"Cornell is unique among American research universities and in the Ivy League. . . . It aspires to the ideals of Ezra Cornell, who founded an institution 'where any one person could find instruction in any study.' . . . Cornell has played a distinctive role in democratizing higher education, while helping to shape the American university's post-Civil War commitment to useful service to American society and to the world. The undergraduate experience has been the heart of life on East Hill, 'far above Cayuga's Waters.' Its undergraduates have lived the ideals carved into the Eddy Street gate: 'So enter that daily thou mayest become more learned and thoughtful. So depart that daily thou mayest become more useful to thy country and to mankind.' It is our privilege and honor to single out and, in most cases, pay tribute to Cornell's most distinguished sons and daughters."-from the PrefaceGraduates of Cornell University have achieved remarkable success in all areas from literature and photography to economics and agriculture, from finance and chemistry to athletics and the stage. They have held positions of leadership in boardrooms and classrooms, blazed new paths in medicine and journalism, acted on lofty ideals and strong ambition. Cornellians are regulars in Stockholm, on the bestseller lists, and in high office. Faced with all that excellence, the authors of this book sifted through encyclopedias, archives, and alumni records and engaged in conversations and debates to arrive at a final group of one hundred notable men and women who completed an undergraduate degree program at Cornell. These alumni are representative in their distinction (and, in a few cases, for their notoriety). Each Cornellian is profiled in a witty and erudite essay, each accompanied-with one telling exception-by a portrait. In immortalizing a selection of notable Cornellians from a bit more than the first hundred years of the university, the authors arrive at a portrait of Cornell itself, "a world-class institution with an egalitarian soul" where undergraduates are guided to exceed their own goals and change the world, too.
Isaac Kramnick is Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government at Cornell University, where he also served as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and faculty-elected member of the Board of Trustees. He is the author or editor of many books, including studies of the American founding fathers, Thomas Paine, Edmund Burke, and the twentieth-century Englishman Harold Laski.