Summer 2010 Letters

Reflections on Garner presidency

I have only met President and Mrs. Garner once but was impressed by them both, and I enjoyed getting to know them better through the article “Portrait of a Presidency.” It seems the Garners are wonderful caretakers of the campus, the students, and the legacy of Cornell.

Dani Noe ’91
Palm Coast, Fla.

I just finished reading the latest issue of the Cornell Report and found it very interesting and inspirational. It made me proud to be a Cornellian (again/still), and I sent my copy to my best friend whose son is considering Cornell. I enjoyed reading the article about Les and Katrina Garner’s presidency—it gave a terrific overview of recent college history that many alumni may not have known.

I think the most exciting additions to campus are the programs that have been developed over the past few years (Dimensions, Fellows, Berry Center, etc.).

I especially loved the “What you should know” piece, which introduced readers to disciplines that they didn’t have a chance to study or only touched on during their Cornell years. I would like to see more of that!

This issue reinforced my desire to continue to support Cornell with my time and the resources I have available—we alumni should feel proud of what we have helped Cornell accomplish over the past 15 years under President Garner’s leadership. The sense of connection that Cornell alumni feel with our alma mater long after we have graduated is what continues to make Cornell College a very special place.

Sheila Kruse Boyce ’85
Miami, Fla.

While Les Garner’s tenure began well after my graduation in 1977, I have always read with interest about his impact on the college and its future direction. Now is the time for him and Katrina to plan their own future paths! A recent Cornell Report described the elaborate pizza parties that the Garners hosted, complete with Katrina’s homemade pizzas. I would love to see the recipe for one of her creations in a future publication.

Carol Donauer Brodie ’77
Arlington Heights, Ill.

Remembering Robert Dana


Robert Dana was one of the best reasons there ever was for attending Cornell College. He was a friend and mentor to many of his students over the years and many of these relationships continued beyond college into the present. Cornell was rich with professors who spent time with us outside the classroom. In those days when I attended, the list included the Van Fossens, Phillip Marshall, Ken Freeman, Steve Tudor, and many others. Stephen Lacey, who was a fellow student and a friend of mine, carried on that tradition when he became a professor of English at Cornell.

As poet and writer, rp has left an exceptional legacy. He had a special sense of vocation and he shared this with his many—his very many—friends. I will also remember spending time with him at Argonne National Laboratory, at Poetry Magazine’s reading in Chicago, and in Berkeley, Calif., where he met the boyfriend I eventually married.

He was generous with his time and his knowledge. Simply said, we loved him, and we feel a great sense of loss at his passing.

Kathleen Tracy Colwill ’64
Berwyn, Penn.

Robert Dana was one of my cherished mentors. He was chair of the department the year I—a very damp-behind- the-ears visiting instructor— was hired to the tenure track at Cornell. He helped me have a chance. He taught me more than I knew at the time about how to have a healthy perspective on college affairs, how to navigate the complexities of generational differences in our department, and how to have and hold my own kind of integrity. Together with Stephen Lacey, though (of course) in a very different way, he taught me to be the professor—and now administrator—I wanted to be. No more committees to grind the heart to powder, Robert.

I cherish his memory and our friendship and am profoundly grateful to him for his kindness and patience with my younger self.

David Evans (English, 1990-2000)
VP for Academic Affairs
Buena Vista University
Storm Lake, Iowa

The single most important teacher in my life, aside from my mother. From freshman English reading Raymond Carver to senior year Poetry Writing I and II. He shaped what I wrote then and what I do today. I was such a punky know-it-all. He had us over to his house once and served blue tortilla chips. I was so impressed. I thought of him often since 1994 and didn’t write. What a lesson just learned about staying in touch. Yesterday I made a Carver reference in a business e-mail, just to make myself smile. Professor Dana, I miss you.

Amy Winger ’94
Kansas City, Mo.

During my first year at Cornell, in 1965, I met Bob when I volunteered to stuff envelopes with the North American Review in the years after the revival. I took two classes from Bob during tumultuous years at Cornell—1968–1969. He was a solid presence during the upheaval, remaining both compassionate and somewhat separate from it all. Twenty years later, I took a writing workshop with him at Morningside College. He
remembered me, and spoke with me as if no time had passed. I want to honor Bob for the kind clarity of his teaching, and for the deeply moving poem (I’ve forgotten its name, but not its impact) of returning to his hometown in Massachusetts. There was a line there about no one remaining there who even remembered his name. Bob Dana, we remember your name.

Steve Simmer ’69
Northhampton, Mass.

Editor’s note: More than 40
people have posted tributes to Dana on
his remembrance page.