December 6, 2002
Join the Club
| December 6, 2002
*DISCLAIMER: This critic has not seen Dead Poet’s Society, and though numerous comparisons have been made between the two movies, this critique of The Emperor’s Club must stand outside the shadow of the aforementioned film.
In The Emperor’s Club, Mr. Hundert (Kevin Kline) is a respected teacher of Greek and Roman classical history at St. Benedictus school for boys. He tries to teach academics, but most importantly, he strives to instill discipline and integrity.
Thus the premise is laid for this well-made and inventive film. About 70% of the film takes place in 1976 while the final portion is set in the present. This film strikes a common chord for every individual, begging the questions: what is ethical behavior and when is unethical behavior acceptable?
Mr. Hundert’s class this year is a common group of rambunctious teenage boys. He goes through his usual motions of trying to drive morality and academic integrity into every student’s head. But this year there is one catch: the new student Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch).
The movie follows Hundert’s struggle with this challenging, rebellious student. The movie then jumps into Sedgewick’s adult life to show his current status. Did Hundert reach this student or did he fail to give him a deserved education in morality?
Kline is well cast as the teacher all of us had who seemed to take their job a little too seriously, even though it was all for our benefit. We often forget what a tremendous actor Kline truly is, as he is usually cast in those quirky supporting roles (The Anniversary Party, for instance). But he shines in this film and shows he can play a strong lead character when need be. And he does it well.
The young Hirsch plays the all-too-common new student syndrome well and with a small bit of inventiveness. However, the supporting characters seem a little awkwardly cast as his fellow students with not much confidence on screen. Perhaps they were overplaying all of our low self-esteem teenage years.
The adult actors playing the aged students are also a bit clich
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December 15, 2002
Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77, currently the dean of the University of Michigan Law School, will assume the presidency of Cornell University. The Board of Trustees announced the selection Saturday during a press conference. Lehman, who was unanimously chosen by the Presidential Search Committee, will take office on July 1, 2003. He is the first Cornell alumnus to assume the presidency. “Cornell University has never been far from my heart, and I am just humbled and awed and thrilled,” Lehman said at the press conference. President Hunter R. Rawlings III and members of the Board of Trustees and the search committee were equally enthusiastic. “I feel great confidence that he’s going to be a superb president,” said Rawlings, who will join the classics department as a full-time faculty member after his term ends on June 30. “As [a faculty member] I will look to our president with great respect.” As dean of the University of Michigan Law School, Lehman entered the radar of the national media when he was a named defendant in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger, which challenge the affirmative action policies at Michigan. The Supreme Court’s March decision will have an effect on admissions policies nationwide. According to Edwin H. Morgens ’63, chair of the search committee and member of the Board of Trustees, a commitment to diversity was an important quality sought in Cornell’s next president. “We tried very hard not to be colorblind but rather to cue to the very priorities which [Lehman] articulated very well,” Morgens said. He said that of the three finalists, there was a woman and a minority. “It was clear, however, that the person for the job was a white male,” he said, emphasizing Lehman’s qualifications. Yet Lehman is no stranger to diversity issues. He antici0pates spending “a quarter to a half of my time” on the Supreme Court case in the next three months, he said. He stressed that a priority will be to spend time with the press in order to explain the Michigan’s defense of affirmative action. “This is complex stuff,” he said. As for its outcome, Lehman said, “I suspect that the Supreme Court will uphold” affirmative action and “reaffirm” its current position. The qualities sought by the search committee, according to Morgens, were several. He indicated that the 19 members searched for someone with “an unblemished record of integrity,” curiosity, and “clear leadership skills coupled with an ability to make decisions, which is not always true of academics.” In addition, this person would have to be an “able fundraiser,” passionate and “just plain smart.” “I believe that Cornell’s president must nourish a culture of greatness. Everyone who is part of Cornell must hunger to leave a legacy of enduring inquiry,” Lehman said at a luncheon Saturday, addressing administrators, trustees, student leaders, and Ithaca officials. Also present were presidents emeriti Frank H.T. Rhodes and Dale Corson, who was president while Lehman was an undergraduate. Lehman listed information science and computing technology, postgenomic life sciences, nanotechnology, the boundaries between races and religions around the world, and the boundaries between local and global societies as points of a “conversation … that must be sustained by everyone at Cornell.” Lehman, 46, who received his undergraduate degree in mathematics, is