Alison Lurie in the classroom in 1977

Professor Alison Lurie in the classroom in 1977. (Rare and Manuscript Collections)

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We offer a (not-at-all-comprehensive) roundup of quintessentially Cornellian classes—and invite you to weigh in!

By Joe Wilensky

While each Cornellians’ experience is unique—especially given the University’s multitude of schools, colleges, and majors—certain courses have stood out as legendary over the decades, some enriching the lives and minds of generations of alumni.

So we set out to compile a roundup of those particularly memorable offerings—admittedly, one that’s in no way comprehensive.

Some of the entries—particularly large intro classes that draw students from across disciplines—have become Big Red legends through their sheer size and longevity. Others are requirements that have evolved into rites of passage for students in certain majors or schools.

Still others feature a professor (sometimes, one famous far beyond the Hill) whose unique approach expands undergrads’ minds and ignites a love of learning.

Read on for a taste—in no particular order—of some of the most legendary, popular, and unique classes taught from the mid-20th century to the present. And please add your own memories in the comments!

‘Intro to Wines’

Offered in its current form since 1972—and required for Hotelies, though wildly popular with students from all disciplines—the course has long been a rite of passage on the Hill, with many taking it their senior spring.

Tastings in the Intro To Wines course in Statler Auditorium
Tasting time. (Noël Heaney / Cornell University)

Over the past half-century, just three people have taught it, all of them alums themselves: Vance Christian ’61, MS ’65; Stephen Mutkoski ’67, PhD ’76; and now senior lecturer Cheryl Stanley ’00, Mutkoski’s former TA.

Tens of thousands of Cornellians have taken the course—with enrollees easily identified by the little black cases in which they tote their glasses to class.

‘History of American Foreign Relations’

For years, this two-semester course packed auditoriums with students—who sometimes brought friends and family—eager to hear professor Walter LaFeber bring the topic to life, lecturing without notes and only a brief outline on the blackboard.

The course jump-started the careers of numerous figures in U.S. foreign policy (including the late Sandy Berger ’67, who served as National Security Advisor under President Bill Clinton)—but also broadly imparted a passion for, and understanding of, the role of government and the importance of diplomacy.

‘Masters of European Fiction’

Unofficially dubbed “Dirty Lit”—reportedly because a previous prof had focused on authors’ intimate lives—it was among the courses Vladimir Nabokov taught while at Cornell from 1948–59.

Author Vladimir Nabokov taught on the Hill from 1948–59
Nabokov in his Cornell office. (Rare and Manuscript Collections)

It quickly became one of the most popular on campus, as Nabokov (whose Lolita was published during his time on the Hill) lectured on Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Robert Louis Stevenson, Gustave Flaubert, and James Joyce.

Some of the course’s contents went on to be published in his posthumous 2002 volume, Lectures on Literature.

‘The Development of American Ideals’

Over the decades, more than 8,000 students took the two-semester ILR School course, taught by Milton Konvitz, PhD ’33.

They learned about the philosophical, political, and religious foundations of American ideals and institutions, as well as how those foundations shaped our constitutional and labor laws, and civil and human rights.

‘Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds’

Fungi have shaped our civilization and the natural world in which we live, playing crucial roles in everything from agriculture and climate to disease and the environment.

Fungi take center stage in the Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds course
A “Magical Mushrooms” lab. (Sreang Hok / Cornell University)

The class explores fungi as food; decayers of organic matter; pathogens and symbionts of plants and animals; and sources of mind-altering chemicals.

Originated by George Hudler (now a professor emeritus) in the early ’90s, it has become one of the largest courses in the School of Integrative Plant Science, with more than 300 students. It’s now taught by associate professor Kathie Hodge, PhD ’98.

‘Science and Technology of Foods’

Who wouldn’t want to make ice cream in class? Offered each fall and taught by lecturer Chris Loss ’96, PhD ’05, the course explores the roles of engineering, biotechnology, chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, toxicology, and microbiology in foods.

Late in the semester, student teams design ice cream flavors, competing for the chance to have them sold at the Dairy Bar the following spring (or even beyond). Past winners include the coffee-flavored “Ezra’s Morning Cup,” now a Dairy mainstay.

‘Our Solar System’

The intro course was called Astronomy 102 when Carl Sagan taught it in the 1970s. His remarkable ability to explain the nature of geologic time to first-year students—not to mention his ability to share his awe of the galaxy’s wonders—helped establish the future “Cosmos” host and Pulitzer Prize-winning author as a legend on the Hill.

Carl Sagan, professor of astronomy, explains the cosmos
Sagan teaching in the 1970s. (Rare and Manuscript Collections)

None other than “Science Guy” Bill Nye ’77 (who today leads the Planetary Society, as Sagan once did) has cited the course as giving him a deep appreciation for the cosmos.

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‘American Folk Literature’

Professor Harold Thompson’s class—colloquially known as “Romp-n-Stomp” to the many who took in during the mid-20th century—introduced students to literature and culture through folklore, audio recordings, and lively in-class performances (hence the nickname).

Course alumni include folk musician Peter Yarrow ’59 of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, who was a TA during its final semester in 1959.

‘The First American University’

A member of a multigenerational Big Red family, Corey Earle ’07—a staffer in Alumni Affairs and Development—has long been Cornell’s unofficial historian. He launched his popular course, fondly known as “Storytime with Corey,” in 2011.

“Storytime with Corey” in Corey Earle’s The American University class in Uris auditorium
Earle in Uris in spring 2023. (Sreang Hok / Cornell University)

The class packs Uris Auditorium on Monday evenings. And when the pandemic moved it online in 2020, its popularity soared: many students attended with their parents, and generations of alumni tuned in.

‘Intro to Oceanography’

For more than a decade, students have filled Bailey Hall for professor Bruce Monger’s spirited lectures exploring the vastness of the oceans. The course is offered through the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, which is shared by CALS and the College of Engineering.

Monger delves into how waves, tides, and marine ecosystems work—all while mixing in climate activism and calls to action.

‘Human Bonding’

Human development professor Cindy Hazan designed this popular course, which she has taught for more than a quarter-century—leading 600 undergrads each spring through the scholarly exploration of love, sex, marriage, dating, and other matters of adult romantic attachment.

Cindy Hazan explores interpersonal connections in the Human Bonding class in Bailey Hall
Hazan lecturing in Bailey in spring 2023. (Sreang Hok / Cornell University)

As a student once wrote in a course evaluation: “It’s great to be getting credit for thinking about the things I’m thinking about all the time anyway.”

‘Better Decisions for Life, Love, and Money’

A team of six professors launched the course in 2018 as a pilot project, offering life lessons from economists and psychologists who draw on research in their fields to offer a deeper understanding of human behavior and how it affects decision-making.

Spread mostly by word of mouth, enrollment increased, even through the pandemic—and when in-person classes resumed, the course moved into the 700-seat Statler Auditorium.

‘Restaurant Management’

This required capstone course is a longtime rite of passage for students in the Nolan School of Hotel Administration, incorporating such topics as market analysis and operational management.

Student teams prepare orders during the Establishment (restaurant management) course in 2015
Student teams prepare orders in 2015 for Establishment, the current incarnation of the course’s restaurant. (Cornell University)

It culminates with each team overseeing an evening in which paying customers—often comprising friends, family, and faculty—dine on a menu they’ve designed, with classmates staffing the kitchen and dining room.

‘Children’s Literature’

It was one of several popular courses taught by English professor Alison Lurie, an acclaimed author of novels, short stories, and essays.

Lurie—who won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1984 novel Foreign Affairs—also led a fiction seminar for MFA students, undergraduate writing courses, and classes on folklore during her long career on the Hill. She passed away in 2020 at age 94.

‘Intro to Psychology’

Held in Bailey, it has long been one of the University’s largest courses. It was taught by James Maas, PhD ’66, for nearly half a century, until his retirement in 2011, and by David Pizarro for a decade afterward.

David Pizarro teaches Psych 101 in Bailey Hall in 2014
Pizarro in Bailey in 2014. (Cornell University)

The course covers the essentials of intro psych while delving into intriguing topics such as perception, memory, morality, and creativity—giving students tools to understand the human mind while fostering an ongoing sense of wonder about it.

Top: Professor Alison Lurie in the classroom in 1977. (Rare and Manuscript Collections)

Published May 3, 2023

What Cornell courses would you call ‘legendary’?


  1. Michele D Goldberg, Class of 1985

    Richard Polenberg’s intro to recent American history parts 1 and 2!

    • Joseph Magid, Class of 1979

      Absolutely. Prof. Polenberg played tapes of famous presidential speeches and had us read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. An outstanding course.

      • Dan Mansoor

        Agreed. As an engineering major, Polenberg almost had me switching colleges!

      • Benjamin fish, Class of 1999

        Pollenberg was the GOAT! For recent American history. Great class.

    • Steve Sauter, Class of 1976

      Yes, absolutely. History went from my least to most favorite course thanks to Richard Polenberg’s course. No notes, non-stop speaking and making the topics jump out at us. And I’ll never forget the standing ovation we gave him at the end of the last class of the semester.

    • Midge Lowenthal Glazer, Class of 1956

      Prof. Nabokov’s “Masters of European Fiction” and

      Prof. Konvitz’s American Ideals

      Both have stayed with me for a VERY long time!!!

      • Lee Leonard, Class of 1963

        Milton Konvitz’s American Ideals was my favorite college course over six years. I delivered Vladimir Nobokov’s newspaper when I was in high school in Ithaca.

      • Carol (Solomon) Levine, Class of 1956

        I was privileged to be a student in Nabokov’s seminar on Russian lit in which we read Pushkin and others and heard his translations plus lots of stories. His wife Vera attended every session. I learned so much! One piece of advice has stayed with me: the best reader is a re-reader.

      • William (Bill) Schanze, Class of 1957

        After the first quizz was graded, Prof Nabokov asked me to meet him in his office. He opened, “This class is not for you.”- Nuts! He has recognized my dyslexic incapacities. I then announced I could do better. He rewarded my persistense and I mastered my favorite class with this solution: If he could translate Tolstoy in six languages, he could translate my phonics in English. So, I wrote like hell, ignored spelling, and proved my mastery of authors, which I correctly assumed was the purpose. All of Prof Nabokov’s exams were written and required detail. My favorite detail was Tolstoy’s in Anna Karenina; “Russians derived their confidence from knowing they know nothing.” Tolstoy was no dyslexic but we may share agnosticism.

    • Randall Nixon, Class of 1978

      Agreed! It was universally popular in the ’70’s.

    • David G Schowalter, Class of 1988

      Not at all surprised to see this in the comments as it was the first one I was going to add! Fondly remember this course from the ’80’s. I still talk about things I learned in this course.

