October 10, 2013

Cornell Outdoor Education Gets New Director

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Former charter school principal and outdoor guide Marc Magnus-Sharpe began working as the new director of Cornell Outdoor Education Thursday.

Magnus-Sharpe said he is looking forward to “combining everything in my life that I love to do” in his new position as the director of COE.

“This job is the perfect merger of all my past experiences inside the classroom and outdoors,” he said. He went on to say he is most excited about being “in a community of amazing people.”

As director of COE, Magnus-Sharpe will be responsible for fundraising for the outdoor education department, an effort that will keep the cost of activities reasonable for students and help expand COE programs.

“Marc’s fund-raising prowess can support us in extending our offerings to many underserved groups and participants,” said Jim Volckhausen ’88, assistant director of the Cornell Team and Leadership Center in Cornell Athletics.

COE organizes and leads trips to places like the Hoffman Ropes Course, canoeing, rock-climbing on Cornell’s rock wall, cycling and snowshoeing. Some trips go as far away as South America or Antarctica. The program has 22 instructors, many of whom are students.

Chris Leeming, land programs coordinator for COE, who worked under Magnus-Sharpe when he was a director of Outward Bound, praised Magnus-Sharpe’s commitment to “the development of people through outdoor experiences.”

Since their time at Outward Bound, a non-profit educational organization, both Leeming and Magnus-Sharpe have ended up at COE.

“[Our whole department believes] that people benefit from doing new and different experiences. Our role is to provide instruction and a safe environment for the Cornell community to engage in these activities,” Leeming said. “We also believe very deeply in the wellness component that is provided by COE classes, not only are people learning a new skill, but they are doing this with a group of people in a beautiful location.”

In the upcoming year, Magnus-Sharpe said he hopes to “take the time to meet individually with everyone in COE, to listen closely and understand the priorities.”

“I want to make sure COE is right there at the top when people start to mention programs that make Cornell one of a kind,” Magnus-Sharpe said.

Although many students at Cornell likely spend more time in the library than outdoors, Magnus-Sharpe said he thinks COE can help students with their academics.

“I love how COE helps take so much stress off students when they can go hike or climb for a while. Even thirty minutes of activity can get the oxygen saturation right back to 100 percent. You actually grow more neurons and learn faster,” he said.

Magnus-Sharpe brings experience in both school administration and outdoor education to his new position. He worked as the director of the Discover Outdoors Foundation — which takes urban students from New York City outdoors for a day — for the past two years.

Magnus-Sharpe has also been a guide with Discover Outdoors, where he led many day and multi-day trips for groups with a wide range of ages into the Adirondacks and Catskill Mountains. He has also worked as a New York Emergency Medical Technician instructor and a New York State Certified Wilderness Guide.

Magnus-Sharpe also has a background in education. He served as a principal at a public charter school in Brooklyn, New York and as the dean of students at the United Nations International School in Manhattan, New York.