New York’s land-grant university brought its message of education, discovery and engagement to the state capital Jan. 26 for Cornell Day in Albany, and took the opportunity to show off its diverse offerings to lawmakers and visitors to the capital.
A casual breakfast and examples of the university’s work were set up in the Well, a cavernous space in the center of the Legislative Office Building. Attendees included several Cornell alumni who serve in state government and university leaders, led by President Elizabeth Garrett, who was making her first official visit to Albany.
“I had the pleasure of talking with Cornell alumni from the Albany area and dozens of state legislators who are Cornellians, Cornell parents or Cornell friends – or all three,” Garrett said. “This day celebrated the unique partnership between the state and the university and the essential role Cornell plays in our state.”
Displays from Cornell’s contract colleges – the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Human Ecology, and Veterinary Medicine, and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations – as well as the College of Engineering and Weill Cornell Medicine were set up around the periphery of the Well. Additional tables featured the work of Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Harvest New York project.
State Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, a 2002 ILR graduate, was excited to see his alma mater represented in the halls of state power and fully understood the importance of the visit.
“We’ve got to continuously talk about and educate our policymakers to the good things that are happening at Cornell,” said Carlucci, who was the youngest member of the state Senate when he was elected in 2010, at age 29.
Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, R-122nd Dist., who represents parts of Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Ulster counties, echoed Carlucci’s sentiments.
“Coming here and telling the Cornell story directly, face-to-face, with the legislators I think is very, very important,” said the 72-year-old Crouch, who received a two-year certificate from CALS in 1965. “They have to understand how Cornell got here, why it’s here, and keep the pieces all together.”
The College of Engineering display, presented by Student Project Director Rebecca MacDonald, featured a rocket used in international competition, as well as an airplane wing and a wheel from a Mars rover among other items.
Cheese was available for sampling at the Agriculture and Life Sciences table, making it a popular spot, and the large Cooperative Extension display featured renewable and sustainable energy stations, and a small drone confined to a small pop-up tent that visitors could try their hand at operating.
Among the attendees was Ruth Singer, a supervisor at the state education department. Singer is a 1978 Cornell graduate; her father, Stanley Anderson, was a 1948 CALS graduate, and her great-grandfather was Andrew Curtis White, a Cornell librarian and professor.
Singer is part of an ambassador program aimed at attracting high school students to Cornell, and she saw Cornell Day as vital to that mission, as well.
“It absolutely raises awareness,” she said. “Where else do you find horses and cows, orchards, and engineering and math and chemistry, the whole nine yards, in one institution?”
Area 4-H students visited later in the day to experience the Cornell exhibits.