Ezra’s Oracle welcomes inquiries from members of the Cornell community about anything and everything related to the University. We seek out answers to campus mysteries, research rumors, and investigate issues of relevance to Cornellians. Questions can be submitted via email to [email protected]
Q: How long has the Introduction to Wines course been taught at Cornell?
— Cabernet Connoisseur ’16
A: The popular Hotel School course is one of the common experiences shared by generations of Cornell students. More than 42,000 students have taken Wines since its inception in 1972. The course was originally created by Prof. Vance Christian ’61, M.S. ’65, hotel administration, who believed that “social competence is just as essential as academic and technical competence in today’s world.” One of the first black faculty members at Cornell, Christian was highly respected in the hospitality management industry worldwide and served as a mentor to countless Cornellians before his death in 1984.
Q: What’s the story behind the “Ithaca is Gorges” phrase?
— Ithaca is Cold ’14
A: The ubiquitous “Ithaca is Gorges” slogan was coined by Cornellian Howard Cogan ’50, MPS ’80 in the 1970s, capturing the beauty of Ithaca’s natural areas. Cogan spent his career working in advertising and public relations, later joining the faculty of the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. To help promote the Ithaca area and local tourism, Cogan chose not to trademark his famous catchphrase, allowing businesses to use it freely. Decades later, Cogan’s legacy lives on and “Ithaca is Gorges” has established itself as a key part of our local identity.
Q: Is there a connection between The Wizard of Oz and Cornell?
— Wicked Witch of West Campus ’15
A: In addition to reports of the occasional flying monkey on Slope Day, Oz author L. Frank Baum does have ties to Cornell. Baum’s wife, Maud Gage, entered Cornell with the Class of 1884, and her name appears in 1880’s inaugural issue of The Cornell Sun as one of 19 women in a freshmen class of 131. Gage’s Sage Hall roommate was Baum’s cousin, and Gage left the university as a sophomore to marry Baum in 1882. Two of the Baum’s children attended Cornell. When The Wizard of Oz film opened in 1939, the titular character of the Wizard was played by Frank Morgan, Class of 1912.
Q: Is Dryden Road named for hockey player Ken Dryden ’69?
— Not a Sieve ’14
A: Dryden Road pre-dates hockey legend Ken Dryden ’69 considerably. Although some Cornellians may never venture beyond the confines of Collegetown, Dryden Road follows Route 366 and then Route 13 to the town of Dryden east of campus. The town was surveyed back in 1790 and named for English poet and playwright John Dryden, born more than 300 years before Ken Dryden. The hockey-playing Dryden was Cornell’s men’s ice hockey goalie for its 1967 NCAA championship. His hockey career continued with the Montreal Canadiens, where he won six Stanley Cups and numerous other accolades. He has since authored numerous books, served as president of the Toronto Maple Leafs and was a member of the Canadian Parliament.
Q: Based on recent news coverage, Mayor of Ithaca Svante Myrick ’09 seems to be at odds with the University often. Is it common for Cornellians to serve as Ithaca’s mayor?
— Future Frank Underwood ’17
A: Town-gown relations can sometimes be challenging, and many of our local leaders and university administrators have struggled with the balance. Three of the last five mayors of Ithaca have been Cornell alumni, and many of the non-Cornellian mayors have had other ties to the university. Former mayor Ben Nichols ’41, M.Eng. ’49 spent his career on the faculty of the College of Engineering and was one of the most outspoken protesters when Cornell turned a small woodland area known as Redbud Woods into a parking lot in 2005. Former mayor John Gutenberger, namesake of the Boatyard Grill’s delicious “Gutenberger” burger, currently works in Cornell’s Office of Community Relations. One of the earliest Cornellian mayors of Ithaca was Jared Treman Newman, Class of 1875, who served from 1907 to 1908. Newman was a Cornell trustee and one of the original owners of the Cayuga Heights area.
Curious about Cornelliana? Looking for Cornell lore behind a legend? Submit your questions to [email protected] Ezra’s Oracle appears alternate Fridays this semester.