Upfront: On Resilience

Accepting the Elizabeth Blackwell
Award on behalf of Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg is her daughter,
Jane C. Ginsburg (right), the
Morton L. Janklow Professor of
Literary and Artistic Property Law
at Columbia Law School.

In February, it was my privilege to join with Chair of the Board of Trustees Craig R. Stine ’81, P’17 in paying tribute to the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the 41st recipient of the Elizabeth Blackwell Award. With Justice Ginsburg’s children – Jane Ginsburg in person and James Ginsburg via Zoom – it was a welcome opportunity to celebrate a remarkable public servant who, with quiet determination, became a cultural icon. During a uniquely challenging year, Justice Ginsburg’s strength of character offered a powerful reminder of the human capacity for resilience and perseverance.

Just a few days later, Ali Marpet ’15 put on an incredible performance in the Super Bowl. That singular moment was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication and, as you’ll read on p. 24, Ali is as devoted to his community and family as he is to football. He is bringing great pride to his alma mater and I’m thrilled for his success, as I am for the accomplishments of the many alumni and alumnae profiled in this issue of the magazine. In the following pages are stories of resilience and triumph of alums who are deeply engaged in their work and who draw inspiration from the lessons and mentors they encountered here on campus.

The Year of Engagement I announced last fall has taken on new meaning as we have navigated the many complexities of teaching and learning in person during a pandemic. Against the backdrop of COVID-19, there have been moments of celebration great and small: awards and honors for students and faculty, the arrival of spring blossoms, the availability of vaccines, and seeing loved ones in person. Among the highlights was the extraordinary outpouring of support the Colleges received during a record-breaking Athletics Day of Donors when, in just 24 hours, the Herons and Statesmen donated more than $800,000 to support our student athletes. Many thanks to James F. ’56, L.H.D. ’12 and Cynthia L. Caird L.H.D. ’12 for their assistance in helping us to jumpstart that day, and for their commitment to the Colleges over many years.

As we head into graduation season, the Colleges will celebrate the Classes of 2021 in May and, after a year-long delay due to the pandemic, the Classes of 2020 in June. Both ceremonies will be live on the Quad and available to watch online. After a year of Zoom meetings and virtual gatherings, I know I speak for everyone on campus when I say how excited we are to congratulate our most recent graduates in person.

Those live celebrations will hopefully be harbingers of what is to come – a lively fall semester with the return to fully in-person classes; concerts, lectures and symposia bringing people together; athletics competition in full flight; and the reoccurrence of traditions like Homecoming. As we look ahead to the Bicentennial in 2022, we do so fully anticipating that we will be able to all gather again in community on the shore of Seneca Lake.


Joyce P. Jacobsen, President