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John Gutenberger, 'father of community relations,' to retire

Malina, Gutenberger, Yunker, and Cornell
Chris Kitchen/University Photography
From left, Joel Malina, vice president for university relations; John Gutenberger, special adviser to Office of Community Relations; Craig Yunker ’73, chairman of the University Relations Committee of the Board of Trustees; and Ezra Cornell ’71, chairman of the Community Communications Committee of the Board of Trustees.

John “Gutie” Gutenberger, former mayor of the city of Ithaca and special adviser to Cornell’s Office of Community Relations, was recognized “for 27 years of meritorious town-gown service” by the Cornell Board of Trustees’ University Relations Committee at its March 23 meeting in Ithaca. Gutenberger will retire from the university April 14.

An Ithaca native, former owner of a Collegetown grocery store (Egan’s IGA), father of four and grandfather of 13, Gutenberger was a member of Ithaca’s Common Council in the 1970s and early ’80s, and served three terms as mayor from 1984-90.

He has been an advocate of positive town-gown community relations ever since.

“As mayor and while working at Cornell, Gutie stressed the importance of bridge-building, of having higher education, government and our shared communities steadily work together when and where possible,” said Joel Malina, vice president for university relations. “He has been a remarkable town-gown advocate both on and off campus, helping to address Tompkins County’s challenges and opportunities with local officials and Cornell leadership for the benefit of all.”

Gutenberger is considered by his colleagues, friends and neighbors as the “father of Cornell Community Relations.” He was hired into Cornell’s Office of Community Relations in 1990 as assistant director, and served several years as director, before cutting back on his hours, prior to his retirement next week.

Since announcing his retirement, Gutenberger also received the key to the city from Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 and proclamations from Cornell, the city of Ithaca and the Tompkins County Legislature.

Noting Gutenberger’s “large heart, steady hand and ability to find solutions that advance the common good,” Interim President Hunter Rawlings said: “With Gutie’s involvement and leadership, Cornell has navigated through a variety of community-campus challenges, and – importantly – numerous shared opportunities. … I respect this Ithaca native for his integrity, his love of Tompkins County and Cornell, and his enduring wisdom that has served all of us so well.”

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John Carberry