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Cornell ramps up its West Coast connections

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Joe Schwartz
Carl Bass
Sam Fontejon Photography
Carl Bass '78, president and CEO of Autodesk, was one of the featured speakers at Cornell Silicon Valley's CSV12 event, "Designing the Future: Cornell and the Technology of Today and Tomorrow," held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., in March.

Cornell's Division of Alumni Affairs and Development (AAD) is strengthening its connection to West Coast alumni, parents, friends and a growing pool of current and prospective students.

The West Coast is second only to the Northeast corridor (Washington, D.C., to Boston) in total number of Cornell alumni, with more than 29,000 living in the region (including Alaska, Hawaii and British Columbia). It is home to an increasing number of students, too; of the Class of 2016, 13.5 percent are from the West Coast region, up from 12.4 percent last year.

New staff hires and plans for more events and programs will build on the history of Cornell clubs, alumni associations, trustees, university and college council members from the region, the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network (CAAAN) and volunteers that have connected Cornellians from San Diego to Vancouver, Canada.

"They're the ones who have been carrying the Big Red flag for a long time," said Pat Watson '83, AAD senior associate vice president. Club and college events, as well as networks like Cornell Silicon Valley (CSV) and the Cornell Entrepreneurship Network, have kept Cornell visible on the West Coast, she said. And in recent years, young alumni and new volunteer leadership have added to Cornell's presence.

"Well-run Cornell clubs are crucial to keep the spirit of Cornell alive and to come up with a wide variety of programs -- for all ages and incomes -- to bring Cornellians together," said Curtis Reis '56, a trustee emeritus. He noted, for example, that the Cornell Club of Los Angeles hosts more than 100 programs a year, including 15-20 scholarship dinners and events each fall that raise about $20,000 a year for supplemental expenses for students from Los Angeles, especially for travel.

"We have a large and loyal base" who want Cornell programs with content and who want to learn from other alumni, said Ann Bowers '59, a trustee emeritus, presidential councillor and chair of the CSV Advisors. "This was very well demonstrated when over 500 spent an afternoon and evening at a Cornell Silicon Valley event ... on a business day, and this is not a retired community!"

Danielle Bluey, Amy Jacobson, M.A. '07, Shannon Murray '94 and Julie Sun have joined AAD as major gifts officers and are part of the university's West Coast outreach.

Bluey comes from the University of California-Berkeley and lives in San Francisco; Jacobson, who had been working for AAD in the School of Hotel Administration, moved to Los Angeles this summer; Murray, who worked for Cornell for 10 years, including eight as director of Cornell Silicon Valley, has rejoined Cornell and lives in San Francisco; and Sun most recently worked for the Overlake Hospital Foundation and lives in Bellevue, Wash.

They join AAD's Chris Wieland and Nancy Dreier '86 in Los Angeles and Ashley Binter '97 in San Francisco and will be involved with Cornell events and engagement efforts throughout the region. "All these ingredients are coming together to make an impact quickly and to enhance Cornell's presence," Watson said.

The events calendar for the West Coast continues to grow. For example, the CALS Alumni Association will host its annual picnic in Napa Valley Sept. 15; in Menlo Park, the Cornell Alumni Association of Northern California will host its annual welcome picnic for Cornellians who are new to the area, also on Sept. 15. Many of the regional clubs will hold board meetings in early fall to further plan their annual activities; many of the larger clubs will plan a Homecoming game-watching party around the Sept. 22 football game vs. Yale; and most will host a Zinck's Night event in October.

CSV will continue to produce events throughout the fall featuring the work of Cornell alumni. On Oct. 7, it will partner with the College of Human Ecology and the Sloan Program in Health Administration for a reception at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

In the spring, a major campaign event with President David Skorton will be held March 12 in San Francisco, and CSV will hold its signature event -- "CSV13" -- April 30 in Mountain View. The university also anticipates returning to Los Angeles with a major campaign event in spring 2014.

This renewed effort on the West Coast will bring more of Cornell to alumni, parents and friends where they are, Watson said. It also will boost programming that supports university and campaign priorities, and programs relevant to those living in the region.


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