaper, or whatever it might be, bring them together to serve campus. And many of our peer institutions have similar senior honor societies like that, that tend to have some secretive aspects to them but have been around for over a hundred years.
All good questions. Anything else? We've still got five minutes left. Yes? Yeah?
AUDIENCE: Can you put some of the novels that have Cornell as a setting?
COREY RYAN EARLE: Sure. There's a lot of great, great novels set at Cornell, depending on what genre you're interested in. In the spirit of Halloween, there are a couple of good murder mysteries set at Cornell. There's one called The Widening Stain, that was written by a Cornell professor under a pseudonym. That's a murder mystery set in the library on campus, where faculty are gradually being picked off. And the hero of the book is the librarian.
There's-- let's see. There's a great fantasy novel set at Cornell, that was by a Cornellian named Matt Ruff. If you watched the TV show Lovecraft Country, that was written by him. And he wrote the book, Fool on the Hill. Fool on the Hill is what it's called.
And the main character is a writer at Cornell. And he fights the dragon on Dragon Day, which is a Cornell tradition, where a dragon is paraded around campus. And so the dragon comes alive in this book. And it has fairies that live in the Clocktower as characters in it, things like that. It's a fun read.
Lots of Kurt Vonnegut novels mention Cornell, not necessarily set at Cornell. Richard Farina's famous counterculture novel of the '60s, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. There's been at least one movie adaptation of that, but that's set at Cornell in the late '50s, during a time of sort of social protests, students arguing against curfews, and captures some of the changing student life at Cornell in the 1950s. He was one of the leaders of this protest in 1958 at Cornell over curfews and a social code.
The War Between the Tates by Alison Lurie is another great one, capturing some of the activism going on at Cornell in the 1960s, set from a faculty member's standpoint-- but lots of great ones. If you email me, I can send you a long list. I've got a list of sort of my top 10 or 15 novels that are set at Cornell. Yes?
AUDIENCE: What-- is there any specific history behind [INAUDIBLE]
COREY RYAN EARLE: Yeah. That's one of the sort of strange Cornell traditions that's been around a long time. It begins in 1901, started by a Cornell student named Willard Straight. Today, we have Willard Straight Hall named after him.
But he was someone who thought that students didn't have enough fun, particularly architecture students, which absolutely is still true today. And he was an architecture student himself. And so he organized a holiday called College of Architecture Day for his class basically. And it happened to be in March, around Saint Patrick's Day.
And so they made a big painted figure of Saint Patrick and a big snake, honoring the legend of Saint Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland, associated with Saint Patrick's Day. And they ended up parading the Saint Patrick and the snake around campus as part of this random holiday, with a little parade. And over time, the parade became a tradition.
And the snake gradually evolved into being a dragon. And the association with Saint Patrick's Day kind of disappeared over time. Today, the holiday has shifted, with Cornell's Spring Break. So it's sometimes in early April, or farther away from Saint Patrick's Day. But the tradition has continued.
And the architecture students build a dragon. It's a tradition for the first-year students in architecture to do that. And the engineers get involved by trying to sabotage or rival the dragon. They'll build their own phoenix as their tradition. And the rivalry between engineers and architects goes back to the 19-teens, 1920s on Dragon Day. You can see evidence of that happening pretty early on in the traditions history.
For a period in the '60s and '70s, it was more themed around vandalism, where people would spray paint things around campus green, or toilet paper the Quad, all the trees on the Quad. And Cornell sort of shifted it away from the more vandalism-focused holiday during that era and has moved it back to just the parade with the dragon. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Can we review this talk online sometime later?
COREY RYAN EARLE: There will be a recording of this that will be posted online. So you should be able to check that out. And also, if you email me, I'm happy to share the slides with you and send you a copy too.
And if you want to learn more, over the last year and a half, I've given over 115 presentations on Zoom about different aspects of Cornell history, so history of different colleges at Cornell, all different things related to Cornell, you name it.
And so the link is-- I should have put the link on the website. It's blogs.cornell-- blogs.cornell.edu/cornellhistory. But if you email me, I can send that to you. But there are several dozen recordings of all different things related to Cornell history that you can check out there. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Um, this brain exhibition-- is it open to the public?
COREY RYAN EARLE: I believe that building is open. It's just eight brains on display. But I believe that building is left open on weekends. It's Uris Hall, about a block to the west. And if you go to the second floor, it's just in a hallway. There are eight brains on display, with a little bio of each of the individual.
AUDIENCE: And these archives-- the historical archives-- are they open too or are they closed?
COREY RYAN EARLE: They usually aren't open on weekends. Marissa, do you know if they're open this weekend?
MARISSA: I am not sure. [INAUDIBLE] yesterday.
COREY RYAN EARLE: Yeah. I don't think they are open today. And I know they are still limiting capacity there due to the pandemic. But they have a wonderful website, if you google Rare and Manuscript Collections or Cornell Archives. All of their exhibits are online. So they have dozens of exhibits using the collections, where you can view each item and learn interesting things.
AUDIENCE: And my last question, where is for you the most iconic photo I can take as far as architecture-- like maybe a door, a window-- what do you recommend me?
COREY RYAN EARLE: Oh, that's a good question, the most iconic image or place to take a photo on campus? I mean, the obvious ones are the clocktower, of course. But I really love also the West Campus War Memorial, the building at the bottom of the slope on West Campus, which has two towers.
There's lots of great symbolism and imagery on that building. It lines up perfectly with the Clocktower. You can take a photo looking up the hill, with the Clocktower, sort of underneath this arch of the building. So that's a nice, picturesque spot on campus. And there's also some neat, old wooden doors-- doorways and archways for photos there. A lot of students like to use that spot.
Any other questions before we wrap up? It's 9:30. So I know folks have other places to go. But thank you all for coming, great to have you all back in Ithaca.
Hopefully, the rain has stopped by now and you enjoy the rest of your weekend. And maybe I'll see you at the Chorus concert or the hockey game later today. So welcome to the Cornell family. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
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Join Cornell University storyteller Corey Ryan Earle ’07 for this interactive presentation on Cornell history, trivia, and fun facts as he shares essential components of the Cornellian identity and what makes Cornell unique as “the first American university.”