New gifts, projects build momentum
Momentum for the Greater > Than campaign continues with the announcement of three major gifts to the sciences and the endowment. The addition of two, new, fully funded projects in athletics are adding to the excitement on campus.
The college’s $35 million Science Facilities Project has now surpassed $33 million raised. Jim McWethy ’65, the namesake of McWethy Hall, committed $365,000 for the Science Facilities Project, and Ralph “Chris” Christoffersen ’59 and Barbara Christoffersen committed $250,000. The four-story Russell Science Center is progressing ahead of schedule and classes are expected to begin in the new space by late fall.
A gift from Sheryl Atkinson Stoll ’70 and honorary alumnus Bill Stoll to endow the Stoll Program for Law and Society provided a significant boost to our endowment growth. Sheryl was the leading proponent and a key architect of Cornell’s pre-law program, which launches our students to some of the country’s top law schools and supports our nationally ranked mock trial team.
Ash Park Stadium is the first campus landmark visible as you enter Mount Vernon from the west, and that impression will be dramatically improved next fall when it reopens as Van Metre Field at Ash Park. The stadium will be transformed with a new entrance, home-team bleachers, restrooms, and concessions space. The project builds on and culminates Ash Park renovations since 2012, including a synthetic turf field with lighting, a resurfaced track, and the fully renovated baseball field.
The Van Metre family graciously donated $1.5 million to renovate Ash Park for football, lacrosse, and track & field competition. Mount Vernon native Dave Van Metre led the contributions for this project, joined by his sister-in-law, CeCe Van Metre, and their families. Dave’s brother and CeCe’s husband, the late Douglas C. Van Metre ’50, was a Cornell Life Trustee, football player, and assistant football coach. Dave’s father, Douglas U. Van Metre, served as a Cornell Trustee and college treasurer, and his mother, Mary Van Metre, was the first children’s librarian at Cornell. His uncle Joe Meade, Class of 1917, was the dean of men and Aunt Harriet Meade was the director of physical education for women at Cornell. CeCe’s grandfather, Charles J. Lynch, attended Cornell in the 1890s.
Cornell’s soccer fields are also getting upgraded facilities. Trustee Jan Thomas ’80 (yes, the daughter of Rev. Thomas), her husband Gary Doernhoefer, and their son Eric Doernhoefer ’13, a Cornell soccer player, approached the college to fund a $345,000 renovation to a soccer practice field. That field will become the competition field in fall 2019, complete with a restroom facility and fencing. Also contributing were Life Trustee Lee Swanson ’60 and his wife, honorary alumna Jacqui Swanson; and Trustee Scott Simmer ’73 and his wife, Peg Schoen. Lee and Jacqui, longtime supporters of Ram athletics, contributed to the Ash Park Stadium project as well.