      • Richard D. Tunick, Class of 1967

        George Harris Healy’s two semester course in British Literature deserves a presence in any array of extraordinary Cornell educational experiences. He filled Baily Hall to the rafters and held the entirety of the audience spellbound for every minute. There was a lengthy waiting list every year, with students from every college.

        You could hear a pin drop from the most remote seat. This course remains a considerable part of my educational core. Healy was awesome in his total command of such a vast subject. As a teacher, he was on a par with Walter LaFeber, Clinton Rossiter, and Alfred Kahn, but lacking in their approachability. How do you approach a godlike figure?

        • Natalie C Tyler, Class of 1973

          Somebody (I don’t know who carried on the tradition) always put an apple on his desk for the final lecture of the class. He was remarkable and my first real introduction to close reading and interpretation. I loved the memorabilia he brought to class.

        • Jason Wittman, MPS, Class of 1964

          I don’t know of another professor who would have students sitting in the ilse at Sat at noon – 1PM on a football game weekend. Why, because the students brought their dates to the class! I attempted to get him to allow taping of his lectures but he said only if he didn’t know it was happening and the School said it could only be done with his consent. We all lost on that one.

        • Susan London Russell, Class of 1968

          What I most remember abt Prof. Healy’s lectures is that he often received standing ovations. I still love William Wordsworth’s poetry and thought fondly of Healy when I visited the village of Grasmere, where Wordsworth is buried, in the Lake Country of England. I still have the two-volume Norton Anthology of English Literature with snippets of Healy’s immortal commentary in the margins.

    • Dana Kellerman, Class of 1986


    • Joshua Albert, Class of 1985

      Yes – that was deemed a must by many on my floor in UHall 5.

    • Benjamin fish, Class of 1999

      I was going to say this course as well.

      Class of 99

    • Marty Mack, Class of 1975

      I would add American Ideals taught by Milton Konvitz.

    • Doug Hughes, Class of 1980

      Yeah. Guy was an actual game changer for me. Made history fun and real. First guy EVER to teach independent, critical thinking. Funny as F.

    • Peter Fanelli, Class of 1975

      Field Natural History with Richard B. Fischer. In 32 years as a NYS Environmental Conservation Officer I often used the knowledge of the great outdoors that he imparted as the public expected me to know something about everything.

      • Fred Chanania, Class of 1970

        Agreed. I took the course with him over the summer (CAU) twice and it changed my life and my professional direction from law to environmental science. I wrote Dick every year until his death telling him what an impact he had, and I hope I have carried on his tradition as I taught my own students about the natural world. He is never forgotten.

    • Kelly Banach, Class of 1979


  2. Jessica Woo, Class of 1993

    Agree with Michele Goldberg, and I would add Chem 207, which was widely regarded as the hardest intro chem class in the country in the early ’90s. Maybe not fondly remembered, but certainly legendary!

    • Eric Kierstead, Class of 1983

      Agree 100% – this is a classic course so many of us took our freshman year. Very demanding! Also very well taught and educational.

    • Carolyn Rogers, Class of 1959

      I remember “Romp and Stomp” as “Stompinging and Singing” in the late 50’s

    • Erin Walter, Class of 1992

      Agreed. It was also the dream team of professors.

    • Keith McAfee, Class of 1991

      I loved Chem 207, the intro course. I remember several experiments that were awesome, such as separating water into oxygen and hydrogen balloons (that he then exploded loudly) as well as an oscillating reaction like this one:, just sitting there on the table, flipping colors back and forth. So cool.

  3. Roberta Walter Goodman, Class of 1980

    L Pearce Williams Intro to Western Civilization. I can still see him demonstrating the crossbow against the mounted knight. Highly entertaining, and worth taking a 9:05 course as a senior. More important, he covered a vast amount of material in a meaningful way.

    Also Richard Polenberg’s 20th century American History and Alvin Bernstein’s Rome of the Caesars. Joel Silbey’s 19th century American sequence. All of those courses really made me think about how we remember and interpret history, and by extension what we read in the news and see on tv.

    • Joseph Magid, Class of 1979

      Ditto on my Fraternity advisor, Prof. Bernstein’s Rome of the Ceasers. “Who has seen Godfather Part 2?” in section & proceeded to point to the few who had not, “you, you and you, you all fail! How can you understand the Praetorian Guard if you haven’t seen Godfather Part 2!”

      I must add Professor Williams History of Science I & II for which he quite literally wrote the books. He was Aristotle and Galileo at the front of the room.

      • Randall Nixon, Class of 1978

        Al Bernstein was my faculty advisor, and he changed the trajectory of my life. In addition to becoming a dear mentor, he was very supportive of me and the other student-athletes who took his courses. When he passed away, I was devastated.

      • Nancy Rogers, Class of 1978

        History of Science with L Pearce Williams was one of my favorite classes, too. I was telling my son about miasmas from that class just yesterday.

      • Douglas McIlroy, Class of 1954

        Williams must have followed Henry Guerlac, who would be my top nomination. His fascinating lectures were backed by a three volume collection of scientific writings that spanned millenia. The course inspired me to write pieces for the Cornell Engineer about him and about Daniel Bernoulli’s stunningly original statistical mechanics (which I read in Latin).

    • Richard Meltzer, Class of 1965

      Also Prof Williams “History of Medicine.” Would have enjoyed it even if I wasn’t pre-med.

    • Ira Casson, Class of 1971

      L. Pearce Williams was a larger than life iconic figure to this freshman and his roommate in 1967. My roommate dubbed him “The Prophet”.

    • Randall Nixon, Class of 1978

      Pierce was one of my favorites. His door was always open, and he could expound at length on any topic. I ran track and played football, and he would come to our games and meets. He was very supportive of the entire student experience.

    • Stephen Wilson

      I’m surprised Intro to Western Civilization wasn’t included above. I audited the course as a grad student and found Williams’ lectures engaging and informative.

    • Jerry Diener, Class of 1969

      L. Pearce Williams also taught The History of Science. Great course that made you think about the scientific method and every time you thought our predecessors had achieved critical scientific thinking and methodology, his next lecture showed we weren’t there yet and why. He had great dramatic delivery.

      • John Babbitt, Class of 1969

        As a ChemE I certainly remember the electives intro astronomy by Prof. Sagan and intro Psych by Prof. Maas…. both inspirational lectures!! “Billions and Billions” and “You Are What You Were When” still vivid memories!!

      • Ed Santavicca, Class of 1973

        As an engineering major I loved the History of Science course taught by Professor Williams. It was extremely popular at that time. He had a way of bringing meaning to scientific discover that went beyond the science.

    • Clifford Ribner

      Professor Williams intro to, Preview of, his own class was priceless: “This course comes full circle, from Peking man to Richard Nixon.”

      He literally invented the history of science as a major discipline of intellectual history and was a truly great professor, as was the entire history faculty in the 1970s, without exception.

      • Richard Oswald, Class of 1957

        Williams did not “literally” (not even figuratively) invent History of Science in Western Civilization. Prof. Henry Guerlac taught the course since about 1947, and Williams was his assistant when I took it. Williams gave a lecture occasionally but mostly sat with the class and observed. Even Guerlac did not invent the course, or program, although he did establish it at Cornell:

        “In 1941, Guerlac took an appointment as assistant professor and chairman of the History of Science Department that had just been created at the University of Wisconsin.”

        All of the praise bestowed here by other alums on Williams – and I don’t doubt that it’s deserved – could apply equally to Guerlac; taking his course was pure pleasure and intellectually stimulating. I was in Chemical Engineering, and for us the course was mandatory. I suppose that the director of our school, “Dusty” Rhodes, chose it as a good way to introduce us to the humanities, since most of us were taking our electives in technical subjects, and indeed it was. You could almost drop “Science” out of the title – it was a survey of over 2 millennia of western philosophy, with emphasis on science.

    • Janet Sisman Levy, Class of 1974

      Agree totally. L. Pierce Williams was a brilliant, captivating lecturer. His Intro to Western Civilization was a standout course for generations of students.

  4. Robert Rosenberg, Class of 1963

    Clinton Rossiter- The American Presidency ( I may have title wrong as it was 60 yrs ago)

    Healy-Brit. Lit (again not sure of title)

    • Ivan Rosenberg, Class of 1964

      I fully agree with Robert. Both courses are the ones I remember. The profs brought alive what could have been dull. I recall they had proctors at the door to Healy’s class to ensure only those registered would attend – it was that popular.

      And Healy had great respect for students. He would bring priceless items from the Rare Book Room and just leave it on the table to be surrounded by viewing students, trusting them.

      Another memorable course I took was Introduction to Quantum Physics by Nobel prize winner Hans Bethe. Like Rossiter and Healy, despite being a world class thinker, Bethe was able to bring his subject alive to introductory students.

      • Allan S. Morton, Class of 1965

        Rossiter, Alan Bloom and Walter Berns, all of blessed memory, were the highs of my time at Cornell.

    • Jennifer Howell, Class of 1977

      Agreed- I still think of what I learned in that course every election. But I don’t remember the presidents by their number!

    • Chuck Roby, Class of 1967

      Totally agree. I loved Professor Rossiter’s class.

    • Anne Powell, Class of 1966

      Word was that Prof. Healy scheduled Brit Lit on Saturday mornings—(at 10:00?)—to keep enrollment numbers within reason…and it was always fully enrolled. He made sure that it was over in time that students (and he himself) could attend the football games.

      • David George Marsh, Class of 1965

        I remember he invited a gentleman from Kenya who asked the students if anyone wanted to learn “Swahili”, his native language. Afterward Prof Healey said “Unfortunately today you’ll have to listen to plain old Healey”–what a quick wit!

    • Richard D. Tunick, Class of 1967

      Absolute classic. Wonderful course with an incredible teacher and genuine, warm, and caring individual. A gift in every respect.

    • Steve Goldstein, Class of 1965

      Thank you for mentioning Prof. Rossiter’s course,The American Presidency. He wrote the book and was quite a legend at Cornell for many years. I mostly remember when JFK was assassinated, I tried to reach Prof. Rossiter in order to ask him to please have his scheduled Saturday morning class. I didn’t realize that plans were already underway to have a university wide event the next morning at which he was the principal speaker. In my senior year I took an honors seminar with him which was held in the John L. Senior room which was located in Olin Library. What a treat.

  5. Martha Little Munson, Class of 1970

    Urie Bronfenbrenner’s CD 115 was the best introduction to social science research and human development. His class filled Bailey Hall every MWF!

