Sept. 23, 2008

Cornell Rumi Society celebrates Muslim poet's culture

More than 100 Cornell faculty members and Ithaca residents gathered Sept. 18 in Cornell's Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room to celebrate culture from the land of Rumi, the famous 13th century Muslim and Turkish scholar and poet who preached peace and tolerance.

Organized by the Cornell Rumi Society, the event featured the Rumi Dialogue Award presentation to Ithaca Mayor Carolyn K. Peterson and to Kim Haines-Eitzen, chair of the Department of Near Eastern Studies, in recognition of "their successful leadership toward creating a city of harmony among different faiths and cultures and a department that serves to a deepened understanding of interfaith and intercultural dialogue, respectively." The awards were presented by Thomas W. Bruce, Cornell vice president for university communications.

Cornell President David Skorton won the Rumi Award in recognition of "his outstanding effort and enlightened leadership in creating a campus of interfaith and intercultural harmony." Skorton, unable to attend the event, sent a message that was delivered by Bruce on his behalf. "I commend you for your efforts tonight to share the richness of Turkish culture with your own members and with the wider Cornell community," said Bruce, reading Skorton's remarks. "Today, more than ever, there is a great need to reach across arbitrary lines to understand, accept and embrace each other."

The event also included a keynote address by Alan Godlas, associate professor of religion at the University of Georgia, classical Turkish Sufi music and a demonstration of Turkish water/paper marbling art.