November 6, 2009
SUNY students bury time capsule
SUNY Cortland education students are reaching out to people who will be on campus in the future, burying a time capsule in a wall off the new Education Building’s entranceway.
The box is intended to be opened 25 years from now. It is filled with written messages from faculty, students and alumni, plus pieces of technology. It will be placed under the stairwell at the building’s entrance, marked by a plaque.
The ceremony Thursday was attended by about 30 people, mostly students. Several alumni and retired faculty attended as well.
The box is made of particle board left over from renovations going on at Cornish Hall, which is attached to the building. It has two levels, each holding a plastic bin filled with items.
College President Erik Bitterbaum, his predecessors James Clark and Judson Taylor, alumni and former faculty going back to the 1930s, and children who use the college’s new Child Care Center contributed messages about life in Cortland. Louise Conley, a College Foundation board member who is the granddaughter of Francis Cheney, sent her memories of him and some of his personal items. Cheney was principal of the Cortland Normal School, the college’s predecessor, from 1891 until 1912.
The three college presidents described their years on the campus, with changes and innovations they witnessed.
“This will tell people 25 years from now what Cortland was like,” said senior Cari Scoppa, Education Club secretary, who conceived of the time capsule project several months ago. She said people then could decide whether to bury the archive again.
Scoppa said the club chose 25 years for the capsule’s opening because the members would like be involved with the college as alumni, and to make sure the capsule was not forgotten.
Scoppa said she will be 46 and will come back to see the capsule opened.
Bitterbaum said he will be 81.
“We are honoring the past and imagining the future,” he said.
Bitterbaum recalled that his junior high school in Rego Park, Queens, entered an essay contest to have their writing placed in a time capsule at the 1964-65 World Fair in Flushing Meadows. His seventh-grade class wrote an essay as a group and was stunned when a panel that included artist Andrew Wyatt chose it.
The 23 students went with their principal and their teacher to the ceremony to bury the time capsule for 5,000 years. Bitterbaum said he met U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy.
Bitterbaum said that class project, and the inspiration of his teacher, changed the way he viewed history.
He said he hopes the current generation of education majors, who are becoming teachers, will similarly inspire students.
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