A downtown-based hospitality employment training program partners with university dining services to teach hospitality skills to local community members. Downstate medical students receive upstate clinical training. A nationally recognized West Hill “village” helps students communicate environmental and sustainability issues. Students translate U.S. norms around cancer care into multiple languages. An Ithaca business consortium works with higher education to help expand Cornell’s off-campus presence, while enhancing the area’s economy.
These town-gown partnerships were the focus of the sixth annual Cornell Town-Gown (TOGO) Awards ceremony, held Nov. 19 at Ithaca High School. The TOGO Awards celebrate the connections between Cornell University and local communities and highlight the achievements of local leaders who have left or are leaving high-profile positions.
“The people and partnerships that we’re honoring today reflect the wide range of areas in which town and gown work together,” said Cornell Interim President Hunter Rawlings. “They recognize the diversity we value and need to enhance, and the importance of a strong community.”
In addition to the partnerships receiving TOGOs, Rawlings noted several other town-gown collaborations, including those that Engaged Cornell has made possible: a project that mentors girls and underrepresented minority students in Ithaca middle and high schools interested in computer coding; a legal research clinic that provides pro bono work by law students; and a course that includes a project to develop new exhibits with Ithaca Sciencenter staff. He also noted several advances in sustainability that should benefit both the university and the Ithaca and Tompkins County communities, including Cornell’s use of solar energy, plans for Earth Source Heat and the Cayuga Lake Modeling Project.
The partnerships recognized with TOGOs this year were:
- The Greater Ithaca Activities Center’s Hospitality Employment Training Program, in which Cornell Dining and the Statler Hotel partner to give Ithaca-area community members skills to help them gain employment or advance in hospitality positions.
- A rotation in the primary care clerkship offered by Cayuga Medical Center that gives Weill Cornell Medicine third- and fourth-year students hands-on clinical training in Tompkins County.
- Several Learn@Ecovillage-Cornell partnerships such as engagement with the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Department of Communication faculty to help Cornell students learn how to communicate environmental and sustainability issues; with Cornell’s Infrastructure, Properties and Planning staff to help Cornell better track campus sustainability metrics; and with senior lecturer Francis Vanek’s students in the School of Civil Engineering to do energy research.
- The Cornell Public Service Center’s partnership with the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes to translate the cultural norms of cancer care in the United States into multiple languages to facilitate communication between patients and their health care providers.
- The Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s work with Cornell on projects to invigorate the downtown area, including the building of Seneca Place, the establishment of the downtown business incubator Rev-Ithaca Startup Works that also includes Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3), and the opening of a branch of the Cornell Store on the Ithaca Commons.
Community leaders recognized were Charlie Trautmann, retiring executive director of the Sciencenter; Kate Supron, former mayor of Cayuga Heights; Steve Griffin ’76, founding executive director of Foodnet’s Meals on Wheels; Amy Trueman ’76, former dean of student life at TC3; Gwen Wilkinson, former Tompkins County District Attorney; Nathan Shinagawa ’05, MHA ’09, former member of the Tompkins County Legislature; Jennifer Engel ’79, founding member of the Ithaca Public Education Initiative; Albert and Cindy Smith, Shortstop Deli owners since 1978; and Damayanthi Herath, M.S. ’84, Ph.D. ’87, retired executive director of the Women’s Opportunity Center.
Joel Malina, Cornell vice president for university relations, thanked Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars who held a food drive before the event and Ithaca High School students who provided music before the formal program. He recognized Carl Haynes, president of TC3, who will retire in August 2017. He also thanked Cornell’s Office of Community Relations, led by Associate Vice President Gary Stewart, for organizing the TOGOs each year, and the Ithaca City School District, led by Superintendent Luvelle Brown, who hosted the event.