In his more than 40 years as an active alumni volunteer, software developer, and program manager, Paul Cashman has become known among Cornellians as a good person to have on your team if you want to get things accomplished.
Observant, knowledgeable, persistent, and technically astute, he has repeatedly helped individuals and organizations achieve goals and pioneer new processes. He has been enlisted over and over again by friends—classmates and university administrators alike—and his contributions have had lasting effects on Cornell.
Encouraged by one of his mentors, then-class president Marty Sherman ’73, MHA ’75, Paul devised an affinity networking program that identified people by their interests and dictated specialized contact with them in advance of Reunion, based on those interests. This helped increase his class’s Reunion attendance significantly. He further developed that program and advocated for its use by other classes and eventually by Cornell’s Division of Alumni Affairs and Development, resulting in more robust connections between alumni and each other and their alma mater.
Paul and his wife Jane are long-time supporters of the Cornell Feline Health Center. In collaboration with his friend, the Center’s Associate Director Dr. Bruce Kornreich, Paul helped two teams of graduate information science students develop an app called Purrfect Weight, which helps owners of obese cats manage their pet’s weight loss. On the strength of that work, he was asked to be a technical mentor at the world’s first Animal Health Hackathon, co-sponsored by Entrepreneurship@Cornell and the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2017, an event that spawned inventive software and a valuable annual CVM tradition.
It is no surprise that mentoring is the aspect of his rich volunteer history he most values, given how important his own mentors have been to him. At the 2013 Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference, Paul was asked by his peers to be class president, a role he wasn’t sure he had the vision to properly fulfil. Paul’s classmate and good friend Jon Kaplan ’73, MBA ’74, who had served as class president in the past, reassured him: “Do you think I had vision?” he asked Paul.
“I don’t know,” Paul said, “Did you?”
Jon said, “No, I just did what I thought was best for the class.”
As president, Paul took that simple advice to heart, managing in his six years in the role to increase his class’s engagement and participation in alumni events, volunteerism, and giving. He went on to serve as director at large, vice president, and president of the Cornell Association of Class Officers (CACO), where he worked to increase peer-to-peer contact. Paul understands and values the importance of partnering with the university’s Alumni Affairs staff to get things done, lessons he learned from senior staffers and friends Margaret Gallo ’80 and Lisa Bushlow ’91.
“Paul was one of the most talented volunteers I ever worked with in the Office of Alumni Affairs,” recalls Margaret Gallo. “Observant, approachable, and on top of all things class-related, Paul was a wonderful collaborator and managed the heck out of any Cornell project he was handed. It is so fitting that Paul’s many years of commitment to and leadership at the university are being recognized with a most meaningful and prestigious award.”
Cornell University—a worldwide family of scholars, researchers, staff, and alumni representing thousands of affinities—is grateful to be the beneficiary of Paul Cashman’s expertise and friendship.
Written by Emily Hopkins, freelance writer in Ithaca, NY.