    • Linda Byard, Class of 1968

      I agree with Martha’s comment. I admire greatly how Urie Bronfenbrenner could engage all the students into what seemed to be a dialogue. I took CD 115 in the Fall of 1964 in a very crowded Bailey Hall, a very first class for me, and I still remember how Prof. Bronfenbrenner would give us “handles” to remember important topics. For example, he asked us to please stand up if we had both of our grandmothers alive. And then to stand up if both our grandfathers were still alive. That was an intro to male/female longevity, and it was very clear which sex was doing better.

    • Robin Aronow, Class of 1976

      I totally agree. Can’t believe it was left off the list. No better introductory course! It influenced a lifetime of students, including me.

    • Roberta Paikoff Holzmueller, Class of 1983

      by the time I was on the Hill, Dr. Bronfenbrenner only taught advanced/graduate classes, and I was fortunate enough to take one with him spring semester of my senior year. Agree completely, he was incredible!

    • Gail Karlitz, Class of 1968

      It was Fall 1964 – my first semester. Bronfenbrenner would discuss a study and then ask, “what was the problem in the methodology?” My thought: “I’ve been in college for 2 weeks. How should I know?” But I learned critical thinking.
      And so often, in that packed hall, I just felt like it was Bronfenbrenner and me.

      • Paula Millenthal Cantor, Class of 1959

        Professor Urie Bronfenbrenner, one of a kind, and how fortunate I was to have him as teacher and advisor.

    • Sonnet Bonelli, Class of 1986

      I took a small upper-level HDFS course (15 or few of us) with Prof. Bronfennrenner in my Junior or Senior year and it was quite remarkable to have discussions with such a world-renowned social scientist. The thing about Cornell is that you would be taught by those that actually wrote the text books and had conducted the pioneering research and studies in the field!

    • Deborah Gale, Class of 1971

      I had no idea the impact this course would have on me, even many years later. After ending long careers in two different fields, I returned to human development by becoming an early childhood special educator, in my 60s. This course was the beginning of that interest.

    • Don Juran, Class of 1962

      I took CD 115 my junior year as an A&S sociology/anthropology major, assuming I’d learn little but would garner an easy A. I was 100% wrong on both counts. Bronfenbrenner would sit up there and read the abstract of a study, then ask, “Well, do you buy it?” And then we’d pick it apart. Critical thinking for sure.

    • Jean Ispa, Class of 1969

      I completely agree! I took his class in the Fall of 1967 – I was enthralled!

  6. RONALD HELHOSKI, Class of 1967


    • Karen Parfitt

      Agree—Bill Keeton’s intro bio courses changed my major, changed my life.

    • Ira Casson, Class of 1971

      ABSOLUTELY! After all, he wrote the book.

    • Ellen Pigage Elliott, Class of 1965

      Agree – made the topic exciting for me when I least expected that and was only taking the course to fulfill a requirement.

    • Pauline Ts'o, Class of 1983

      I agree – I was going to add him!

    • David Schwartz, Class of 1973

      Bill Keeton’s Bio 101 lectures were the highlight of my freshman year. I remember people criticizing him because his lectures sounded just like his textbook. They apparently didn’t get that it was the other way around: he wrote the textbook from his lectures! I took great pride during Christmas break when I got together with high school friends and found out that all of them taking biology at other colleges used “Biological Science” by William Keeton as their textbook.

  7. Judith Barth, Class of 1969

    I agree with Martha on Bronfenbrenner’s course, but also Dan Sisler’s Ag. Econ – an amazing man and teacher – an inspiration to all his students!

    • JOSEPH SACCO, Class of 1975

      I agree! Daniel Sisler was an extraordinary teacher. His elaborate notes in complex diagrams, all connected, fascinated me.

    • Gail Karlitz, Class of 1968

      It was Fall 1964 – my first semester. Bronfenbrenner would discuss a study and then ask, “what was the problem in the methodology?” My thought: “I’ve been in college for 2 weeks. How should I know?” But I learned critical thinking.
      And so often, in that packed hall, I just felt like it was Bronfenbrenner and me.

    • Lonny Levin, Class of 1983

      Agree about Professor Sisler. For his final lecture of the semester, the lecture hall was ‘standing room only’ because students who weren’t in the class came just to hear it.

    • Nancy Rogers, Class of 1978

      I took Dr. Sissler’s class because I asked fellow students for recommendations for a great professor in any topic and this class was recommended. I loved it. I learned so much and he made it so interesting, fun and relevant.

    • Paul Jensen, Class of 1971

      Agree. Professor Sisler’s course was great. Also agree on Professor Keeton’course

  8. Victor, Class of 1969

    Charlie Ackerman’s Sociology of Deviance (210) or “Nuts and Sluts” as it was commonly called, held in Uris was a must.
    Also Bill Keaton’s biology 101 was a masterful experience.

    • Richard Ahlfeld, Class of 1968

      Completely agree on Sociology of Deviance. Prof. Ackerman taught the course in Bailey Hall in ’68

    • Ken, Class of 1967

      An openly gay professor before Stonewall! Speaks to the openness and tolerance of the Cornell environment at that time.

    • Jill Rosenfeld, Class of 1971

      I agree!

    • Ellen Crockett, Class of 1969

      I was going to say the same – Nuts and Sluts was a must!

    • H. White, Class of 1970

      Ackerman also taught Intro 101 that filled the hall with over 600 students. In fact, all his courses were highly popular and well attended. I remember there were protests when Cornell denied his tenure, so he returned to Harvard.

  9. Gina Strauch, Class of 1980

    Although it was never a big popular lecture, my favorite was Introduction to Farm Techniques, which I think of affectionately as Sheep Shearing and Tractor Driving. I don’t think it’s been available for many years though.

    There’s an article about it in the May 1982 issue of Cornell’s Agriculture and Life Science News.

  10. Victor, Class of 1969

    Should have said held in Bailey Hall, not Uris for Ackerman.

  11. Mark Steckel, Class of 1980

    Though I took Wines with Vance Christian and sat in on Carl Sagans class, the two classes below should be considered “classic”:

    Bio 101-104 with William Keeton-great lecturer and he died too young.;

    Chem 357, 358 (organic chemistry) with Nobelist Roald Hoffman (though his Nobel Prize came one year after my graduation)

  12. Daniel Dumas, Class of 1972

    As a freshman in Electrical Engineering in 1968, I loved Psychology 101, taught by Allen Funt, which drew on materials he developed for his TV series, Candid Camera. Bailey Hall was the venue – a very popular class, and not just for Arts and Sciences students!

    • Carolyn Rogers, Class of 1959

      I remember “Romp and Stomp” as “Stomping and Singing” in the late 50’s

    • Steve D, Class of 1970

      Funt was invited in as a guest by Maas for one of the Psych 101 lectures during the term.

    • David Schwartz, Class of 1973

      Psych 101 was taught by Jim Maas, as noted in the article, but he drew upon the “Candid Camera” film library in teaching social psychology. I believe he was a friend or collaborator with Funt and it’s possible Funt was a guest lecturer the year you took it.

  13. Shira Evergreen, Class of 2002

    AS&RC 280: Race, Power and Privilege, co-taught by Prof. James Turner, Africana Studies and Research Center and Prof. Donald Barr, Policy Analysis and Management. This course was instrumental in my consciousness around racism and privilege and is perhaps the most important class I took at Cornell. I would suggest you add it to the list above!

    • Vivian Relta, Class of 1979

      I agree wholeheartedly! The course had a wait list every year. I was blessed to serve as part of TA team. I learned as much as any student enrolled. Thank you for posting this!

  14. Marcia Yeager, Class of 1958

    For Home Ec students, given in the Hotel school. Prof. Beck’s
    Tea Room Accounting.

    I used that silly information when I played secretary for my husband’s
    practice for a year.

  15. Sami Besalel, Class of 1987

    Professor Farrell’s “Fantasy and Horror in Literature” was among the best classes I took in college. Taking a scholarly approach to classic and modern horror (from “Dracula” to “The Shining”) made already popular content more accessible and meaningful. Studying “The Lord of the Rings” from a philological perspective deepened not only my understanding of JRR Tolkien’s work but my appreciation of the scope of his talent, planning, and world-building, while providing context to contemporaneous events such as WWII. Those who took that class with me in. eighties still refer to it today.

  16. Eliot Schuman, Class of 1975

    I agree with the Bronfenbrenner posters. I thought the course was Freshman Psychology 101.

  17. David Abramowitz, Class of 1989

    Government 111 in the 80s with Ted Lowi and Benjamin Ginsburg. Worth missing Luke and Laura on “General Hospital.”

    • Andrea Koch, Class of 1992

      I was a TA for Professor Lowi in 1992 for this course. He was incredible. NO ONE could make American Beauracracy as interesting as he could. Each lecture was a thrill and privilege to behold.

    • Erin Walter, Class of 1992

      I agree. I was a chemistry major and took this class because it was recommended. It was great.

  18. Dave Yerzley, Class of 1966

    British literature. Unfortunately I can no longer remember the name of the professor. However, his lecture within that course on who wrote Shakespeare was a classic, which he turned into a real performance. The year I took the course, it fell on the friday of a big weekend, and the lecture hall was packed with people and their weekend dates, standing room only.

  19. Donnelly Nariss Maysey, Class of 1997

    Andrea Parrot’s Human Sexuality.

    • Amy Smith Linton, Class of 1985

      Andrea Parrot’s Human Sexuality was among the most fascinating — not just for the eye-opening and frank discussion of the topic, but for the reaction from the SRO crowd. It strikes me now, so many decades later, how truly educational a class this was: the topic sells itself, but the way in which Dr. Parrot handled questions, included multi-media, encouraged thought and discussion — it was a wonderful class.

      • Joanna Cohen, Class of 1996

        Agree! My two favorites were “Love” (Prof. Hazan’s class mentioned above, which I think was called “Close Relationships Across the Lifespan”) and “Sex,” Prof. Parrot’s course. The fun of being an HDFS major!

      • Heather Bouchey, Class of 1992

        100% agree!

    • Carol Anne (Slaughter) Holland

      This and Sandy Bem’s Gender Roles were two of the most meaningful for me.

    • Erin Walter, Class of 1992

      Yes. I was told that before graduation, I “had” to take “Love” and “Sex”. I still think and talk about Relationships through the lifespan.

  20. Paul Witt, Class of 1973

    Beverage Management aka Wine Tasting. The good news; because I took the course I won an all expense paid two week wine Tasting tour of Italy. The bad news; scheduling it right before a Chem lab was not a great decision.

    • Yolanda Santos-King, Class of 1976

      Ahh yes all the Chem E’s couldn’t take wine tasting because the Engr school scheduled a required class at the same time!.

