Two of the University’s most famous alumni will be making their way back to Ithaca this year. Former Attorney General Janet Reno ’60, and renowned science educator, Bill Nye ’77, have been appointed Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of ’56 Professors. Both Reno and Nye will serve their appointments for the next three academic years, spending a minimum of two weeks per year teaching at Cornell.
The breadth and depth of experience that both Reno and Nye have in their fields makes their arrival to the Cornell campus eagerly anticipated.
“We are delighted that they will be with us,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, Vice President for University Relations. “They are both wonderful Cornellians and we are so happy that they will be coming back.”
A former of colleague of Nye’s, Prof. Steven Squyres, astronomy, attests to the great value of Nye as a visiting professor to the University.
“Bill is an extremely skilled communicator. He has an enormous capacity to bring the love of science to a broad audience,” said Squyres. “I think that is a great fit with this University.”
Newly appointed Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and former chair of the government department Isaac Kramnick commented on the contribution Reno will make to the Cornell classroom community.
“It is a good opportunity for students to be able to listen and debate with such an important public figure, whether or not they agree with her politics,” said Kramnick, adding that “she had a long and controversial career in office and that will make a dynamic great for fascinating classroom discussion.”
As the first female Attorney General in the Clinton Administration, Reno oversaw the world’s largest justice and federal law-enforcement office for eight years. Reno was Cornell’s 2001 Senior Convocation Speaker at Commencement. Reno informed the University during her May visit that she is heavily considering running in the gubernatorial race in the state of Florida. Reno was a 1960 graduate of Cornell, where she majored in Chemistry.
Probably best known for his television series, unforgettably titled “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” Nye has continuously sought to introduce grade school children to the magic of science experiments.
Since the show’s end in 1999, Nye has served as a consultant with the environmental vehicle division at General Motors. Nye is a 1977 graduate of Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The Rhodes Class of ’56 appointment is supervised under the umbrella of the Cornell A.D. White Professors-at-Large program. Potential appointees to A.D. White Professorships are chosen through an intensive screening process and have included noteworthy visitors such as anthropologist Jane Goodall and architect Richard Meier ’56.
“To be an A.D. White Professor, one has to have a faculty sponsor and several letters of support. There is an entire approval process and the Trustees must then approve as well,” said Linda Grace-Kobas, Director of Cornell News Services, adding that “it is a significant honor to be appointed.”
Archived article by Leigh McMullan