Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and science educator Bill Nye have been appointed Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professors at Cornell University beginning July 1. The professorships are awarded for a period of one to five years, and appointees are considered full members of the Cornell faculty. Nye and Reno each will serve three-year appointments.
During each year of their appointments, Rhodes professors visit the campus for a minimum of two weeks.
A 1960 Cornell graduate with a bachelor's degree in chemistry, Reno was the 2001 Senior Convocation speaker during the university's Commencement weekend in May. During her visit, she confirmed she is considering a run for the 2002 gubernatorial race in Florida. As attorney general for almost eight years during the administration of President Bill Clinton, Reno directed the world's largest justice and federal law-enforcement office. She was the first female attorney general as well as longest serving attorney general since before the Civil War.
Nye, a 1977 graduate of Cornell's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is best known for his weekly, half-hour television series, "Bill Nye the Science Guy," which was designed to promote the wonders of science to fourth-graders. With his trademark thumbs-up signal and the ubiquitous slogan "science rules," Nye taught his TV audience many of the concepts he learned as a Cornell engineering student. The show ended two years ago, and Nye now is working on his fifth book, serving as consultant with the environmental vehicle division at General Motors and appearing as a guest speaker in a variety of settings, among other activities.
The Rhodes Class of '56 chair is overseen by the Cornell A.D. White Professors-at-Large Program. Architect Richard Meier, a 1956 Cornell alumnus, and biomedical scientist Edward M. Scolnick, president of Merck Research Laboratories, were appointed the inaugural Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professors in 2000.