Jonathan Brand and Rachelle LaBarge, 2011 Honorary Alumni Award

Jonathan and Rachelle, we welcomed you into the Cornell community just three and half months ago, and already you have called us to a higher purpose and shown us examples of how we as a community will grow and thrive under your leadership.

Jonathan Brand and Rachelle LaBarge
Rachelle LaBarge, President Jonathan Brand, and Alumni Board President Allan Ruter ’76.

Jonathan, we’re grateful that you’ve begun by listening and learning. You’ve taken the time to meet with each faculty member individually, to meet with each office staff as a group, to thoroughly read and absorb Cornell’s history, to get to know many current students, to greet dozens of families as they began their college journey during new student orientation, and to reach out to many alumni. From this starting point, you have created a strategic planning process that welcomes input from many voices and perspectives, and we look forward to our work together.

We’re inspired by your fierce conviction that the liberal art are not only relevant but crucial in developing citizens capable of meeting the challenges of our complex, fast-changing, global society. You remind us that the opportunities we offer students matter, and that Cornell has a unique and powerful approach to learning that should be trumpeted and celebrated.

We’re kept on our toes by your attention to detail, and we’re warmed by your personal touch. We’ve become accustomed to your insistence on excellence in the way we portray Cornell to the wider world, and we’ve also become accustomed to handwritten notes of thanks, requests for feedback on your work, and warm personal interactions, often given a touch of elegance with a few words in French.

And we’re happy that as a family you have found ways to engage in your new home beyond campus.  The two of you spent a morning shoulder to shoulder with first-year students on a local farm.  We’ve seen you and your children at the farmers market, in uptown stores and restaurants, attending high school cross country meets, walking in the Heritage Days parade, running in the Sauerkraut Days 5k, and contributing your input to community improvement projects.

For the gifts you have already brought to our shared lives together and for the many gifts yet to be revealed, the Alumni Association proclaims you as honorary alumni.