Ithaca College Quarterly 2005/1

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The East Hill Connectionby Jim Roberts and Maura Stephens

Collaboration, cooperation, and even competition between Ithaca College and that other institution in town -- Cornell University -- enrich us all.

View of the Hills

W. Grant Egbert
Ezra Cornell

Year founded
IC: 1892
CU: 1865

Number of students (Ithaca campus)
IC : 6,350
CU: 19,620

Number of faculty
IC: 616
CU: 2,630

Percentage of students on need-based financial aid
IC: 69
CU: 49

Percentage of students from New York State
IC: 47
CU: 35

Percentage of students of color
IC: 8
CU: 15

Average class size
IC: 15 students
CU: 24 students

Annual tuition (undergraduate)
IC: $25,194
CU: $28,754

Percentage of students who go on to graduate school within first year after graduation
IC: 37
CU: 34

Percentage of students who live on campus
IC: 74
CU: 42

Number of registered Greek-letter organizations
IC: 4
CU: 68

Graduation rate, 6 years
IC: 76 percent
CU: 92 percent

Freshman-to-sophomore-year retention
IC: 87 percent
CU: 87 percent

Percentage of international students
IC: 4
CU: 7

Tuition and fees (undergraduate)
IC: $25,194
CU: $31,467 (endowed colleges)
$17,367 (state colleges, residents)
$30,367 (state, nonresidents)

Popular majors
IC: business administration, music, physical therapy, television-radio
CU: biology, economics, history

Popular myths
IC: If a virgin graduates, the Textor Ball will roll off its pedestal and down the hill.
CU: If a virgin crosses the Arts Quad as the clock tower strikes midnight, the statues of A. D. White and Ezra Cornell will step down from their pedestals, meet in the middle of the quad, shake hands, dance, and switch places.

Stories Inside:

Best of Both Campuses -- Taking classes on the other hill
What Students Think -- IC students on CU; CU students on IC
Sustainability -- IC and CU help grow the Sustainable Tompkins.
Give and Take -- Professor Nancy Ramage on art history collaborations
Woman's Work -- Cornell alumna-administrator and IC board member Francille Firebaugh
The Voice of Ithaca -- Former CU spokesperson David Stewart '67
Bridging Campuses -- and Cultures -- Sociology professor Hector Vélez
Care Ball -- Basketball teams get together to fight cancer.
Ensemble X -- Intercampus group brings new music to life.
Astral Alliances -- Astronomical collaborations
Freedom of the Pen -- The City of Asylum project
For the Greater Good -- Together in community service
Connections: Short Takes -- Gerontology, psychology, art, and service<
They sit atop East Hill and South Hill, with the gorges city of Ithaca sprawled across the valley between them. Each has grown from modest beginnings to impressive physical dimensions, and each has made a name for itself that resonates far beyond Tompkins County. Cornell University and Ithaca College are the twin pillars of the local economy and society, yet each often operates as if the other weren't there. Or so it seems, anyway, to casual observers.

The reality is much richer and more complex. The connections between CU and IC span many years and have taken many forms, from academic collaborations to sports competitions to the many casual interactions that take place at spots like Moosewood and the Ithaca Farmers Market. These ties serve to deepen and extend the educational and cultural missions of both institutions.

The relationship traces its roots back to the early years of both schools. Perhaps the earliest intersection involved the Fernow family. When the Ithaca Conservatory of Music was founded by William Grant Egbert in 1892, its faculty included Sophie Fernow, whose brother Bernard would become the director of the short-lived College of Forestry at Cornell. The Fernows were the first of many siblings and others whose families would have ties to both schools.

Cornell University, founded by Ezra Cornell, enrolled its first class -- of 412 students -- in 1868 under first president A.D. White. A top research university, CU awarded the nation's first degree in veterinary medicine and the world's first in journalism, and established the first four-year schools of hotel administration and industrial and labor relations. Ithaca College was founded on a shoestring as a music conservatory by violinist William Grant Egbert. First housed in scattered downtown buildings, it moved in the 1960s to its present location, once a farm. A comprehensive college, IC is known for its teaching emphasis and dedication to giving students the chance to "perform" -- via hands-on learning activities -- from their first day on campus.

In the early days Cornell relied on the Conservatory -- which became Ithaca College in 1931 -- to provide music instruction for its students. In his History of Cornell, Morris Bishop, CU '14, Ph.D. '26, reports: "The Conservatory took over the music in Sage Chapel, our student singers receiving two hours credit." (The Ithaca College Story, written by IC professor John B. Harcourt, who just passed away this spring, recounts the same story.) In return, Cornell's faculty offered language instruction to students from the Conservatory. With that began an academic exchange that has continued to this day.

The relationship has also manifested itself in the form of athletic competition. The Big Red and Bomber football teams scrimmage every fall, the baseball squads have vied for the Mayor's Cup, and the Coaches against Cancer basketball game is growing into an annual fund-raising institution. Coaches who graduated from one hill have also made the trek to the other; to name just two well-known examples, Anita Krook, CU '87, an outstanding rower at Cornell, became the crew coach at IC, and IC's legendary Ted Thoren '49, M.S. '53, was Cornell's head baseball coach from 1962 to 1990.

The relationship has not been without its bumps. Insults have sometimes been hurled by students and faculty, and alumni have been known to express disdain for their counterparts across the way. One especially low point occurred in 1933, when Ithaca College was in difficult financial straits and appealed for help to Cornell president Livingston Farrand. "The college can't possibly succeed," Farrand wrote to IC board chair Louis P. Smith. "My suggestion is that you go down the hill, close the college down, lock the doors, and throw the keys in Lake Cayuga." Fortunately, Smith did not take Farrand's advice.

If you would like to see our "sister issue" in Cornell Alumni Magazine, with some shared stories, some similar-but-different articles, and some completely different materials, please send a check for $5 to Cornell Alumni Magazine, South Hill Issue, 401 East State Street, Ithaca, NY 14850.

Today the interactions are widespread and multifaceted. Students at each school are free to study at the other (up to 12 credits without added fees), and there are frequent academic collaborations. Music still plays a central role, as witnessed by Ensemble X and the many area musical groups with players from both schools. Cornell benefits from Ithaca College's expertise in cinema and photography, while IC can partake of CU's libraries and resources for science and engineering. And between downtown and Collegetown and the myriad outdoor destination spots shared by the two institutions, there is no shortage of places for students, faculty, and staff to meet and interact (and even, not infrequently, court and marry).

This special issue is just the latest joint project of the two schools. The staffs of Cornell Alumni Magazine and the ICQ have enjoyed the research and collaborative process that enabled us to bring it to you; we hope you enjoy the fruits of those efforts. It would be impossible to catalog all of the many collaborations and connections between Cornell and Ithaca College, but we have assembled what we hope is a representative sample. If you'd like to point out others, or tell us your own CU-IC story, please write.

Jim Roberts '71 is editor and publisher of Cornell Alumni Magazine. Maura Stephens is editor of the ICQ. They would like to thank Fred Antil '55, former board member of the Cornell Alumni Federation and current adviser to the Friends of Ithaca College, for providing the impetus for this article.

Student interview photos by Sheryl D. Sinkow; illustrations by Brian Jensen

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