September 8, 2011

10 YEARS LATER | First Reactions from Cornellians

Print More

“I was out jogging that morning and just coming in to my wife putting on the coffee, and she said, ‘Get over and look at the TV.’ We finally got the idea when the second plane hit, because we refused to accept it, that this was not an accident, and we felt a million miles away. I was just blank.” — Prof. Theodore Lowi, government

“I was in New York City to do a morning TV show. On the set, there were huge monitors that typically show what cameras they’re using, when all of a sudden they went blank. Then came a picture of smoke coming out of one of the towers … It looked like it was a clip from a movie … We were encouraged to leave if we could, so I started to walk back to the hotel; it was like a ghost town. There was no traffic anywhere … As I looked south I saw a curtain of white smoke from street level to as high as I could see in the sky.” — Prof. James Maas, psychology

“I had been the Dean of Students for a couple months at that time. I was sitting in this office on my computer when my wife called, and she said, ‘You may want to turn on the TV; a plane just hit the World Trade Center.’ It immediately went like lightening through the administration … Every [school] year has a moment that defines it: elections, Katrina, H1N1. 9/11 was the biggest of them all. An event like that is such that it prompts you to remember exactly where you were when you heard.” — Kent Hubbell ’67, dean of students

“I was at Purdue University in Indiana in a department meeting when we got news of the events occurring in New York and in Washington. There were people even in the Midwest that had family and friends in Manhattan and D.C. On that day all work stopped, meetings were canceled and people huddled around their computer screens or the radio … Somehow the whole country, and world, would be different. We didn’t know how, but we knew things would change.”

— Kent Fuchs, provost

“I had been teaching an early freshman writing class up on North Campus and I was walking back to my office in Day Hall. As I was crossing the Arts Quad I saw some students running very fast and yelling, and I had no idea what had happened. One student ran past me saying something like ‘They attacked us.’ I got back to my office and learned a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.”

— Hunter R. Rawlings III, then-president

“I was in my lab in the morning, and I was talking to a visiting scientist about my research, when someone came in and said a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Then the second place crashed and it was clear that it was in fact an act of terrorism … The feeling on campus was just shock that, one, something like this would happen, and also, that we realized this would be deeply personal for a lot of Cornellians.”— Prof. Cole Gilbert, entomology

Original Author: Christa Nianiatus