      Also re wine tasing with Vance Christian….we sat in alphabetical order. I was lucky enough to be at the beginning of the row…..we got the “bottle” first and no doubt we (Dave Santori (?) and I) took more than our share… my notes from class got progressively unreadable and wine stained as the class went on!

  21. Richard Ahlfeld, Class of 1968

    Public Opinion, Prof. Rose Goldsen, taught in an ILR auditorium.

    • Carla Bach, Class of 1979

      Yes she was a revolutionary thinker as she taught us to analyze the media’s insidious impact, manipulation of the public… She also was a generous, astute, far-thinking advisor professionally for me and friend (granted, our connection was also via my aunt, her close friend since childhood).
      Others who made a major impact were Richard Klein, French & French literature, Jonathan Schwartz- Modern literature esp Joyce, Conrad, and Lawrence, and a wonderful Asian art professor whose name escapes me; he abandoned a business career there when he fell in love with this subject…

  22. George Robinson, Class of 1966

    About Intro to Psychology: Maas was Henry Gleitman’s teaching assistant in the early 1960’s. Gleitman, who was a stage actor as well as an eminent psychologist, was so compelling the enrollment grew twenty-fold. That course changed my career. Maas certainly deserves praise for carrying on his mentor’s inspiring pedagogy for so many years.

  23. Susan Cohen Pel-Or, Class of 1959

    “Bus Riding” in freshman ILR. Each trip was to a difference industry. Most remembered – going down into a coal mine!

    • Paul Roman, Class of 1964

      Every student everywhere should be required to take that class, although it is long gone at Cornell…..I took it in 1961 and seem to remember almost all the trips! Memorable is an early robot “wiring a board” for the innards of a computer at the IBM plant in Endicott, or watching huge drums filled with smooth stones that were bringing to perfection dinner plates at Syracuse China.

  24. Karen Parfitt

    Ron Mack’s small psych seminar …I forget the title of the course, but it was fundamentally life-changing.

    • Kelly Banach, Class of 1979

      Mack’s Abnormal Psych had us diagnosing each other and our family members.

  25. Ira Casson, Class of 1971

    Introduction to Genetics with its Drosophila lab at all hours of the day and night during February-March in a building on the Ag Quad was a rite of passage for biology premeds.

    • Lee Kass

      The Genetics lab was taught by Harry Stinson, who was the Chair of the Section of Genetics Development and Physiology when I arrived at Cornell for graduate school in September of 1971. It was taught in the basement of the Plant Science Building.

    • Teem-Wing Yip, Class of 2001

      Oh, yes, drosophila lab brings back memories of Spring 2000….memories that I don’t think about often for a reason! (I didn’t realize that it dated back to the 1970s!)

    • Art Lasko, Class of 1971

      I remember climbing the hill in freezing weather in the middle of the night to “collect virgins” fruit flies!

    • Yolanda Santos-King, Class of 1976

      omg! counting flies at all hours! what a memory!

  26. Robert Sheinbein, Class of 1975

    Milton Konvitz lectured in Constitutional Law. Amazing.

    • Lewis B. Ward-Baker, Class of 1952

      It was one of the courses that is memorable for me seventy years later. It was deservedly popular with students from all the colleges in the early 1950’s.

  27. Eric Alterman, Class of 1982

    In addition to those on the list:
    Bendedict Anderson, Civil/Military Relations
    Ted Lowy, Government 101
    Dick Polenberg, Intro American History
    L. Pierce Williams, Western Civ
    Dominick LaCapra, though I never took it, those two philosophy courses
    That woman who taught “Human Sexuality”
    Isaac Kramnick, Intro political theory

    • Steven Harris, Class of 1976

      LaCapra’s 19th and 20th Century European Intellectual History courses were tremendous. Memorable lectures on Hegel and, especially, Freud (students came from across campus to audit these, leaving the lecture hall in Morrill SRO), Marx and Engels.

  28. Emil Bricker, Class of 1966

    Allan Bloom’s government/philosophy course featuring Aristophanes and Plato. What a wonderful lecturer—hilarious and serious by turns. His enthusiasm was catching, and I still haven’t escaped its influence.

    • Carl Anderson, Class of 1968

      He chain-smoked throughout each class, but never seemed to exhale. I found that most absorbing.

    • Nicholas Adams, Class of 1970

      Agreed. Class was packed––in ILR? The challenge: was there any book that changed your life? (He suspected that some might be have been changed by the Bible. But the real markers was Plato. The course stopped with Machiavelli. After that, according to Bloom, there was no philosophy.

  29. Ruth Lin, Class of 1994

    I agree Jessica re: Chem 207. Also would add (the next class, the spring semester of the intro course) Chem 208 taught by Nobel Prize winner Professor Roald Hoffmann!

  30. Paul C. Goldsmith, Ph.D., Class of 1966

    Perry W. Gilbert (College of A&S) taught Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy until 1967. He had a legendary ability to produce symmetrical drawings using both hands simultaneously at the chalkboard.
    His good friend and college roommate Harland P. Banks (College of Ag & Life Sci) taught an amazing introductory course in Botany that opened your eyes to the plant world.
    Robert A. Plane (College of A&S) used his own textbook (Sienko and Plane) to teach his large introductory course in Chemistry. Like the other professors mentioned, his lecture hall was always full.

    • Robert D. Shlien MD, Class of 1975

      Robert Plane’s class was amazing. I believe at the time he taught Chem 208. The lecture hall was always packed and he frequently had a demonstration to show off the incredible characteristics of one element or another. Definitely an inspiration for me to pursue science eventually leading to graduate study in Biochemistry and an MD.

    • peter Bloom, Class of 1965

      Agree with this one! Peter Bloom ‘65

    • Edward Hodgson

      H P Banks Botany 101 should be on the list. In the very first lecture in botany, he had a big plant in a terracotta pot and was explaining the leaves, etc and, as he did so, increasingly bashing the pot against the lecture so that, eventually it broke revealing the roots to the astonished class just as he explained the roots

      • Lee Kass, Class of 1975

        Exactly the class that came to mind when I saw this post.

      • PAUL C GOLDSMITH, Class of 1966

        And Prof Banks proclaimed, “What goes on below the soil is just as important as what goes on above!” That demonstration made quite an impact and is still memorable some 57 years later…

    • Nancy Rogers, Class of 1978

      Dr. Banks was great. He was my advisor, and I still remember talking with him about primitive plants like equisetum. Another favorite botany class was plant anatomy with Dr. Paolillo.

      • Lee Kass, Class of 1975

        The latter was my major prof. A great teacher.

    • Lewis B. Ward-Baker, Class of 1952

      Those two-handed chalk drawings of animal anatomy in the Introductory zoology course were stunning and unique in my experience.

      • PAUL C GOLDSMITH, Class of 1966

        I can still see my classmates attempting to duplicate the symmetrical embryo cross-sections with only one hand, as they frantically changed colored pens and pencils to draw and label the multiple layers and structures. Too bad we did not have cell phone cameras!

    • David Ginter, Class of 1984

      Sienko had the best chem demonstrations in the Intro Chem courses. Some specactular (like the thermite reaction).

    • Paula Millenthal Cantor, Class of 1959

      I am so glad to see Dr Perry Gilbert mentioned. Known in his field as, among other things, a world authority on sharks, could also call every person in Stimson’s lecture hall by name. His lectures on how vertebrates developed, from the lowest forms to the human being, were absolutely poetic. He instilled in us an awe for the process of creation.

  31. Roy Geiss, Class of 1968

    Richard Feynman gave a series of lectures on physics in the late 60’s which were fascinating and informative and attracted an overflow audience. The best discussion of the fundamentals of physics ever!

    • David Harding, Class of 1968

      Feynman gave the Messenger lectures at Cornell in November 1964. “The Character of Physical Law.” The BBC recorded them and they’re available on YouTube
      There’s also a book based on the lectures.

      He had been a professor at Cornell 1945-1950, then wound up at CalTech for the rest of his career.

      • Logan M. Cheek III, Class of 1960

        Concur. The recorded Messenger Lectures are extraordinary.

      • Tim Lynch, Class of 1990

        Agreed that the Messenger Lectures are truly outstanding stuff.

        However, just to nitpick, it’s spelled “Caltech”, not “CalTech.” As someone who got my master’s degree there after Cornell, I can assure you that Caltech folks get very persnickety (justifiably) about that. 🙂

  32. Jim Mead, Class of 1975

    Physics for Poets. Gotta love a single question unit final – “How would you describe Space and Time and Special Relativity to Lady Bird Johnson?”

    • Clifford Ribner, Class of 1973

      Professor Silverman taught that when I took it and he was great

  33. Reeve Vanneman, Class of 1967

    I was too late for Nabokov, but his student, Prof Carden, taught a great Russian lit survey. And in four years at Cornell, she was my only woman professor. Hard to believe.

    • Natalie C Tyler, Class of 1973

      I loved (and feared) Professor Carden. I got a D or a D- on my first paper but also a long, one-paged single spaced response to the ways I could have approached the topic and the ideas I could have generated. She made me understand that reading was a deeply personal conversation with the author. She made me feel Chekhov. Her opening gambit was frequently “What struck you about the reading?” and I used to read noting when I was struck. It sounds elementary but nobody had ever taught critical thinking in my previous educational experienced.

  34. Mitch Frank, Class of 1975

    At the end of Prof. Lafeber’s first semester course in the fall of 1973, the students gave him a standing ovation, but he had already quickly left the classroom, I believe, in anticipation of exactly that happening. He was the most self-effacing man. Second semester, in Spring, 1974, we were not so easily denied. With 10 minutes to go in the last class, in what was clearly a planned and brilliantly strategic move, two very large guys got out of their class seats and stood right next to each other in front of the doors in this classroom in Ives, barring any exit. This clearly was not going to be allowed to happen again. When he said the final words of his final lecture, he jumped up off the front table, which he almost always had been sitting on with his legs dangling while he lectured, and started walking towards the doors. As he approached the guys, I was in the front row, I recall one of them saying to them, “Not this time, Professor. Turn around and take it.“ And Professor Lafeber was instantly engulfed by wildly cheering students, shaking his hand, putting him on the back, and profusely thanking him. It was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. He was, and I have taught for many years, simply the greatest professor I ever saw. By far.

  35. Michael Waxman, Class of 1969

    George Stoller who taught economics was one of those people who was dryly funny.. He was a diehard hockey fan,too (no surprise – he was Czech). Every time I returned to the Hill he would sit down with me in his office to talk economics and hockey (not always in that order).
    Also, I enjoyed Richard Polenberg’s classes – despite being held on T-Th-Sat at 12 the number of students enrolled grew “exponentially.”

