An early class project!

     First, I should tell you that I am the only president of the Class of '44 who was ever actually ensconced on the campus of our Alma Mater - for two five-year terms, and much more than that.
     It was in this capacity that I was walking past the Law School one day, when I happened to look across the street and was appalled to see the messy corner lot that was part of the southern entrance to our University. I refer to the triangle on the southwest corner of the junction of Central Avenue and Campus Road.
     Could '44 take on the restoration of this area and have the project fully funded by our Class?
     I had to clear this with the Development Office and this took some doing because my proposal - in the minds of a few - seemed to threaten ’44's Cornell Fund collections. I begged for the chance to try to raise some money for this campus beautification project for which the University had no funds, and - finally - ’44 got the green light to go ahead.
     I then asked "Development" to let me know how much we’d have to raise in order to plant some BIG trees, some attractive shrubbery, and other plantings, and to install a marble bench inscribed with the words, "The Class of 1944 Corner." The bench was to be placed just off the sidewalk near the entry to Hollister Hall.

A sizable tab!

    They came back with a tab in excess of $5,000! In the early ’70s, $5,000 was a lot of money and I wasn't sure if we could raise it. However, the other Class officers agreed that we should try it . . A letter went out seeking funds and making it quite clear that this "campus beautification" effort was something new. The mailing stressed that it was not to be confused with the annual "Cornell Fund" drive, nor was the mailing to be used as an excuse for not contributing to that fund.
     The money from our classmates poured in and the University, somewhat amazed, went right to work. The "beautification" was quickly accomplished and ’44's marble bench was put in place.
     As a final touch, I researched the University records for the names of those Class of 1944 men who gave their lives in the defense of this nation in World War II. I had their names set in type, placed on parchment paper, and had an enlarged, framed version of this document hung in the entry hallway of Hollister Hall.
     It was a highly emotional event for me and for the other Cornell folks who were there when this record of those who had made the supreme sacrifice was put in place. The placard has since been replaced by the bronze tablet that now hangs in our own Class of ’44 Memorial Room.
     This ’70's project was such a success that other classes soon found numerous places on campus to underwrite their own beautification projects. The bottom line: the results achieved by the Class of '44 set in motion a whole new way for classes to participate in helping the University.
     Interestingly, the Cornell Fund soared in the year following the completion of these class projects. For me it was an exciting thing and fun to do and I really do appreciate this opportunity that has been given to me to tell you so.

Charlie Williams
, Past President, '44
Charlie's License Plate
 
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