Alumni Relations

When the World Trade Center in New York City was destroyed in September 2001, plans to hold a gathering of CS alumni in Manhattan had already been underway for months. New Yorkers are nothing if not resilient and a small number encouraged us to go ahead with our plans despite the tragic events of 9/11. We agreed and a scaled-back gathering was held on November 15 at the Cornell Club on East 44th Street. The event took place on a balmy fall evening and some thirty alumni showed up to share stories and ponder the future. This first gathering in New York was intentionally low-key, limited mainly to people with whom we had remained in closest contact. On balance it was a surprisingly upbeat affair and there was enthusiastic support for future events in the city.

            That same evening, Dean Robert Constable was gathering with a much larger group of alumni at the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park, California (near Stanford University). Professor Constable gave a talk to entitled “Cornell in the Information Age: Research and Education for the Future”. Nearly 100 people were in attendance and the feedback we received from the event made it clear that our Bay Area alumni are keen on playing an active role in the development of CIS at Cornell.

            One month earlier, on October 16, a special gathering and celebration was held in Upson Hall to dedicate the “Charles F. and Barbara D. Weiss Directorship of Information Science Program in Computing and Information Science”. Chuck Weiss ’66, wife Barbara, and daughter Jessica were on hand to officially christen the new program and named directorship. Jessica Weiss ’03 is a senior in Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences.

            More recently, a talk was given in April 2002 by Jeff Hawkins ’79. Hawkins was the cofounder of Palm Computing and now serves as the chairman of Handspring, Inc., another palmtop company that he cofounded. His talk was part of a distinguished-lecture series sponsored by CIS. The title of his talk was, “Synapses to Silicon: How Neuroscience Will Impact the Next Fifty Years of Computing”. Gene Myers, vice president of informatics at Celera Genomics, gave a talk in November that was sponsored by CIS and the Cornell Genomics Initiative. The title of his talk was “Whole Genome Assembly: Tactical and Strategic Implications”.

            Nikola Valerjev ’96 was again instrumental in obtaining sponsorship from his company, Green Hills Software, for two Cornell programming teams which represented Cornell in the ACM Regional Programming contest during the fall. One of those Cornell teams won first place and the right to travel to Hawaii to compete in the world finals.

            This year’s Degenfelder Family Scholarship was awarded to Ben Mathew ’03 and Vlad Muste ’04. The two split the $5,000 award, which was created to recognize students who are working at the boundary between computer science and biology. Joseph R. Degenfelder ’60 and his wife Dr. Pauline Degenfelder ’61 worked with Professor Ron Elber to establish an endowment for this special award.

            This year’s Jonathan E. Marx Senior Prizes were presented to Amit Gupta ’02 and Douglas C. Mitarotonda ’02 as part of the CS graduation ceremony in Statler Auditorium on May 26, 2002. Jonathan E. Marx ’85 was a CS major who died in a skiing accident shortly after his graduation in 1985. The Marx family established the Marx Senior Prizes to recognize students who have most demonstrated a positive spirit among their classmates, held significant leadership roles, and have been of service in the community. The Marx family also established a teaching award in the name of Jonathan’s father, the late Alan S. Marx, J.D. ’61. The Alan Marx Memorial Prize for Excellence Supporting Undergraduate Education was awarded to Emmanuel T. Schanzer ’02, recognizing his efforts as consultant and teaching assistant for CS 212/312.

            For more information about alumni relations in CIS or CS, please contact the writer of the above, Dan Jenkins, at