    • John Donnelly, Class of 1960

      Prof Stahler, then a graduate student, was teaching a section of the introductory economics course when I arrived at Cornell in 1956. The course was superb and he was an excellent teacher. Not surprisingly, he later became Chair of the Economics Department.
      With fond memories of him as scholar and friend. John Donnelly class of 1960

  36. Eliot Schuman, Class of 1975

    Audio versions of Konvitz’ lectures are available through ILR. They are amazing. Close your eyes, and you are back. Call ILR Admissions Office. You won’t regret it.

  37. Carl Anderson, Class of 1968

    Anything by Edward Whiting Fox. He filled in for the second semester of European History when I was a freshman. I also took 19th and 20th Century Europe as a sophomore and History of the French Republic as a senior. He and his courses were the most engaging experiences of my academic career and have been models for a lifetime of learning and sometimes teaching ever since. I’m profoundly grateful!

  38. Terrell E. Koken, Class of 1962

    Freshman Math 191, taught by Paul Olum. Only fall of 1958, for some who had tested out of freshman calculus. It was a course in linear algebra, unprecedented at freshman level. It stretched my mind. Olum later took the office of president, at University of Oregon, a sad loss to Cornell.

  39. Mel Siegel, Class of 1962

    Philip Morrison teaching junior year classical mechanics. He made it sound like poetry.

  40. Tim Lynch, Class of 1990

    Glenn Altschuler’s American History course was pretty legendary, I thought, though I don’t have any clear-cut examples.

    And a story from my Psych-101 experience in fall of ’87: part of one lecture was just a rapid-fire set of slides featuring optical illusion after optical illusion. Eventually after 5-10 minutes there was a strangled cry from the balcony: “Make it STOP!” I found out many years later than the friend I shared an apartment with from 1988-1990 was the selfsame person who yelled that…

  41. George Weiner, Class of 1964

    I recently saw an ad for an auction featuring Shakespeare’s first folio and remembered that I first saw a copy in George Healy’s Brit Lit course. I’m now 80, and I remember his discussion of the line from Eliot’s Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, “I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.” I still have my copy of Norton’s Anthology complete with marginal notes. Psych 101 was also memorable. I can’t recall the professor, but Jim Mass was the TA.

    • David Ryan, Class of 1993

      Professor Katzenstein‘s Intro to International Relations, and his Political Economy seminar.

      • Toby Jorrin, Class of 1992

        Completely agree. Prof Katzenstein’s international relations and political economy courses were phenomenal.

  42. Matthew Sagal, Class of 1957

    As a Chem. E., I only took a few liberal arts courses. Nabokov’s was memorable, as others have pointed out. Another was a course in ethics taught by Stuart Brown.

  43. Thomas F. Nytch, Class of 1958

    No one has mentioned Prof. Sienko’s Introductory Chemistry 105, a big-lecture course for Pre Meds and Vets – or so I thought. For this incoming Freshman his explosions and dramatic chemical reactions illustrating the power of energy in this world, and to begin to understand them, (as they always were done to prove a point) was a wonderful introduction to a “College Education.”

    • Lisa Freeman, Class of 1981

      I agree- and I would add Keeton’s Intro Biology. I will always remember his lecture on display behavior and how he moved seamlessly and logically from bird mating to warships off the coast of disputed territories.

  44. Otto Richter, Class of 1952

    Dr. Harold Reed’s class on “Money Currency and Banking” was a must for Economics’ majors in the 1950’s. He was an interesting lecturer and a “teaching” professor. All exam’s were un-announced quizzes-kept us on our toes!
    One day he threw a black-board eraser at a student who had fallen asleep!
    One of the few classes that taught me information that was useful in later life.

  45. Elaine (Goldberg) Abelson, Class of 1957

    and who could forget….

    Clinton Rossiter’s course on the American Presidency

    Mario Einaudi on European politics in 20th century- Comparative Government ? (hardest course I ever took)

    Arthur Miezner course on F. Scott Fitzgerald and post WWI world and writers

    • Alice Singleton, Class of 1968

      Professor Einaudi was wonderful. His accent forced careful listening, which was always rewarding.

      I was fortunate to have had L. Pearce Williams, Clinton Rossiter, Walter LaFeber, Andrew Hacker and Prof Sienko (who coauthored the Chem 101 textbook!)But another faculty star was Nelson Pike, who taught Philosophy of Religion. I still remember him pacing back and forth on the stage, stepping over and around campus dogs. I learned to think critically (perhaps too critically!) about religious philosophy.

      I’m so thankful to have been at Cornell in the mid to late 1960’s!

      Alice Singleton
      Class of 1968

  46. Kim Fisher, Class of 2006

    It seems more recent alums aren’t commenting, so I’ll add that I’m proud to have taken 5 of these legendary courses! Human Bonding is one that I reference fairly often to this day. And Wines, of course.

  47. Kenneth (Kim) Eike, Class of 1969

    Kind of embarassed to be an engineer; so few comments from engineers. How about Tools for Fools? ME course on machine tools. I think it was a required ME course; I took it I think in 67-68 school year. Kimball Hall, second or third floor. I still have two gears that I machined, one graded well, other still has red grease pencil marks on it!

  48. Mark Katz, Class of 1986

    Even though I managed to escape the ILR School after three labor-intensive semesters, I never encountered a Cornell professor more engaged in their studies and engaging with their students than Nicholas Salvatore. His Labor History 101 class was more than a history class; it was a masterclass in the love of learning.

  49. Thalia Goldstein, Class of 2002

    Diane Ackerman’s Mind and Memory (English 301, maybe?) was the best course I’ve ever taken. I think I took it in 2000, and on Tuesdays it was a lecture by various faculty across arts, sciences, engineering, ag, etc, talking about their creativity in their work, whether elephant communication or dance. On Thursdays we had small group discussions of books, our own journals, and everything between I was lucky enough to have Prof. Ackerman as my group leader, and the course absolutely changed my life and started my own research path. I model my Psych of Creativity course (at GMU in Virginia) off of it!

  50. Steven Harris, Class of 1976

    I will always remember the late Dan McCall’s American Renaissance literature class in Goldwyn Smith. His enthusiasm and intellect were infectious.

    • Duane Ross, Class of 1983

      Thank goodness someone finally mentioned Dan McCall! I completely agree that his enthusiasm and, dare I say, quirkiness made his class thoroughly enjoyable.

      • Maria Czarniecki, Class of 1990

        I loved Professor Wachsberg’s Philosophy/Ethics of medicine class. Can’t recall exact title of course, but he was excellent.

    • Jonathan Cohen, Class of 1978

      Yes, Steven, I loved this class and Professor McCall. His spirit lives on in his novels, including Jack the Bear.

    • Peter Hedlund, Class of 1993

      Definitely agree with Dan McCall, although the course I took with him senior year was on Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald. Certainly memorable and gave me a real appreciation for these authors.

  51. Robert Tucker, Class of 1980

    Tim Teitelbaum, taught intro to Computer Science, was a great guy. Also, Benjamin Widom in the chemistry department. I took Physical Chemistry with him but do not recall the exact class number. The subject matter was thermodynamics and quantum mechanics. For the entire semester he lectured without a single note or ever referencing a textbook to assist. He had it all head. To this day I’m still amazed!

    • Kenneth Lehner, Class of 1980

      Teitelbaum’s course taught me things I used throughout my forty year career in computer science. I still remember one of the grading rubrics was taking points off for “code too clever.” Having John Hopcroft (later receiving the Turing Award) as a professor was something else. Remembering Carl Sagan’s “relativistic Porsche” from a prelim (IIRC, he won his Pulitzer during the class of his I took). John Rankin coming back to teach an astronomy course the next year as Joanna Rankin.

      • Justin Fisher, Class of 1971

        Hopcroft was an amazing professor – I remember him sitting on my living room floor working out an algorithm for determining which bulbs were out on my Christmas lights (I was a grad student in CS and held a Christmas party). I think Hopcroft had a good time!

  52. Lawrence Kelly, Class of 1977

    I appreciated all the Professors mentioned above, Maas. Lafeber, but they knew the students appreciated their genius. I , on the other hand, have always wanted to thank the Art History professors whose names I cannot recall. Circumstances found me at Balch looking to make an impression. Upon entering the young lady’s room, the artwork on the wall caused me to exclaim, “Ahh, Breugel”. I really wanted to thank my professor at the time. Allow me, at this late date, to express my appreciation.

  53. Peter Bloom, Class of 1965

    Rossiter the American Presidency
    Williams history of science
    Mizener Shakespeare
    Gilbert Comp anatomy

  54. Jeffrey W. Cowan, Class of 1986

    LaFeber’s History 313-314 for sure (no other class compelled students to bring visiting parents or friends on a Saturday morning).

    Psych 101 (the most popular/populous lecture course at not only Cornell but also any Ivy or top 20 school)

    Ted Lowi’s Government 101 and L. Pearce Williams’ Intro to Western Civ (each was magnificently charismatic and passionate while effectively teaching huge amounts of information)

    Government 313: the Nature, Limits and Functions of Law. It launched my legal career (as it surely has done for countless others — or spared them from a career that was not a good fit for them).

  55. Christine (Nielsen) Berg, Class of 1987

    I was a Comparative Literature major. There were only six of us in my year, and I never met any of them until my senior year. Our classes were usually very small. What I remember most are some of the extraordinary guests we had in some of our classes. Roald Hoffman, the Nobel prize winning chemist, came to one to teach about poetry – not many people knew he was a gifted poet. In another class, Eudora Welty spoke to us. She was a tiny, bent-over, elderly woman at the time, but spoke with passion and wisdom. My brother always mentioned Professor Yervant Terzian, who taught the Astronomy survey course after Sagan, as being a wonderful teacher.

  56. Joe Levitt, Class of 1975

    Prof. Dannhauser’s political philosophy, which I took freshman year fall 1971. Unfortunately, he had a heart attack after only the second lecture, but his analysis of Plato’s Crito so inspired me for the rest of my Cornell career and was a catalyst for my joining the College Scholar program. Honorable mentions go to Prof. Michael Kammen for American Colonial History (and author of People of Paradox which win a Pulitzer) and Prof Urie Bronfenbrenner’s HDFS early human development in the Human Ecology School.

    • Clifford Ribner, Class of 1973

      Yes, Professor Dannhauser’s Introduction to Political Philosophy class was truly great. It’s a pity he had a heart attack so young when you took it. I was unaware of that. I took it in the fall of 1969, my first semester. I was very naughty and cutting a lot of classes that semester, but his was not to be missed.

