Ithaca, N.Y. — This weekend, Cornell University is celebrating “Charter Day Weekend” — a celebration of the 150th anniversary of its founding.

The festivities included dancing, music, history, speeches from worldwide experts and much, much more.

Here are 10 of the highlights from the festivities, more or less in chronological order:

1 — Myrick, Skorton celebrate Cornell-Ithaca ties

President David Skorton and Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick held a ceremony in downtown Ithaca to celebrate the ties between Cornell and the city.

“Ithaca’s Roots in Cornell’s Founding” included the unveiling of a plaque which can be seen below courtesy of Cornell.

“Myrick and Skorton dedicated a planter bed and plaque to commemorate the university’s 150th anniversary,” according to the university.

2 — Cornell geniuses on university’s role in space exploration

Two superstars of astronomy, Cornell alumnus Bill Nye and Cornell professor Steve Squyres spoke on Friday night about the importance of the university in space exploration.

Watch the full video here: http://www.cornell.edu/video/cornell-joy-of-discovery-any-person-any-planet

Their speeches are smart, funny, surprising — and all so very Cornell.

“So, my fellow Cornellians, I just want to remind you that this is part of your legacy. … [explorers are] going to make mistakes; accidents are going to happen – but they’re going to explore just to learn more about the cosmos and our place within it,” Nye said, according to Cornell.

My favorite line, though, came from Squyres: “This is Mars … or, as I like to call it, the Big Red planet.”

3 — Big Red Birthday Bash

Also Friday night was the “Big Red Birthday Bash,” in which thousands of Cornellians celebrated the university

Cornell said more than 4,200 people from the Cornell and Ithaca communities attended the 2.5 hour party.

Among the 350 performers at the party, according to the university: the Phenomenon Step Team, Cornell Bhangra and Sabor Latino Dance Ensemble; a cappella groups the Class Notes, the Chordials and Key Elements; Yamatai, Cornell’s Taiko drumming group, and Paul Merrill’s Jazz Group.

Check out the Ithaca Voice’s photo gallery from the event here: ithacavoice.com/2015/04/27-photos-launch-party-cornell-birthday-festivities/

4 — Skorton, Myrick sing ‘We Are Family’

At the aforementioned “Big Red Birthday Bash,” President Skorton and Mayor Myrick danced and sang to “We Are Family,” the Sister Sledge tune.

Luckily, someone on Instagram captured a video (below) — in which it looks like Myrick is being significantly out-danced by the Cornell president.

We Are Family! @svantemyrick & Pres Skorton @cornelluniversity #ithaca #Cornell150

A video posted by @myndwalk on

Wrote Daily Sun Editor-in-Chief Tyler Alicea on Twitter: “Svante Myrick and @Cornell President David Skorton just danced to ‘We Are Family.’ It was beautiful. #Cornell150.”

5 — Lion dancing on Ho Plaza

Cornell’s Facebook page posted the following photos of the Cornell Lion Dancing club on Ho Plaza:

6 — Presidential panel

It was an extraordinary group: former Cornell presidents Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77, Hunter R. Rawlings III and Frank H.T. Rhodes; current president David J. Skorton; incoming Cornell president Elizabeth Garrett; and Harvard president Drew Faust.

A few highlights from their talks: 

—Former president Rawlings: “I don’t think Cornell has been at its best in determining the large curriculum” in the College of Arts & Sciences.

— On the growing globalization of universities, Lehman says: “You will see more and more institutions deciding that it makes sense to have a particular discipline … in another place. But that tends to have relatively little impact on the home institution.”

— Skorton on Beth Garrett: “She’s going to be a fabulous leader for Cornell and a fabulous leader for the country … you’ve honed very good and important instincts; you have good academic taste, good judgement.”

— Rawlings, joking, on advice to Garrett: “Don’t listen to the trustees.”

Watch the full thing here: http://www.cornell.edu/video/future-of-higher-education-presidential-panel

7 — Cornell Daily Sun’s coverage

The Cornell Daily Sun has a series of excellent stories on the sesquicentennial celebration, and even launched a website to cover the events.

Check it out here: 150.cornellsun.com

8 — Magical rendition of alma mater

At Bailey Hall, the Cornell Symphony Orchestra, the Cornell Chorus and the Cornell Glee Club got together to perform a concert for the sesquicentennial.

“My Cornell: A Celebration of Words” included multiple songs, including what one Cornell band member called an “absolutely magical rendition” of Cornell’s alma mater.

President David Skorton even got in on the fun, joining in with his flute on the “Evening Song.”

Watch it here: http://livestream.com/CornellCast/events/3957240/videos/85124406

9 — A student protest

A group of Cornell students held a protest Sunday outside of Bailey Hall as the university held an event inside. No arrests were reported.

Zoe Ferguson with the Cornell Sun said of the protest:

Approximately 60 students gathered on Bailey Plaza Sunday afternoon to declare the creation of the Cornell Independent Students’ Union, a student organization separate from the University. Student activists formed CISU as an outlet to air their grievances about the administration and collaborate to protest fees.

10 — Happening today, Monday, at 10 a.m.: Charter Day Ceremony

Today is the formal “ceremony” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Cornell’s Charter.

Check it out here: http://www.cornell.edu/video/sesquicentennial-charter-day-ceremony/rsvp


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.