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Senior Correspondent

In my senior year of undergraduate school at Cornell, I was approached by the school to see if I was interested in becoming a student assistant to a new professor. These jobs were usually reserved for graduate students but the school was short of graduate assistants and this professor had just been hired as head of the Economics Department. His name was Tom Hurd and he had been Director of the Budget under Tom Dewey who had been Governor of the State of New York. Professor Hurd was available and Cornell hired him. They didn’t have an unassigned graduate student available and my name came up. He interviewed me and hired me. It was a great job, and he was wonderful to work with.

There was a great perk to the job as it came with a small office in the Economics Building on campus. It was close to the library and a very private place to study. His class was on Fridays so the papers of the students in his class, which I graded, were not due until Thursday. Some of the graduate students working for other professors (from whom I was taking classes) had grades due earlier in the week. These graduate students were living and dying by their grades. We always had interesting conversations and cat and mouse games during the week when they were working on my grade, and they wanted to see where I was on theirs. It was one of my better semesters.

At that time, I was also on the Student Council. The State had recently lowered the hours of the library on campus and closed it on Sunday. This was a major issue with the students and the Student Council. They asked me if I would go to Albany, the State Capitol, and meet with the legislature or the budget committee to see if we could get this reversed. I told Professor Hurd that I was going and asked him if he had any advice on how I might best present this. I had only been able to get a day to be there and no guarantee that I would be called. He turned around and called someone in Albany and, suddenly, I had an appointment to appear before the Budget Committee at a prime time when there would be the maximum number of members present. Strangely, coincidentally, within two weeks and before I was set to appear, the committee reversed its decisions and the library remained open on the previous schedule.

I was a hero, but Professor Hurd had done it.

Later in the year, I was in his office. I had received the results of my law school admissions test (LSAT) on which fortunately I had scored well. He asked me where I wanted to go to law school and even though I had been advised how hard it was to get into Cornell Law School, in my naiveté I said “Here; Cornell”. He asked me if he could write a letter of recommendation and maybe call some people he knew for me. I was obviously ecstatic. Two weeks later I received a letter advising me that I had been accepted to Cornell Law School for the Fall class of 1958. I got sick and was in the hospital (another story) for thirty days in the spring. It was special that Professor Hurd came to visit me and assure me that everything was okay. When after a month of recovery I got out of the hospital, school was out for the summer. Professor Hurd had left, and I never saw or heard from him again.

He never asked for or took any credit for what he had done for me.

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