Sept. 12, 2008

Final West Campus house named for Flora Rose

The just-completed fifth and final house in Cornell's West Campus system has been named for Flora Rose, who was recruited to Cornell 101 years ago as a lecturer in nutrition. Rose (1874-1959) worked with Martha Van Rensselaer to establish a department, and later a college, of home economics that evolved into today's College of Human Ecology.

The announcement was made Sept. 12 in the common room of Flora Rose House by Edna Dugan, assistant vice president for student and academic services and a Becker House fellow, at a ceremony celebrating completion of the $225 million construction project.

Rose became head of the College of Home Economics after Van Rensselaer's death in 1932. She retired in 1940 at age 66.

"We have investigated many, many deceased faculty's biographies," said Dugan, who has been closely involved with the West Campus project for more than a decade. "So it is so fitting that House Five should become Flora Rose House ... to recognize her legendary status in Cornell history." In remarks preceding the announcement, Susan Murphy, vice president for student and academic services, and Isaac Kramnick, the Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government, both of whom played key roles in West Campus' planning and construction, gave thanks to many Cornell individuals and departments as well as the project's architects and builders.

"It's breathtakingly moving -- moving even to tears -- to see an abstract vision come to life," said Kramnick. "To see an idea embodied in steel, wood, concrete, glass, trees and grass. To see what was once a visionary ideal, a vision of students and faculty sharing the intellectual and social potential of college and residential life -- to see that vision realized in actual spaces that are beautiful and even majestic."

In 1866, Kramnick noted, a year after Cornell's founding, its first president, Andrew Dickson White, recommend that faculty should be friends and companions to Cornell students. Kramnick and others reintroduced the concept in 1983, but, he said, "It took a long time -- like the glaciers that have formed this place -- for this university to move."

Murphy said Cornell President Emeritus Hunter Rawlings, a strong proponent of West Campus, "willed it" into being. "You don't always see the outcome [of a project] for decades," Murphy said. "To have it done is just extraordinary."