"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, May 25, 2015

1. Frank H.T. Rhodes

For our final post, we're featuring someone who "graduated" from Cornell at the same time as our class. The words at the top of the blog, that Cornell students "dream bigger dreams" are from his 1995 commencement speech, and he'll be back in Ithaca with us next week for our 20th Reunion. We couldn't be happier to call Frank Rhodes an honorary member of the Class of 1995. 

Hope to see everyone back on the Hill in a few days to catch up and celebrate!

Bonita Springs, Florida & Ithaca, New York 

Tell us about what you have been doing since you left Cornell.
Well, I retired when your class graduated in '95. And for the first few years, I did a great deal of traveling. I was a member of half a dozen boards, General Electric and the Mellon Foundation and I was Chair of the National Science Board for a while. And that took an immense amount of time. Since about two years ago, I've done much less. We now divide our time between Ithaca and Florida. I am in Florida at the moment, enjoying the sunshine.

What is one of your favorite memories of your time at Cornell?
You know, the memories crowd in. I think the happiest times were just meeting with faculty, staff, and especially students. We would have a student breakfast once a week and it was kind of an open house. We restricted the numbers, as I remember it, to 25. And people could just come and talk about anything they wanted to. They were always overbooked and those were really some of the best times. But I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. There were no downs, it was all up and whether it was on campus people, students, faculty, or alumni or trustees, it was just such a positive time in our lives. We are still in touch. When we are down here we go to various Cornell events and we go to events in the city periodically. We are going to one next month. And we participate in activities in Ithaca from time to time. But we really have, I really have, retired. And I spend what time I have writing books.

    Do you have any advice for students starting at Cornell this year? 
Make the most of it. It's the richest experience possible. It’s four brief years and it flies by. It is just such a magical time. And I know that, not because I have been a student there, but because we have had grandchildren who have been students there. As undergraduates and at the graduate school. One was an undergraduate, one from the medical school, and the two granddaughters are undergraduates, and a third is a PhD there. So we know firsthand as a family what a great place it is.

Monday, May 18, 2015

2. Matthew French and Alison Torrillo French

Every few weeks, Cornell '95 Faces features a profile of our class officers. This week, meet the Class President and Vice President. 

Vienna, Virginia · Engineering and Agriculture and Life Sciences


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
We currently live in suburban Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC. Our daughter Sarah was born in January 2011 and our son Ben in October 2012. 

After Cornell graduation, Alison lived in NYC for a while doing some hospitality consulting, then moved to DC to work for a nonprofit. After 5 years, she went to work in marketing at American University, got her MBA, got married to Matt (not in that order), and went into consulting. In January 2014, she started up her own consulting company, Alto Solutions, LLC, which helps organizations and their people manage through change, improve their leadership and communications and build strong teams. Being an entrepreneur has truly been a breath of fresh air and has allowed her to do the work she loves while achieving balance and flexibility. When she's not working or spending time with her family, she is privileged to serve as the President of the great Class of 1995! 

By day, Matt is Assistant Director at the University of Southern California’s applied research lab called Information Sciences Institute, which oddly, has a campus in Arlington, Virginia. He has the privilege to lead a great team of researchers in the embedded computing area. By nights and weekends, he's Dad to two high-energy kids. And of course, there’s being a husband to a certain President of the class…

What are your duties as class officer and what have you enjoyed about the job?
The Vice President is one of the more malleable roles and has generally been in charge of ‘special projects.’ The special project that I’ve enjoyed the most was to lead the development of our Class Council. While we have a great set of Class Officers, we wanted to expand our outreach to be more comprehensive and representative of the class. The Class Council is a great way for us to not only have extra helpers for the officers, but also serves as a great way to train future officers or retain previous officers as advisors. I have been really impressed with the people that have volunteered for council. They have really extended the class’s capabilities and brought a lot of new energy, enthusiasm, and great ideas.


I have served as a class officer since our senior year at Cornell. One of my fond early memories, which helped set my path as a volunteer leader, was getting on a bus at oh-dark-thirty  from Ithaca to New York City for what was then the CACO (Cornell Association of Class Officers, now CALC) annual meeting. Here, our officers were joined at our lunch table by former President Frank H.T. Rhodes, who encouraged us to dream those bigger dreams by giving back through alumni service. After three terms (15 years!) as Class Correspondent, wherein I connected with and learned so much about so many of our classmates, taking on the role of President these past 5 years seemed the logical next step. In this capacity, I lead a phenomenal team of 9 other officers and 14 Council members, supporting all of our class activities, from dues payer recognition to fundraising to managing our budget to communicating via our website, listserv, Facebook page, class column, and this blog to planning for our 20th Reunion. It's been a fantastic journey and I can't wait to see the fruits of these efforts on the Hill in just a few weeks! 

