November 21, 2003
12 Tribes Hosts Forum
| November 21, 2003
They came together to set the record straight, ask questions, tell stories and exercise their First-Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion.
They, of course, are the members of the Twelve Tribes community.
Last night, they held an open forum in the Holiday Inn on South Cayuga Street, attracting approximately 50 people from various parts of the city.
Rarely can the arrival of a religious group shake a city as that of the Twelve Tribes in Ithaca. Since the group moved in, local newspapers and community leaders as well as college students and professors have questioned its political, religious and economic practices and, perhaps most damaging, called the Twelve Tribes a cult.
At the core of the argument seems to be a discussion of the relationship between freedom of religion and one city’s unspoken moral code.
“In the popular sense of the word, they’re not a cult. You could say that the Armed Forces or the Catholic Church or a football team is a cult. The term doesn’t mean anything. It’s used by people who would want to denigrate a particular group, and especially new religions,” said Prof. Richard Robbins, anthropology, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, who has been “working with” the group for 12 years.
And so, last night the group called together interested members of the Ithaca community to participate in an open forum on “Who are the Twelve Tribes?”
The air in the inn’s Cayuga Room was fraught with tension as people waited for the forum to begin. Stories of friends of friends who knew people who had to be “deprogrammed” flew in whispered tones around the four concentric circles set up to facilitate discussion, as a Twelve Tribes member promised that the cookies and mat
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November 24, 2003
Recent increases in college presidents’ salaries have risen, for some, into the $800,000 range, leaving many people to question, “How much is too much?” With tuition costs rising and public universities suffering from insufficient state funding, exceptionally high salaries seem inconsistent with university concerns for affordable education. A recent report released by the Chronicle of Higher Education revealed the salaries of college presidents over the 2001-2002 fiscal year. Among the top paid college presidents were Shirley Ann Jackson, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, earning $891,400 in university compensation, not including other benefits or compensation from corporate sources, Gordon Gee of Vanderbilt University, at $852,023 and Judith Rodin of the University of Pennsylvania, at $845,474. The highest-paid president in the public sector was Mary Sue Coleman, of the University of Michigan, who earned $677,500 that year. Former Cornell president Hunter R. Rawlings III made $539,854 in university compensation during the 2001-2002 year, not including other benefits. Since the study was conducted using figures determined prior to the appointment of President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77, his salary is not public record at present. Compensation and special offers do not appear so different from the corporate compensation currently prevalent in the business world. According to Ronald Ehrenberg, the Irving M. Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics and the director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, the role of a university president, in some ways, is similar to that of a company’s chief executive officer. He referred to the job as president of Cornell as a “CEO of an organization that has a budget of over $2 billion a year and [approximately] 9,000 employees.” He explained the importance of a college president’s work, including leading fund-raising and generating revenue for the university. “These are really big jobs,” he said. Ehrenberg does not believe that rising salaries have a significant effect on tuition. “If there are roughly 13,500 undergraduate students and if all of the president’s salaries and benefits were paid for by undergraduate tuition, than each $100,000 of the president’s compensation would cost the typical undergraduate … $7.50,” Ehrenberg said. “It really doesn’t affect undergraduate tuition at all.” “Even though these salaries don’t have a large effect on tuition, … it isn’t socially appropriate to be boasting these salaries,” Ehrenberg said. For many students though, such high salaries seem unreasonable, no matter how demanding the job of a university president might be. “I think that with tuition prices on the rise, it is wasteful to pay university presidents such large salaries when the money can be spent on more productive projects that affect more people,” said Brian Ascher ’04. The process of deciding the salary is based on many factors that are considered by the Compensation Committee of the Board of Trustees, according to Mary Opperman, vice president of human resources. After the committee recommends a salary, the executive committee, a smaller faction of the Compensation Committee, reviews the recommendation. The process typically lasts from March until May. “It’s a pretty complicated and big decision,” Opperman said. Ehrenberg believes the recent dramatic increases in salary are due to what he called “a bidding effort for presidents.” He referred to an incident at the University of Michigan a few years ago when the university offered their current president at the time, Lee C. Bollinger, a large package to convince him to remain at Michigan. Bollinger left for Columbia University, where he has been president since June 2002. When hiring a new president, Michigan could not offer less than they had already offered to Bollinger, so Coleman was offered a comparable amount. “That sort of set off a spiral,” Ehrenberg said. Such events have set an unusual standard for presidential salaries that affect universities across the country. The more noticeable change is the rise in public university presidents’ salaries, as salaries of presidents at private institutions have always been higher than public ones. Archived article by Stephanie Baritz