  57. Cindy Fuller, Class of 1978

    I took Wine Tasting with Vance Christian and history with Richard Polenberg. I also want to put in a plug for Introductory Nutrition, NS 115, with Marge Devine. Her class got me interested in taking more human nutrition alongside my animal science major courses. One thing led to another, which is how I earned a PhD in human nutrition at Cornell.

  58. Mark Bogomolny, Class of 1984

    My very first class on the hill was an introductory AgEc class. I was sitting in the big auditorium in Warren Hall when an apparently blind man walked to the front of the auditorium, folded up his cane and began the lecture. Throughout the semester I watched Dr. Sissler lecture, use the blackboard, overheads, and other teaching aids. What as amazing class. Still in awe.

  59. John Sotiriadis, Class of 1996

    Professor Mankin’s Greek mythology class, sunglasses and all.

    • Monica Y, Class of 1997

      Yes! That was a fun class. Sunglasses, and the red socks cap! And our final paper was to create our own mythology

    • Anne Catlin Johnson, Class of 1995

      Yes!!! The list above is fantastic and includes a lot of my favorites, and I must echo about Prof. Mankin’s Greek myth class. Roman Experience was fantastic too – so much fun that I earned a concentration in Classics (as an engineer), after tacking on another legendary course – The Comic Theater – as a senior. Final assignment was to watch Animal House.

  60. Jason Wyatt, Class of 2002

    Maas changed my life. I have not used an alarm clock since 1998. I have the most amazing sleep health. I benefit from what he taught me every single night. The most useful of useful classes.

  61. Mary Shepherd (Buchmayr), Class of 1992

    Dr Robert Venebles’ two semester class on US and Native American Relations. Eye opening for me at the time.

    • Rachel Rubino, Class of 1994

      Eye opening for me as well!! Really appreciated and enjoyed this class.

    • Kelley Prebil, Class of 1999

      Agree about Dr. Bob’s classes! I lived in Akwe:kon and appreciated him bringing attention to Native American Studies, American Indian Program, and the local Native history and identity. We loved it at “The House” when tours from the class would come by to learn about our abode and its rich symbolism. Dr. Bob’s lectures were always packed!

      • Steve D, Class of 1995

        The article title immediately brought this series to my mind as well. Professor Venables animated, inspired, entertained, and brought universal themes of the conflicts, behaviors, interests, and dilemmas of human existence to life through the lens of Native American history. Hands down the most memorable classes I took at Cornell!

  62. Edward Chai, MD, Class of 1991

    graham bailey applicable mathematics (421) non linear dynamics and dynamical systems

    american dream fred somkin history 281

    early warfare east and west charles peterson history 383

    introduction to modern china asian studies 221 edward gunn

    ethics and public life philosophy 283 henry shue

    too many to count

    four years is too short

  63. Mark Morein, Class of 1977

    Gothic and Victorian Lit, by Prof Eve Sedgwick in 77. She had a wonderful policy, if there was a book you really didn’t like you could explain why to her and not go to class. Only one pass per person , but it meant that everyone there was really interested !

  64. Andrea Koch, Class of 1992

    Professor Ted Lowi’s Introduction to American Government was amazing.

  65. H. White, Class of 1970

    During the turbulent 1960s decade, Robin Williams’ classes on race, desegration, bigotry & stereotyping, and family values seemed deeply appropriate. Williams was a lon-time faculty member and retired soon afterwards.

  66. Benjamin fish, Class of 1999

    I agree with Venable’s class on native Americans.
    Psych 101 with Maas (which my father took as well). I don’t even know what an alarm clock is.

    I will add 2 of my own:
    Any comm class with Brian Earle was great.

    And business law with Dale Grossman was a life changer for me and the reason I became an atty.

  67. Jocelyn Bowie, Class of 1981

    I agree with everyone’s comment about Pierce Williams, but I’m surprised to be the first to mention Isabel Hull’s classes on modern German history. She is an absolutely hands-down amazing professor.

  68. Steve Kawaler, Class of 1980

    Frank Drake and Yervant Terzian co-taught Astro 101 in the 1970s. Two brilliant lecturers (and kind souls) who recently passed away.

    • Anne Paulin, Class of 1987

      Yes, I so enjoyed Astro 101 and 102 from Prof Terzian. I can still picture him spinning in his desk chair to demonstrate how rotating planets speed up or slow down. He was holding a brick in each hand and stretching out his arms and pulling them in again to change his rotation speed, much like a figure skater would (without the bricks of course).

  69. Mark Feldman, Class of 1984

    Don Greenberg’s Structural Concepts (ARCH222) which I took in the spring of 1981. With his wonderful foam beam and highly targeted conceptual teaching, we learned structural design from base principles, and how to ask the right questions. His exams were held on Saturdays, without a time limit – and the problems were specifically ones we had not encountered before. The requirement to review, frame and solve these problems taught us how to think in ways that have nourished me often over the years. So important to so many of us.

  70. Jonathan Cohen, Class of 1978

    Liberalism and its Critics taught by Issac Kramnick
    Intro to English Literature with M.H. Abrams

    • Nicholas Adams, Class of 1970

      I would add M.H. Abrams on Romantic poetry––was it English 365? When he recited Wordsworth, looking out on the Quad, you could almost imagine the poet right there in Upstate New York. as I teacher I used his definitions of Romanticisms (and quoted from his book, The Mirror and the Lamp) over and over. He was a person of extraordinary intelligence, gentle and sharp at the same time.

  71. Scot Martin, Class of 1981

    I would nominate two courses/professors that had great influence on me: Professor Daniel Sisler who taught, among other courses, Economics of Agricultural Geography and Professor Dick Aplin who taught Introduction to Business Management. Professor Sisler, who was blind, would amaze his classes by writing on the chalk board, wander around the stage and then return to point at exactly the words he last wrote. Professor Aplin in one class, would tear off his shirt to reveal a graph written on his undershirt that he wanted everyone to remember! No one forgot that graph.

    • Mindy Comstock, Class of 1985

      Hey Scott! Mindy Manley down here in Texas, from hockey at Cornell.

      I loved Prof. Sissler, too. I’ll never forget the story of his friend who had a llama in Alaska. That llama would come in the house, settle down to watch TV, and eat his own bowl of popcorn.

      He had the best stories!

      How are you?

    • Peter Matlon

      I served as Dan Sisler’s TA in 1971-73 and he was absolutely the most impressive teacher and role model I’ve met in my life. He was a gifted speaker who explained the nuances of complex economic, agronomic, food science and geographic interactions in memorable, enjoyable and (apparently) effortless ways. But behind each lecture were hours of careful preparation, all organized by Dan onto braille note cards to which he would refer from time to time. He loved telling stories and the power of humor. One of his favorite stunts at the end of a lecture was to surreptitiously feel his braille watch hidden behind the lectern, turn his glass eyes up toward a wall clock and announce “I see that we’ve come to the end of our class today” before dismissing the students. Students were always dumbfounded, until they broke out laughing at the joke he had just played on them. Dan’s blindness gifted him with an intellect and strength of character that translated into making him a great TEACHER in the large sense. I’m forever grateful for having known and worked with him.

  72. Kenneth L Gallaher, Class of 1975

    Rold Hofmann taught a graduate course which I would call Melecular Orbital Theory for Organic Chemists. It was Thursday and Saturday at 9am as I recall. I audited it as I was nearly through with my PhD but made nearly all the classes Non-mathematical – he really made you feel like you understood it.

    • Robert (Bob) Chin, Class of 1980

      Roald Hoffmann before he won the Nobel Prize (1980) – teaching freshmen Chemistry, 207-208 in the late 70′. We were his first freshmen chem class. His first prelim was a math game which covered nothing in our notes or textbook. When the average turned out to be a 50 – I remember him telling us, “That’s why you are at Cornell”. I was about to move back to Texas realizing this was going to be hard.

      • David Bilmes, Class of 1978

        My freshman year I took Chem 108 with Roald Hoffman. It was the Chem class for students who weren’t pre-med majors, but needed to fulfill their science requirement. I always struggled in Chem, but he was an amazing professor and I remember how he was always doing all sorts of exciting chemical reaction demonstrations. I was so happy for him when he later won the Nobel Prize.

  73. Michael P Hymanson, Class of 1974

    Particularly enjoyed Urie Bronfenbrenner’s course on Development of Human Behavior.

  74. Michael Marrero, Class of 1982

    Intro Biology -Prof. Keeton- he wrote the textbook used by almost every intro bio course in the country!

    • David Bilmes, Class of 1978

      I was lucky enough to have Keeton for the intro Bio class my freshman year. It was the 100-level Bio class for students who weren’t pre-med majors. He gave half the lectures, and another professor whose name I don’t recall gave the other half. Whenever Keeton lectured, the room was packed. When his teaching partner lectured, the room was half-empty.
      I still remember Keeton getting a spontaneous standing ovation after he finished giving a lecture on the dark reaction of photosynthesis. His lecture about birds, and how they find their way to fly north and south each year was also memorable, as was his lecture about the heart, since he had had heart surgery.
      At my 40th reunion, we stayed in the new dorm on West Campus named for him, and my class will be staying there again for our upcoming 45th reunion next month.

  75. Nancy Rogers, Class of 1978

    I wish I could go back and take some of these classes with these professors that I missed when I was in school or only sat in on. I feel lucky I got to hear Dr. Maas talk to the Cornell alumni group in Maryland about sleep many years ago, but I wish I had taken his class.

  76. Heather Bouchey, Class of 1992

    Human Sexuality, Andrea Parrot (I think)

  77. Kyle Buelow, Class of 1989

    Dr. Raffensperger’s Cultural Entomology class was tremendous, both in how he taught and the content. I remember hearing Muddy Water’s King Bee as I walked in one day, then he taught us about bees. I also remember him teaching about the origins of the black plague. Rare to have such takeaways from a class. He was the best professor I ever had.

  78. Eugene Sorets, Class of 1984

    L. Pierce Williams’s Western Civ was an absolute revelation for this freshman. He presented history in all its uncertainty and drama, not to be taken for granted. I still have all his books.

  79. Charlie Staadecker

    There were three courses in the Hotel School that were definitely in the category of memorable and unforgettable.
    1. Jerry Wanderstock’s “ Introduction to Meats” where a whole side of beef was dissected.
    2. Laura Lee Smith a five credit course in Chemistry. Would make or break your GPA. She had a habit of writing critical formulas on the blackboard with her right hand and with an eraser in her left the words would disappear to the groans of the entire class.
    3. John Sherry a famed NYC attorney traveled to Ithaca every Thursday to conduct his class which he did over 35 years. He wrote the preeminent book on hotel law “The Laws of Innkeepers”. He was Conrad Hilton’s personal attorney.

