April 5, 2005

Prof, Alum Take Pulitzers

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The 2005 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced yesterday at Columbia University, with two Cornellians walking away with the prestigious awards.

Prof. Steven Stucky DMA ’78, Given Foundation Professor of Music, won the prize for music composition for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, while John Hassell ’91 won the prize for breaking news coverage, along with the rest of of the Newark Star-Ledger’s statehouse reporting staff, for their coverage of New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey’s resignation last fall.

Hassell is a former Sun Managing Editor. The awards are given out annually in journalism, arts and letters. “I didn’t see it coming. Usually people who are involved begin to get nervous during the first week of April, but I forgot it was this week,” Stucky said.

“It was a complete surprise,” he added.

Hassell, however, thought that The Star-Ledger had a chance to win, even though they were up against two Southeastern newspapers who were finalists for their hurricane coverage. The Star-Ledger had a reporter at Columbia and listened to the announcement over speakerphone in their newsroom.

“It was remarkable,” Hassell said.

Stucky has been teaching at Cornell since 1980 and serves as the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new music advisor.

“[Second Concerto for Orchestra] is one of my favorite pieces. It is one that I am most proud of,” Stucky said.

It was performed for the first time by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Calif. on March 12, 2004, according to a press release.

Stucky is the second Cornell music faculty member to win the Pulitzer Prize. Prof. Emeritus Karel Husa won the award in 1969.

According to Hassell, The Star-Ledger won the award because of the “depth and breadth” of their reporting.

“We covered the story with an army of reporters,” he said.

Hassell is currently the Perspective Editor at The Star-Ledger, but he was a political reporter when the McGreevey story broke. He co-wrote the lead story that first ran on August 13, 2004.

“We have the biggest statehouse unit in New Jersey and have reporters that have devoted their lives to covering state house politics,” Hassell said.

The award was the first newswriting Pulitzer Prize in New Jersey history.

“It was a quintessential New Jersey story,” he said.

Archived article by Eric Finkelstein
Sun Managing Editor