February 5, 2003

Forum Aims to Build 'Town-Gown' Relations

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The first-ever Cornell Community Forum, aimed at building “town-gown” relations — interactions between Cornell and its surrounding area residents — was held yesterday in Ithaca.

Gary Stewart, assistant director of community relations, put the event together “in order to provide folks in town an opportunity to access information about Cornell programs.”

According to the event’s program, the goal of the forum was to connect “area residents and organizations to campus offices and programs, with opportunities for questions and answers.”

Katie Thornton ’05, a tour guide with Campus Information and Visitor Relations, volunteered to help out with the event. Thornton explained that the forum’s message was “to tell people in the area that Cornell has a strong link with Tompkins County, and that although the Cornell community is its own entity, we are also connected with the surrounding community.”

Nancy Burnston from the Human Services Coalition went to the event to seek out information about useful resources in the Cornell community that could benefit her nonprofit organization, and she found the forum informative.

“This is great information, especially for nonprofit groups trying to develop links with campus resources,” Burnston said.

Fifteen different information stations with representatives from various Cornell departments and organizations filled the large multipurpose room of the Women’s Community Building in Ithaca.

The Cornell School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions (SCE) was one of the many Cornell departments that participated in the event. Ann Morse, the media manager for the program, expressed what the SCE has to offer area residents.

“Our school is a great doorway into Cornell for some people,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to share some of the opportunities Cornell offers with members of the Ithaca community.”

Among the programs that Morse is promoting is CyberTower. This online program is for adults of all ages and interests and offers Internet-based study rooms and video-streamed forums in a variety of areas, from wine appreciation to Mayan civilization.

Jackie Janesk ’03 was at the forum representing the Cornell Public Service Center (CPSC). As a community program specialist, Janesk works to place students in paid or unpaid positions throughout the community. As various community members and Cornell students and affiliates of the University stopped at her station, Janesk determined if the CPSC’s projects “could help enhance the community organizations.”

“The community has needs, and we want them to know that our programs are a great way to fill those needs,” Janesk said.

The Cornell Commitment, composed of the Cornell Tradition, Cornell Presidential Research Scholars and the Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars, was also stationed at the event. Susan W. Hitchcock, the executive director of the program, pointed to pictures of Cornell students as she explained that “some agencies don’t realize the level of commitment involved in these programs, so we wanted to show some examples of students who have really been involved in the community.”

Mary Jo Dudley, assistant director of the Latin American Studies Program, provided information on the various services the program offers to the community. This includes a free Latin American film series every other Wednesday night in Uris Hall Auditorium and learning kits with information on Latin American countries accessible to community teachers.

Other stations at the forum included the Office of Workforce Diversity, Equity and Life Quality, the Recruitment and Employment Center, Community Relations, the Cornell-Ithaca Partnership, Cornell Cooperative Extension-Tompkins County, the Cornell East Asia Program, Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, Transportation Services and the Office of the Provost for Land Grant Affairs.

Archived article by Sarah Workman