  80. John Pijanowski, Class of 1999

    ED240 The Art of Teaching created by George Posner

    • Linnea Johnson, Class of 1977

      Surprised to see Dr. Posner’s name after all these years. My father was his graduate advisor at what was then SUNYA. I did take the course but my talent for educating was nil at best.

  81. Judith (Judy) Singer Bercuvitz, Class of 1960

    Arthur Mizener’s course in Shakespeare, Donald Grout’s course in the History of Western Music, which became a famous textbook after I took the course, Goerge Healy’s course in British literature taught me so much about British poetry that I never forgot (did he become the Rare Book librarian?), Nabokov’s course (I took it about its last year, before he became “rich” from Lolita) and was it Prof. Rice who taught a survey course in Western History? Maybe Corey can tell me.

  82. Nicholas Adams, Class of 1970

    There were many. No one has mentioned Esther Gordon Dotson’s lectures on Renaissance Art; she was also my adviser and I wrote my thesis for her. I asked her, many years later, how I managed an art history major by only doing courses in the middle ages and the Renaissance. She smiled and shrugged. I don’t think she was fond of rules (the administration was not generous to her in her early years of teaching there) and she wanted me to do what I wanted to do. But I would also add Robert Farrell on Chaucer; Mario Einaudi on European government; Andrew Hacker on American government; Anthony Caputi on Shakespeare. I still live off my college courses.

  83. Laura McClellan

    Professor Robert Summers’ first-year Contracts class at the Law School.

  84. John Blackton, Class of 1966

    The Steve &Mario Show
    2PM Goldwyn Smith B

    Mario Einaudi and Stephen Muller’s engaging intellectual romp through Bismarck, Weimar, Italian Fascism and more.
    Under the flag of Comparative Government

  85. Mike McGarry, Class of 1989

    Dick Baer’s Religion, Ethics, and the Environment (NR 409 maybe?) was one of the few classes in my major (Natural Resources) that held appeal to non-majors.

    Freshman writing seminar titled “Writing from Experience” referred to among participants as “Lying from Imagination.”

    “Verts” was a 6-credit course in vertebrates that had t-shirts.

    • APS, Class of 1990

      I was reading all the way down the list before posting Vertz and here it is! Comparative anatomy from earthworms on out.

      Also Karl Niklas’ Botany, Tom Gavin’s Field Biology

  86. David G Marsh MD, Class of 1965

    And who can forget Brit Lit Prof George Healey reading,John Donnie’s, “Death be not Proud,” the day after JFK was shot. Not a dry eye in the crowd?

  87. Cindy Sommer, Class of 1966

    Biology 101 in 1962 taught by William Keeton! I remember everyone hanging their fetal pigs outside the windows of Donlon Hall to keep them cool – then bringing them in to study for the lab exam.

  88. Lisa Sotir Ozkan, Class of 1988

    Ted Lowy’s Intro to American Government 101 – his class packed Bailey, and I still hear “Discourse – Discourse is the heart of the matter.”

    Walter LaFeber’s course, of course

    Any course taught by Nellie Furman in the French Lit department

  89. Richard C. Goldberg, Class of 1974

    Additional mention is required concerning Profs. Joel Silbey, R. Laurence Moore and Sewall Cushing Strout, all giants. Prof. Silbey provided invaluable insight into the historical basis of American political voting behavior; Prof. Moore (happily still with us), showed the uninitiated what American intellectual history was, and why it matters, deeply; and Prof. Strout fleshed out in both historical and literary contexts the elements that infiltrate and influence American culture and institutions. What these scholars showed to us in the classes of the 1970s continue to provide powerful tools of understanding 50 years later.

  90. Barbara A. Bruno, Class of 1968

    I don’t recall his name, but a professor who taught the Chaucer course in the late 60s seemed like a Chaucer character who had come to life. Delightful!

    • Victor Reus, Class of 1969

      I think it was Anthony Caputi, and I agree.

  91. Elizabeth Grover, Class of 1975

    For me, definitely the best classes were American Foreign Policy with LaFeber and Polenberg’s Recent American History class. I also took a class on the American Presidency in the Government Department in fall semester 1974 after Nixon resigned and was pardoned by Ford–very timely! My son attended Cornell and took a few courses online that I also listened to–American Pop Culture with Glenn Altschuler was terrific, especially since it covered an era in which I grew up. There was also a class on Prisons in American Studies (can’t remember the professor’s name or the exact name of the class) which gave me great insight into the American prison system and the reasons why so many minorities are incarcerated in the US.

  92. Barry Biederman, Class of 1952

    I would add Fritz Stern’s course in German history. He was just starting out on a magnificent career, producing a landmark book on Bismarck and rising to become the Provost of Columbia. An electrifying teacher.

    Also, Carl Stephenson. His seminar on Medieval History was a study in how to approach the past as lived experience. He taught lessons applicable to any historical era – or any humanistic study. Another great teacher.

  93. Steve Lockhart, Class of 1984

    Wow, so many talented and dedicated professors, but three stand out in my memory.

    I was fortunate to take a course in Dostoevsky, taught by visiting professor Nina Perlina. An entire course in Dostoevsky–what a treat!

    Bruce Land’s lab course in neurobiology was very memorable. For the final project, each team was handed a vial of some unknown substance. We had to guess what it was by measuring its effect upon the conduction of impulses along a frog’s nerve cell.

    As a EE, I want to say how much I appreciate Professor Ralph Bolgiano’s course in electromagnetic theory. In addition to helping me understand a difficult subject, he was inspiring–instilling an appreciation for these laws of nature. “Let there be light!”

  94. Gordon Greenfield, Class of 1989

    I was a teaching assistant for Doc Aplin’s Intro to Business 101 in AgEc. He was one of the most passionate, funny, caring, committed professors ever. For a big lecture, survey course, he was always looking for ways to shake things up to help engage students and help them remember key points. Intro business courses are not generally considered ‘fun,’ but he did his best. I miss the man and it is still one of my fondest memories of grad school.

  95. Judy Thoroughman, Class of 1993

    Andrea Parrot’s Human Sexuality class was the best. She did a lecture as Queen Victoria and answered questions as her highness after the TAs had handed out graham crackers to everyone as she explained the origin of the cracker. She hosted a live sonogram in class, had an alum that was drag queen as a guest, and invited a current student talk about what it was like to live with HIV in a period before treatments were widely available.

  96. Bill Leonard

    Joe Bugliari’s classes in Business Law during the 1970s were a special treat. His engaging personality, lucid explanations, relatable examples, and sense of humor truly brought otherwise dry subject matter to life.

  97. Luis Chaya, Class of 1989

    I really enjoyed professor Harry Conway’s “Mechanics of Materials”. Brilliantly explained!. His british humor was outstanding. I particularly remember when, referring to a classmate’s comment, he said: “You might remember I previously explained that the formula is an know what an approximation is? If you stick your finger in the ocean, its level will rise….but not very much!

  98. Lewis B. Ward-Baker, Class of 1952

    Henry Alonzo Myers had us sitting spellbound on the edge of our seats so as not to miss a word three times a week as he took us through “Drama and the Theater, Part I” from the Greeks through the Romans,the Middle Ages, and Shakespeare. My life on amateur stages over the past seventy years has been inspired and enlightened by what he said.

  99. Dustin Moskowitz, Class of 1991

    So I took Intro to Wines (and Spirits) HA430 in Fall 1990, as a CAS senior. The Lecturer was Ms. Barbara Lang. Why would she have not been included in the list of teachers?

    (I truly have all my notes from school, and an entire 3-ring binder for Wines alone!)

  100. DAVID KIRKWOOD, Class of 1968

    Harry Caplan’s “Baby” Greek was a legendary course from the 1920’s into the 70’s. He combined the seriousness of a classical scholar with the wit of a Jewish comedian–and never forgot a student.

  101. Mary Bailey

    Dominick LaCapra’s courses on 19th and 20th Century Intellectual History (1971-72?) were thrilling, models of great lectures: absolute command of an inclusive narrative and, often, a soaring flight into a new hypothesis he was just beginning to work out. He connected all the dots before we knew who all the dots were, thus propelling our own research and development. Grounding and inspirational: I remember a few standing ovations in Bailey Hall.

    • Bruce Taylor, Class of 1972

      Agree with everything here. One of my favorite moments at Cornell was his recall of moments he had trouble acclimating himself to French culture when he was at the Sorbonne. He recalled a number of Frenchmen with “crises de foie”. He was surprised at how these folks had spiritual crises. The French idiom for an upset stomach is “crise de foi”. I never missed one of his lectures.

    • Rick Grinter, Class of 1976

      Dominick LaCapra’s lectures were works of art. I still study Intellectual History today – there are some wonderful lectures recorded in the 90’s and available on YouTube by Michael Sugrue. These remind me of LaCapra.

  102. Bevan Das, Class of 1990

    David Delchamps course on circuits in electrical engineering. The only professor who wrote, in cursive, legibly, on the blackboard as fast as he talked, throughout the whole lecture.

    Any course with Gordon Teskey on classical poetry or theater. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of poems and plays, and delighted us with story after story throughout class times. Sadly, they were only small class sizes.

  103. John McDaniel, Class of 1982

    Wow, What a lot of good names – Profs. Silbey, Lowi, Teitlebaum, Bugliari. Here are a few more – Prof. Maxwell and Prof. Muckstadt from OR&IE, Prof. Sachse from Theoretical and Applied Mechanics and one I think of often – Prof. Schuler who taught an economics course regarding government programs such as building a bridge. Each one was welcoming to all students — whether the students were part of their field, bright or not so bright.

  104. Mark Kritz, Class of 1959

    Back in the 1950s engineering was a five year program, and one of the classes I particularly looked forward to in my last year on campus (1959-60) was Vladimir Nabokov’s. But that turned out to be the year that Hurricane Lolita swept VN off to Montreux, and Herb Gold came in to teach the class instead.

    Gold wasn’t VN, but he was excellent in his own way. I enjoyed his class very much, and have followed his work to this day. (He is living in San Francisco – where the wings of chance eventually swept me as well!)

    And of course VN later published his lectures in a two volume set, allowing me and many others access to his Cornell lectures.

  105. Robert Wappman, MPA, Class of 1992

    Intro to American Politics with Professors Ted Lowi and Ben Ginsburg was a staple for anyone pursuing American politics and government. And, their textbook was widely used in countless editions across the U.S. in countless colleges and universities for aspiring politicos.

