April 3, 2006

C.U. in Washington Celebrates 25th Anniversary

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The Cornell-in-Washington (CIW) program celebrated its 25th anniversary this past weekend, as alumni gathered to reminisce, meet with current students and listen to speakers.

The event’s two alumni panels, open to all D.C.-area Cornell alumni, were televised on C-SPAN. The first, “The New Electoral Map: From the Gingrich Revolution to 2008,” had two alumni speakers: Kathleen A. Frankovic ’68, producer for CBS News, and Carl Leubsdorf ’59, Washington Bureau Chief at Dallas Morning News. Prof. Theodore Lowi, senior professor of American Institutions and Prof. Walter Mebane, Jr., government, also joined the panel.

The second panel featured two Congressmen: Rep. Mark Kirk ’81 (R-IL) and Rep. Bob Filner ’63, Ph.D. ’73 (D-CA). Prof. Joel Sibley, President White professor of history and Jeanne Cummings, political correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, also discussed “Congress in the Balance: Politics, Policies and the Midterm Elections.”

Prof. Stuart Blumin, director of the Cornell-in-Washington program, said, “[The symposium was] a lively discussion of public issues … we wanted to do something substantial that would reflect the character of CIW.”

On Saturday, a reunion lunch at the Canon Caucus room was held for 100 CIW alumni. Participants could also tour the National Gallery, the Senate Rare Books Room in the Library of Congress and the National Museum of the American Indian. At night, a reception was held at the Cornell Center in Dupont Circle, where alumni spoke with current CIW students about their experiences in Washington, D.C.

Jonathan Freiberger ’85, who attended the reunion with several of his former CIW friends, said, “My experience here was a lot of fun. CIW was a nice juxtaposition against campus life. It was a growing experience to study independently.”

Shelby Kaplan Nickles ’86, Maggie McNamara Jackson ’86 and Maria Gallo Ashbrook ’85 became friends when they were roommates at CIW in the fall of 1984 and came back to see their old bedroom.

“The program affected both our personal lives and professional lives. We had our own little reunion 21 years later. I feel like I’m back in college,” Jackson said.

Ashbrook added, “This intimate program at Cornell University gave us a way to bond and connect. None of us were in the Greek system, so this was a wonderful alternative for us.”

Another CIW alumna, Mary Ellen Bavaro ’89 shared her own views on the program, saying, “This program is awesome, especially because it has expanded to encompass more majors than government and history.”

“No matter what you end up working in, to understand the connection between public policy and professional life is huge … I have a better network in D.C. from CIW more than anything else,” she added.

Several current students also attended the reception, where they spoke with alumni.

“Meeting CIW alumni was like looking into my future,” Adam Friedland ’07 said. “CIW is such a great program because it affords so many great opportunities like this one,”

added Joanna Lieberman ’07, “Several alumni came to our room and told us stories from their experience living here. I hope that in 25 years, at the 50th anniversary I will be able to share my Washington experience with current students.”

Overall, Prof. Blumin considered the weekend a “great success.”

CIW began in the spring of 1980 to give Cornell students a smaller school setting and access to D.C. Though the program began with six students, about 50 people take part in the program each semester. Students participate in an externship, write a research paper and take elective classes.

Archived article by Rachel Nayman
Sun Staff Writer