November 24, 2003
Children across New York State are playing the role of Santa’s elves this year by making squeezie balls, fleecy muffs, message magnets and other simple gifts for elderly Alzheimer’s patients to reduce boredom and agitation among the patients, helping to brighten their days. These presents are created with direction from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Simple Gifts program, a program designed to encourage youths to make simple gifts and to interact with elderly Alzheimer’s patients. “The goal is to create understanding,” said Suzanne Schwarting, 4-H youth development team coordinator for Lewis County Cornell Cooperative Extension, who has used the program. “The goal is not just to gain some skills and make a tangible object but to go and interact with a person with dementia and find out that there is a lot of joy … because you’ve at least made a person smile.” The idea for Simple Gifts came about while Devorah Greenstein ’61 was visiting her mother in a nursing home. Greenstein watched as a volunteer brought her mother a gift — a small, carefully crafted needlepoint cross. Although she appreciated the kindness of the gesture, she was also struck by the impracticality of giving her Jewish mother, who suffered from late stage Alzheimer’s, a needlepoint cross. She decided to find out what types of gifts her mother, and other Alzheimer’s patients, might enjoy. Greenstein, who was at the time the senior extension associate in Agriculture Engineering, worked with Linda Buettner, of the Decker School of Nursing at Binghamton University, to learn what items would be best for Alzheimer’s patients. Greenstein and Buettner drafted instructions for making these items, tested them and handed them over to Charlotte Coffman, senior extension associate at Cornell’s Department of Textiles and Apparel, with the idea that Coffman could carry the project further because of her work with youth organizations such as 4-H. Coffman worked with young people and adult leaders to revise the instructions and to select the best projects to place in a Simple Gifts instruction booklet. The booklet also has information about Alzheimer’s disease and suggestions for interacting with Alzheimer’s patients. “Often people with Alzheimer’s have limited verbal ability,” Coffman said. “They may actually know and recognize things but they can’t always respond. Having something to touch, something to share visually or with their [other] senses allows them to communicate. When they can’t communicate they become very distressed. By having something to do with their hands it calms them down and soothes them and keeps them from becoming agitated.” One of the Simple Gifts is “Message Magnets,” created by gluing words to magnetic strips. Patients can manipulate the magnetic words on a magnetic surface like a cookie sheet to communicate. One day while Greenstein was in a nursing home she watched an elderly woman write, “I love to play piano” with the magnets. Her son immediately turned to the aide and said, “Yes, my mother used to play the piano,” and so they took her to a piano to play. “She started playing and now plays in the nursing home. Nobody knew she played [until she communicated with the magnets],” Greenstein said. “It opens up all kinds of ways to relate.” Another gift is a “Home Decorator Folder,” a portfolio with a photo of a room and wallpaper, fabric and carpet samples for patients to look at and touch. “The residents would love to talk about the old days in their house and their bedrooms because the old days were still alive in their memory,” Greenstein said. “It provides a concrete topic of conversation. Building bridges is so important.” Barbara Baker, extension educator in Erie County and 4-H program leader for the 4-H youth development program, while visiting a nursing home with children bearing Simple Gifts, was struck by the positive interactions she witnessed. “I think sometimes that we’re just really privileged to be present when connections are made from one person to another,” Baker said. “Some of the young people were able to really light a spark with the older people who were losing their memories. The really cool thing about it … is the inter-generational aspect … some of the staff members at the nursing home said that they had never seen these older people be as active and alert as they were around the kids.” Simple Gifts also affects the children who craft the projects, especially those who take the time to deliver them to a nursing home personally. After leaving the nursing home, Baker asked the children she worked with to write what they had learned and what they felt about their visit. One little girl who had listened to an elderly man’s songs and played the piano for him in return wrote, “The part I most enjoyed was working with Abraham. …[He] was a very kind, gentle, loving man … I found out that Abraham loves, loves, loves, loves, loves grapes. He would eat one after the other. …This experience makes me so happy. … Next time I go I must stay a lot longer because I want to learn more about these people and their special needs.” The Simple Gifts program is careful to avoid the use of the word “toys” for the items. In order to show respect for the people who were “our teachers, our doctors and our postmen,” Greenstein labeled her projects “sensory motor items.” Greenstein was saddened when she witnessed nursing home staff treating dementia patients like children. She stressed the importance of creating gifts suitable for adults. “Everybody I’ve ever talked to finds that [Simple Gifts] is intuitively easy to understand,” Greenstein said. “It was important to me for many reasons: because seeing our elders treated as children is very painful, because both of my parents had Alzheimer’s, because I honored them and because my mother was in a nursing home and there was nothing there [for her]. I wanted to bring volunteers into special care units. I wanted ways to decrease agitation. It was because I love 4-H and I love volunteerism, and because I love people.” Archived article by Katy Bishop