  106. Logan M. Cheek III, Class of 1960

    Two nominations, both of which predate most reader’s’ experiences:

    1. Before Lefeber or Lowi, there was Dexter Perkins’ “Ideals and Self Interest in American Foreign Policy”. Perkins had retired as a full Prof. at the University of Rochester, but agreed to come to Cornell as the John L. Senior Professor. In those days, there were very few named professorships, so that alone was a BFD (Big Fantastic Deal 😉). But the Senior professorship was unique in its day (and may still be) in that it paid the holder’s salary as well as for his TA’s. His expected stay of one year stretched into several, from 1954-1959. Always packed Goldwin Smith A.

    As sideshow, it happened that in addition to his Boston Latin, Harvard and Cambridge credentials, and President of the American Historical Association, his mother-in-law was Wilma Lord of Fanny Farmer of the cookbook and chocolate factory fame. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook is still in print 126 years after its 1896 first edition. In my early career years in Rochester, the Fanny Farmer chocolate factory on South Main Street was a constant reminder of my days on the Hill with Dexter.

    2. Walter Berns and his predecessor, Robert E. Cushman, our constitutional law scholars. I attended Cushman’s last lecture in the Spring of 1957, when all other government classes were dismissed to attend. I thought “Who can top this?”

    That happened to be Walter Berns. Berns was the only Professor I experienced who not only received a standing applause for his semester’s last lecture, but frequently received them for others. He was, unfortunately, a victim of the 1969 riots, in which he had to flee Ithaca under threat from Thomas Jones, later a Cornell trustee and an executive with CitiGroup, Traveler’s, and TIAA-CREF.

    Those events also led to the departure of many others of distinction in our history and government departments. Principal among them was Allan Bloom. But Berns recouped with help from Joe Coors, (class of 1939), and in addition to his association with the founder of the Heritage Foundation, went on to a distinguished career at Georgetown, and resident scholar at The American Enterprise Institute.

    Jones later attempted to apologize; Berns ignored him, noting, “First you tried to kill me, and now you manage my retirement fund!”

    • Logan M. CHeek III, Class of 1960

      Additional observations on Robert Cushman and Walter Berns.

      Clearly, Robert Cushman’s All Star students was (ta,tah, drum roll and cymbals, please) the late Associate Justice of the United States, RBG.

      I’d also nominate as Professor Berns’ career major league, all star student my late classmate, Janet Reno ’60, later US Attorney General. Janet started and graduated as a chemistry major, but I’m sure it was Berns inspired teaching that steered her into law school and public service.

  107. David Ginter, Class of 1984

    A couple years ago I was doing a deep dive on the Milgram experiment and Stanley Milgram. Remembering my Psych 101 experience, I made an inquiry on Dr. Maas’ website for recommendations as to the best books on the topic and the man. Same day I get a phone call from Dr. Maas himself and chatted with him on the matter for more than a half hour. That is a personal highlight for me.

  108. Diane McChesney, Class of 2002

    “Monkey Chow” – Exotic Animal Nutrition with Harold Hintz. Slide-based with some very random topics thrown in every few minutes to keep attention.

  109. Lauren Trakimas Frye, Class of 2007

    Roman Art- I can’t remember the professor, but he had many slides from his own experiences excavating at former sites of the Roman Empire. This was refreshing for a pre-med student.

  110. Anthony Blackmon, Class of 1979

    Where’s “Brownies with the Dean”

  111. Bill Johnson, Class of 1970

    Archie Ammons taught English 101.

    There were about 20 of us in his class. Archie was a poet…a great one at that. He was among the first to receive a MacArthur Award. His class was composed of students from all corners of Cornell. I was an engineering student. I once submitted an essay hand-written and one page long. He gave me a B+ with the annotation “Powerful, Short”

    He was the one professor I continued to meet with through out my time at Cornell.

  112. Alec Stevens, Class of 1994

    Not much love in these comments for engineering classes!

    Among the notable favorites, I took Psych 101 with Maas as well as Wines. Another memorable class was my Freshman Writing Seminar class “Writing about Film”, although I can’t remember the name of the professor. Tim something, I think. I still remember all the classic movies we had to watch for “homework,” like Citizen Kane, Vertigo, Rear Window, and others.

    In the ugly buildings of the Engineering Quad, however, Civil Engineering 116 (a/k/a Bridges) with Professor Mary Sansalone was a great class for me. It was hands on and accessible, when most of my other classes as a freshman engineering student were theoretical and taught in lecture fashion with 100-500 students. Classes like CEE 116 persuaded me to stick with an engineering major with the hope that I could get into more hands-on work, which I definitely did.

    The capstone of my engineering studies was MAE 490 – Special Investigations in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, a/k/a the CUHEV team. In this “class”, we built hybrid electric vehicles and raced them against other engineering schools at the end of each academic year. Even though I no longer work in vehicular engineering, it’s safe to say that the CUHEV experience defined my time at Cornell. It also opened the door to my career as an engineer and created a lifelong group of friends.

    • Tom Clausen, Class of 1973

      I think the Film Prof. you mentioned may have been Don Fredrickson, who provided wonderful context and insight to the classic films he featured.

  113. Rick Kuhar, Class of 1986

    Pollenberg’s Recent American History was my favorite class at Cornell, and I’m a Hotelie! With each lecture, more like storytelling, he found a way to connect the story to Ithaca or Cornell.

    I wonder if anyone remembers”Ethnographic Films”? We used to call it Wednesday Night at the Movies!

  114. Natalie C Tyler, Class of 1973

    Geology 101-102 was my chosen “science” and how I feared it.

    Professor Shailer Shaw Philbrick was a genius at connecting geologic history in a comprehensive way. He took us on field trips. I loved the way he spoke of the wonders of French Lick, Indiana. I learned that passion is all around: he cared for a rock the way I cared for a sonnet and his excitement was contagious. The guest lectures with Carl Sagan were a bonus.
    Science was no longer opaque to me after my year with Professor Philbrick.

  115. Aaron Feldman, Class of 2000

    Prof Neal Zaslaw’s Haydn and Mozart. What a great way to connect with some of the best music ever written.

    • Anne Paulin, Class of 1987

      Phew, I had to scroll far down to see someone finally mention Neal Zaslaw! I took “Bach to Debussy” with him as well as his Mozart class – an entire semester just on Mozart. Woot!

  116. Michael Ernstoff

    This comment is different. It relates a course feared and detested by most Electrical Engineering students in the very early 1960’s .

    Professor Osborne’s courses in AC and DC machines was required for graduation with an EE degree. The fact that many students had great difficulty getting a passing grade was reflected in typical prelim exam grades; they were often down around 60% and they were not graded on a curve. In hindsight the poor grades were probably a combination of a failing to understand Professor Osborne’s objectives as well as the belief that studying AC and DC machinery was a waste of time in a era when transistors were on the verge of dramatically changing electronics.

    In the end, Professor Osborne offered a double or nothing option, so students could graduate. Pass a one-term make up course and you’d get credit for both courses toward your course requirement.

    It is often said that what is old is new again. Today, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), electric motors consume more 50 percent of all electrical energy in the United States. Electric motor design has once again become an important topic.

    f.y.i. I passed the all the courses in the sequence.

  117. Steven Murphy, Class of 1979

    Dr. Gerald Fink’s intro Genetics course stands out me. Notorious for low means on his prelims, I must have been inspired, as I got a 100 on the first exam …. It was all down hill from there. And counting genetic mutations in fruit flies …. I can still smell the ether from the poorly working hoods in the Plant Sci. building.

    • Yolanda Santos-King, Class of 1976

      Ahh yes Dr. Fink! what wonderful memories of counting flies! I barely passed….and I was a bio major (who was not pre-med…which was a rarity!)

  118. Rick Grinter, Class of 1976

    I took so many memorable courses during my time at Cornell; Sagan’s Astronomy 102, Maas’ Psychology 101, and Mack’s Psychopathology. A couple that were not, in my opinion, sufficiently highlighted were Intellectual History by Dominick LaCapra and Problems of Mind by Norman Malcolm.

  119. David Schwartz, Class of 1973

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned Bio 320: Neurobiology and Behavior. Friends and I called it “Gee Whiz Biology” — an accolade for the many awesome (in the true sense of the word) things taught. The first half of the course, Animal Behavior, was taught by two idols of mine, Tom Eisner and Steve Emlen. They got applause after every lecture. Eisner, a Holocaust survivor or refugee, had a celebrated career and was one of the founders of the field known as chemical ecology. When he died some fifteen years ago, Natural History magazine ran a stirring tribute. I haven’t heard anything about Emlen and would like to know more about him if anyone knows.

    • Cindy Duke, Class of 1985

      I took this class in the ‘80’s. It was wonderful. I LOVE prairie dogs!

  120. Paul Jensen, Class of 1971

    I really enjoyed Professor Newhall’s Physics coure

  121. Anne Paulin, Class of 1987

    I took Alison Lurie’s Children’s Lit class in my very last semester at Cornell thinking I’d be able to relax while reading Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland. I had never heard of Lurie at the time, but you’d think the fact that it was a 400-level course would have clued me in that this would not be an easy A…

  122. Larry Matlack, Class of 1967

    Nelson Pike. Freshman year in Philosophy of Religion. I’d never seen anyone so intensely involved in his subject. My recollection is no notes.

    • Marilyn Brewer Lhuillier, Class of 1965

      Yes, I remember this course Philosophy of Religion 322 (you can find an article on this course by Nelson Pike in the 1964 Cornellian yearbook).

      Apart from being one of the handsomest professors on campus (a majority of the class was feminine) he presented an argument in favor of the existence of God, and followed up with an argument in favor of the non-existence of God. And his last words at the end of the course were: “It’s up to you to decide.”

  123. Cindy Duke

    I was a graduate student in the ILR school and took Arbitration from Prof Gross. I remember getting my first couple of papers back, usually briefs on sample cases. These initial efforts on my part came back with lots of notes from Prof Gross, written in red pen, at the end of sentences or paragraphs I had written and usually read, “Why is this relevant?”, or “How do you know this?”, or simply, “Why?”, “So what?”, “Where’s your proof of this?”. WOW- I learned to think clearly and critically pretty fast! Today, my partner and I enjoy reading editorials, letters to the editor, and other opinion pieces through the lens of Prof Gross. In honor of Prof Gross, we often give the writer a failing grade!

  124. Betsy Landsman, Class of 1976

    What about “Geology 101” or “Rocks for Jocks”? I took it in my senior year as a mandatory science or math class. Although as a Comparative Literature major I had no interest in rocks, it was actually fun and very interesting to go down into the gorges on field trips. Thankfully my housemate, Kim Knowlton, helped me along as she was a Geology major. The rest of the class were Cornell athletes completing the mandatory course for graduation.

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