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Cornell senior Ian Alberta dies in off-campus fire; memorial service May 17


* A fund is being established in Ian Alberta's memory to support fifth-grade field trips to Cayuga Nature Center. Donations can be sent to the Ithaca Public Education Initiative, P.O. Box 4268, Ithaca, NY 14852; make checks payable to IPEI and note "in memory of Ian Alberta." Habitat for Humanity-Cornell is also accepting donations; see the main story.

* One of Alberta's sculptures has been installed in the lobby of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, which also has an online tribute page to him.

* The Cornell Department of Art and the Johnson Museum are organizing an exhibit in honor of Alberta, with his artwork and tributes by students, faculty and friends, in the Experimental Gallery at Olive Tjaden Hall. The exhibit opens Sunday morning, May 28 (Commencement Day), and will remain on display until the following Saturday, June 3. Artists who wish to participate should contact Franklin Spector, art department chair, at 255-4213 or or Maria Brown at 255-6730 or

Cornell senior Ian Neil Alberta, 22, of Ithaca, died in an off-campus fire in the early morning of Saturday, May 13, at 111-113 Heights Court in the Cornell Heights section of Ithaca.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, May 17, at 4 p.m. in Sage Chapel on campus.

Alberta, who graduated from Ithaca High School in 2001, was scheduled to graduate in December 2006 from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. He was a fine arts major and played bass guitar in local rock band Somatic Umbra.

"We are all deeply saddened by this terrible loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with Ian's family," said Cornell Vice President for University Communications Tommy Bruce.

Another Cornell student received minor burns in the fire and was treated and released by Cayuga Medical Center. The Ithaca Fire Department, which responded to the blaze after a 911 call at 3:15 a.m., called the fire accidental, originating with a plastic container for discarded smoking materials that ignited during the night.

The university and local support agencies assisted other residents of the duplex in finding alternative housing, and offering counseling and other support.

The memorial service for Alberta is open to the public and will be followed by a reception in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room. Free campus parking will be available after 3 p.m. in the Hoy parking garage by Schoellkopf Field.

Alberta's family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Habitat for Humanity--Cornell, Willard Straight Hall, Box 91, Ithaca, NY 14853.

A community support meeting was held the evening of May 14 at the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, coordinated by the Dean of Students Office's community support team and attended by students, faculty members, staff, administrators and friends of Alberta's from the community.

Media Contact

Simeon Moss