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

Can I cheat and say The Big Red Marching Band? It was after all a gym class! Seriously though, while the Engineering courses I took were all of excellent level, Band allowed me to meet a ton of great people on Day 1, learn the ropes at Cornell, get advice from upper classmen in my major that I normally wouldn’t have met, and provide opportunities for leadership.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?
It's incredibly difficult to pinpoint just one. A few that come to mind are: performing with the Cornell University Chorus and its a cappella subset, After Eight - in particular, arch sings and the time we serenaded Frank and Rosa Rhodes during Trustee weekend; shooting a Cinderella-meets-the Godfather spoof in multiple parts of campus as part of a Comms video production class; wine touring during senior week; and all the wonderful friends made along the journey.

What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?
 If I were to be starting Cornell today, on the surface my experience would be completely different – they remade West Campus, renovated Phillips and Duffield Hall, heck even the Marching Band has a new building. But what doesn’t change at Cornell is the excellent all-around education they provide – and it’s not just the classes but the opportunities to be involved in so many high quality extracurriculars. Make sure to graduate taking advantage of these and becoming a well rounded person.

What random or surprising encounters with Cornell or Cornellians have you experienced since you left?
While on our honeymoon in Positano, Italy, in July 2003, Matt and I ran into classmate Azfar Hashmi at an ATM! I hadn't seen him since we both lived in Manhattan in the mid-90s. He and his wife were also honeymooning, and it happened to be the one night none of us had plans, so we all had a lovely dinner together and caught up on old times.

What are you most looking forward to at Reunion 2015?
It's so exciting to me that our 20th Reunion (holy cow, is it really our 20th?!) coincides with Cornell's Sesquicentennial. It makes me feel like we are really part of something big and important. I often think back to how we "graduated" with President Rhodes in 1995, and now our Reunion occurring the year our alma mater turns 150 is another pretty neat milestone. And, of course, I am also looking forward to catching up with old friends...and maybe even making some new ones!

Monday, May 11, 2015

3. Brian Farfel Rose

Several of the alums featured between now and reunion were degree marshals for their respective colleges during our commencement ceremony in May 1995, an honor awarded to the two students in each college with the highest GPA.

Dallas, Texas · Arts and Sciences

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.
The last twenty years have gone by at a frenetic pace. I'm grateful to God for granting me a life which is better than anything I deserve.

I've spent the years in the investment industry, returning to my native Texas to join a private firm after stints with hedge funds in London and Chicago. I spend most of my spare time with my amazing wife and our four awesome kids, ages 11, 10, 7 and 3— maybe there is a future Cornellian among them!

Giving back is important to me, so I serve on the board a few local nonprofits. And I love academia, which I get to support as executive-in-residence for a unit of the SMU business school, where I taught in the past as a faculty adjunct. The Big Red is forever in my veins—I'm the community service chairman for the Dallas Cornell Alumni Chapter.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

In my junior year of undergrad, I had the privilege of taking a finance class at the Johnson school, which was taught by Professor Kent Womack. It was a great introduction to the business world, but more importantly the beginning of an amazing dialogue with an amazing teacher. Professor Womack was my mentor through all the early years of my career—to the extent I have made good decisions, it is to his credit and not my own.

· What advice would you give to a student starting at Cornell this year?
Have a good time, but put the books first.

If you could change anything about your Cornell experience, what would it be?

Those Ithaca winters were tough on a boy from Texas—I sure could have used some global warming back then!

Monday, May 4, 2015

4. Susan Starnes

Oak Park, California · Engineering

Name at Cornell
Susan Minch

Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

My husband, 3-year-old daughter, and I recently moved from
Charlotte, NC to Southern California.  We are having fun exploring the West coast and soaking in the beautiful sunshine.  For work, I am leading the Services business for Guitar Center.  I don’t play the guitar, but it is a fun industry with great people.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?
One of the most influential classes for me was the Intro to Chemical Engineering.  It helped confirm for me what my major would be.  And, in taking the class, I found my study buddies that would share many hours with me over the course of the next 4 years.

    How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?
My time at Cornell really helped broaden my horizons.  Meeting so many great people from diverse backgrounds has influenced my perspective for the better.  Great classes like Art History (glad I took it pass / fail!), Philosophy, Business School Classes, and of course Wines were all fantastic learning experiences.

What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?

Being part of the sailing team was a great experience for me.  I got to travel with interesting people and compete in regattas.  I also found my love for being out on the water.  I knew I loved sailing when I didn't mind that it started snowing while we were practicing on Lake Cayuga.