October 10, 2003

Cornell Campus Prepares for 11th Inauguration

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While many students are ready to take a much-welcomed break, President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 traveled thousands of miles Wednesday night to Doha, Qatar to kick off his inauguration ceremony, which will conclude in Ithaca next Thursday.

The East Hill celebration will be filled with numerous activities, including speeches made by well-known personalities, an inauguration address by Lehman and possibly a telephone conversation with astronaut Ed Lu ’84 from the International Space Station.

Lehman will begin the first stage of his induction when he helps open a new building at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) on Sunday. Lehman will return to Weill Cornell Medical College in New York for a second inauguration ceremony on Wednesday before returning to Ithaca for his official inauguration.

Serious planning for the event in Ithaca started in July, according to Inge T. Reichenbach, vice president for alumni affairs and development and the main organizer of the inauguration. Reichenbach said that although part of the day is traditional, each president has individually decided what message he wants to send out to the community through his ceremony.

“We have a history that goes back for more than 100 years, and this is only the 11th inauguration the University is having,” said Linda Grace-Kobas, interim vice president for communications and media relations and a media organizer for the event. “This is a big deal because we are formally installing the leader of the University.”

The events in Ithaca will kick off at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, when Lehman will take a tour of the Tompkins County Public Library and have a conversation with over 50 community leaders. Lectures will then be held simultaneously an hour and a half later.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, the chair of Infosys Technologies Ltd.; world-renowned architect Richard Meier ’57; and Prof. Alice Fulton MFA ’82, English and Prof. Kenneth A. McClane ’73, the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Literature, will be speaking at the Biotechnology Building, Statler Auditorium and Sage Chapel, respectively.

“The morning speakers are spectacularly talented,” Lehman said. “[Fulton] and [McClane] are well-renowned poets. … Murthy is one of the most important contributors to the digital revolution in the world [and] Richard Meier is one of the greatest architects of his generation.”

Inauguration participants will then line up in the Arts Quad at noon, where the new ice cream Ezra and Andrew’s World View will be unveiled in honor of Lehman. After a chimes concert, the academic procession will start making its way toward Barton Hall, where at 2 p.m. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 will speak. Lehman will then give his inaugural address.

“Justice Ginsburg has been for me and I think for many lawyers and law professors a source of inspiration. To have her come to the campus and present me to the community is humbling,” Lehman said.

Reichenbach said that approximately 70 representatives from other colleges will be attending the procession, and for the first time, alumni will also be among the participants.

According to University sources, about 700 students from various groups will be performing at the 7 p.m. “Ezra & Andy’s Excellent BIG RED Adventure” in Barton Hall. Students can pick up tickets for the inauguration ceremony and the evening event at the Straight box office.

Students such as Jennifer Frohlich ’06, who is performing in the wind symphony and symphony orchestra Thursday night, are anticipating the event.

“I’m definitely looking forward to playing at the inauguration because I get to represent Cornell in front of thousands of people,” Frohlich said.

Grace-Kobas said that there is a good possibility that Lehman will be able to talk to Lu in a telephone conversation during the event. Even though there are many factors which will come into play, the organizers are “as definite as anyone can be with an event like this.”

“[Lu] really wants to do it, and if everything goes well, we’ll have that live telephone call.”

Organizers of the event are hoping that students will attend. E-mails were sent to professors encouraging them to cancel their 1:25 and 2:30 p.m. classes. Because of this, the turnout for the event is expected to be positive, according to student-elected trustee Funa Maduka ’04, an organizer in the publicity committee.

“I hope the turnout will be good,” Maduka said. “Canceled classes make [coming to the event] possible.”

Reichenbach said that students who are too busy to attend the events can watch the inauguration on Time Warner cable channel 16 and also over the Internet at the inauguration website.

“We really want people to come,” Grace-Kobas said. “It will be really exciting to have a Supreme Court justice there and the president to give his major address for the future.”

Archived article by Brian Tsao