Cornellians packed Barton Hall once again last night to celebrate the inauguration of President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77, as hundreds of students participated in “Andy and Ezra’s Excellent Big Red Adventure.”
The show featured student performance groups, athletic teams as well as representatives from all of the undergraduate colleges and graduate programs.
Inge T. Reichenbach, vice president for alumni affairs and development, said that the event was a “parade representing what students are doing” at Cornell. According to Reichenbach, it was important to have students involved in every aspect of the inauguration day.
“[Lehman] wants this to be something for the Cornell community,” she said.
“Andy and Ezra’s Excellent Big Red Adventure” began as a voice over the public address announced that with an alumnus president, “the adventure has begun a new chapter.”
Several a cappella groups were the first performers in the show, including Cayuga’s Waiters, who performed “We Didn’t Go to Harvard.”
Soon after the show began, the sound of a phone ringing interrupted the festivities. Lehman’s son, Jacob Lehman ’06, handed a red phone to the president and a voice was put through asking Lehman to accept a collect call of $25 million. Lehman laughed, and asked, “Can I put it on my CornellCard?”
The caller, who was placed on a speaker so the audience could hear, was Edward Lu ’84, currently aboard the International Space Station. Lu will be coming back to Earth in a couple of days aboard a Russian spacecraft, Reichenbach said.
Lu, who said he was “somewhere above the Pacific Ocean” at the time of the call, congratulated Lehman on his inauguration.
“We’ve been hearing all about the inauguration even up here in space,” Lu said.
Lehman asked Lu if he could see Cornell from his position above the planet, and Lu joked, “for the first three or four months up here, I was trying to take a picture of Cornell, but I couldn’t. It was always covered in clouds.”
“That was really cruel,” Lehman responded.
“Hopefully, sometime soon I can come and visit down there,” Lu said.
Lehman invited Lu to return to Cornell, “have a safe landing, come on back and we’ll take you to a hockey game,” he said.
The president’s son performed as part of Ring of Steel Ithaca, a group that performs choreographed combat and stunts.
Jacob joked about his father “following” him to Cornell and told the president that concerning life at Cornell, “you’ve got to get some things straight.” He went on to explain different current characteristics of Cornell by listing phrases that the University initials “C.U.” could stand for, including “caffeine ubiquitous.”
“Words don’t really do [Cornell] justice,” Jacob said. “I’ve got a few friends of mine here to show you.”
A parade of student groups followed, including academic units, sports teams and other student organizations. Some students dressed up to represent their groups, and an announcer described each group in the parade. The accomplishments of academic units were celebrated and announced, including the recent 2004 U.S. News & World Report ranking of the College of Veterinary Medicine as number one.
The event culminated with the men’s ice hockey team inline skating up the aisles to the stage. The team performed a dance routine and skated around Lehman, eventually surrounding the president, placing a hockey jersey on him and lifting him onto their shoulders. The president remained on stage with the hockey team as attendees and student groups stood for the alma mater. The finale included participants coming down from the ceiling of Barton on ropes and a large amount of streamers being released in the air.
Anne Riordan ’07 attended the event with several of her friends.
“We’re part of the lacrosse team,” she said, and added that she had come to support the women’s lacrosse players who participated in the parade. Riordan said she was impressed by the event.
“We really liked it,” she said.
Jacki Sherry ’07, who also attended in support of the women’s lacrosse team, said that the event “was like a fiesta.”
Many alumni were present to watch the parade of student activities and talent.
Al Harris ’53 said that he enjoyed the event and remarked that those participating were “such talented people.”
Harris said that the amount of diversity in the University was reflected in the participants.
“There were so many different types of groups,” he said.
Archived article by Kate Cooper