Farewell Oprah, hello Cornell

Oprah will probably have bid farewell to the Windy City before Cornell creates its academic nest there. The search is on for the right piece of real estate for a college annex, something near downtown to give students the best access to all that Chicago has to offer.

Funded by Bob McLennan ’65 and Becky Martin McLennan ’64, the goal is to give Cornell students numerous opportunities to study in Chicago and to yet again leverage the benefit of the block plan calendar.

exopps-chicagoAlready, professors bring students to Chicago for its metropolitan lessons in art, business, history, and other subjects, Bob McLennan said. But they have to find places to stay and space for classroom teaching. A center, on the other hand, will simplify the logistics, ramp up the opportunities, attract more students, and give a home away from the Hilltop to Chicago area alumni.

“Sometimes a change of scenery brings fresh ideas and new enthusiasm,” said Becky McLennan.

And while the McLennans are busy paving a road to take students off campus for big-city excitement, Richard Williams ’63 is committed to bringing excitement to campus. He and his wife, Marlene, created the Williams Fund to bring to the Hilltop live performers and speakers who appeal to students.

Taking students to the world of Chicago versus bringing that world to campus are interchangeable in intent. Williams wants students to taste the world in person, in addition to textbook, iPad, or big screen TV. What Williams wants is for students to recognize the specific thrill that comes with seeing something or someone live.

A native of the Chicago area, Williams craved the action of a large metro area and watched, when he could, the Bears play in black and white on the one TV in Olin Hall. But when live entertainment came to campus, Williams was there. The Williams Fund ensures that current students experience that same enlightenment.