connected to the University in more ways than one: his father Leonard graduated in 1949 and his son, Jacob, is currently a freshman. Lehman sent an e-mail Saturday morning to students and faculty of the University of Michigan Law School notifying them of his impending departure. Rawlings announced his resignation from the presidency on March 15. In April, the Presidential Search Committee was formed; its 19 members and two advisors consisted of 13 trustees, two students, one University employee, three Ithaca campus faculty members, one faculty member from Weill Medical College and one administrator. Seven members were women and 12 were male. Soon after the search committee sent 200,000 pieces of mail sent to alumni requesting suggestions for the next president. He said the committee received approximately 1,000 responses. The committee held open forums with students, faculty and employees throughout the year and interviewed approximately 30 senior members of the administration to get further suggestions. At this time, the committee also drafted “The Cornell Opportunity,” a document which outlined the responsibilities and desired qualities of Cornell’s next president. The initial nomination list had 500 names, narrowed down to 100, then 35 who were interviewed individually at their place of employment, then 12 who underwent further background checks, and finally three. Morgens said that the committee divided this group into sitting presidents, rising provosts and “superstar deans.” The latter category, he said, was not paid any particular attention. However, he said, “Jeffrey Lehman simply would not go away,” and the “superstar dean” was considered among the three finalists for president. “Of course it would be easy, it would be right and proper for me to tell you that I was six feet, eight inches tall,” he said in reference to Rawlings’ six-foot, seven-inch stature and the increasing height of successive Cornell presidents. But Lehman was content to say that after “137 years of [intellectual] giants … it is our shared duty to stand on their shoulders and see farther.” WHAT WAS PRESIDENT-ELECT JEFF LEHMAN’S FAVORITE CLASS AT CORNELL? LOOK FOR OUR CONTINUED COVERAGE IN AN EXTRA EDITION ON MONDAY. Archived article by Andy Guess
December 15, 2002
Before Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 became the president elect of Cornell University and the current dean of the Michigan Law School, he was a Monopoly whiz. As a Cornell sophomore in 1975, Lehman wrote a book titled 1000 Ways to Win Monopoly Games. He co-authored the book with fellow student Jay Walker, who lived across the hall from him freshman year in Class of ’17 Hall. They frequently played the Parker Brothers board game with other dorm residents and later began entering tournaments. A publishing company approached them with a request that they write a book about Monopoly, and the two friends spent winter break in Walker’s fraternity house, working diligently to complete the book in just five weeks. Lehman recalled “the intense commitment that was required to produce a manuscript in such a short period of time. What was amazing,” he said, “was I felt like that’s the sort of thing an undergraduate is supposed to do at Cornell.” Today, Lehman’s expertise surrounds the American welfare state. He has published 22 articles and numerous opinion pieces on the subject. And as dean of the Michigan Law School, he has demonstrated a commitment to educational diversity by defending the law school’s affirmative action admissions policy in front of the Supreme Court. Lehman will bring that commitment to Cornell, which “in its very essence is meant to be a diverse institution, where people from every walk of life, from every set of background experiences that one can have, come together to pursue instruction in any study,” he said. “And what I think I will bring to Cornell is the experience of, for the past five years, having worked to articulate those values in a different context.” “Jeff established an extraordinary record of achievement during his nine years as dean of one of our nation’s outstanding law schools,” said Edwin H. Morgens, Cornell trustee and chair of the presidential search committee in a statement. “He is a distinguished scholar, whose research addresses a wide range of issues at the intersection of law and public policy — from higher education finance to corporate taxation to welfare reform.” “Jeff has such a good grasp of the essentials of higher education policy,” President Hunter R. Rawlings III said. “The transition, I think, will be a smooth and easy one.” Lehman is also the first Cornell alumnus to serve as president. “Cornell has never been far from my heart,” he said. “By the time you graduate, Cornell is in every cell of your being.” The University might be in his genes, anyway: Lehman is the second of three Cornell generations. “His father attended Cornell and graduated from it, his son Jacob is a freshman at Cornell, so he has the added advantage of a deep familiarity with this place, and also a love and passion for it that come out in everything he says when he speaks of Cornell,” Rawlings said. Lehman’s parents, Leonard, a 1949 Cornell graduate, and Imogene, were in Ithaca Saturday to celebrate their son’s appointment. Lehman will assume the presidency on July 1, 2003. He expects the first months to be a period of continued learning at Cornell. “For the past 26 years, I have been studying Cornell from a distance. The next six months will be a time when I will have the opportunity to study Cornell up close,” he said, “