April 3, 2013

Public engagement showcased in San Francisco

Feats, Inc.
Monroe Weber-Shirk, senior lecturer in civil and environmental engineering, speaks about the AguaClara project at the Cornell Now event in San Francisco March 12.

 A full-scale replica of the Arts Quad’s Ezra Cornell statue – decked out in a Big Red scarf – greeted visitors to San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts March 12.

Inside, President David Skorton, faculty members, and graduate and undergraduate students showcased Cornell’s public engagement mission to about 225 Bay-Area alumni, parents and friends as part of Cornell’s yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Morrill Land Grant Act. The region is home to more than 13,000 Cornellians and an active alumni network.

The event also underscored the role of philanthropy in helping Cornell fulfill its mission. The Cornell Now campaign goal is $4.75 billion, one of the most ambitious in higher education. Trustee and Cornell Now campaign co-chair Stephen Ashley ’62, MBA ’64, thanked guests for their support, encouraged them to give to Cornell at whatever level was comfortable for them and acknowledged the inaugural members of the 1865 Society, launched this year to recognize consecutive annual giving.

Rebecca Stoltzfus, the provost’s fellow for public engagement in the Center for Engaged Learning + Research and a professor of nutritional sciences, introduced three presentations:

• “Ruminations on Renewable Energy,” by Larry Walker, professor of biological and environmental engineering (BEE), and C. Lindsay Anderson, assistant professor in BEE and the Norman R. Scott Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow. They discussed Cornell’s interdisciplinary approach to energy issues.

• “AguaClara@Cornell,” led by Monroe Weber-Shirk, senior lecturer in civil and environmental engineering and an Atkinson Center fellow, with Julia Morris ’13 and graduate student Casey Garland. AguaClara has brought sustainable water treatment systems to more than 30,000 people in Honduras.

• “The Impact of Theater on Incarceration,” led by Bruce Levitt, professor of Performing and Media Arts, with Jamie Lewis ’13 and Joey Triska ’13. They have facilitated therapeutic theater performances in the Auburn (N.Y.) Correctional Facility and are producing a feature-length documentary about their work.

The Cornell NYC Tech campus dominated the question-and-answer session with Skorton, who gave a progress update and shared the strategic vision for how Cornell Tech will help transform the New York City economy through technology research and commercialization.

Cornell at SXSW

In another major event for alumni in March, the Cornell Entrepreneur Network (CEN), together with Cornell Silicon Valley (CSV) and Entrepreneurship@Cornell, hosted an event for the first time at the SXSW® Interactive Festival on March 9 in Austin, Texas.

The festival featured the brightest minds (including many Cornellians) in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new digital works, video games and innovative ideas the international community has to offer.

The Cornell event attracted more than 125 Cornellians from all over the world. Four Cornell students and 21 alumni presented at the conference on topics ranging from crowd-fundraising, data and gamification, innovation, space exploration, digital telepathy, tech and education and entertainment entrepreneurship.