Lowell Frank

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Updates from the Alumni Association Chair

Lowell Frank

Happy spring!  We’ve long since emerged from the winter that forced Ithaca enthusiasts to direct would-be travelers to Florida (and crashed a site in the process), and I want to update everybody on the latest happenings in the Big Red Bandiverse.

The Advisory Council had its first meeting of the 2015-2016 term on Saturday, February 21.  As a reminder, you can find the membership of the Advisory Council – made up of the Alumni Association officers, student leadership,  and at-large members (as well as advisors and other folks) – here.

The issues discussed in the greatest depth were Pep Band travel expenses and guidelines, punch-list items for the Fischell Band Center (including both functional and aesthetic additions), and acute Marching Band capital needs.

The discussion about the Pep Band was long overdue.  Historically, the Pep Band has never been skipped a postseason trip that the students have wanted to take.  In some years, this has lead to great costs, and in other years… less so (if you pay attention at all to the Band budget, the silver lining of any athletic heartbreak is the bottom line).  Things tended to balance out over the years.  Over the last decade, however, the number of NCAA hockey appearances (and tournament games out west – thank you, selection committee), the rise of women’s ice hockey in both stature and popularity, and a consistently strong lacrosse team have created financial challenges.  A rolling playoff reserve system based on historical data was implemented about 12 years ago, but has never allocated enough funding over its life, resulting in excess expenses.  There is also the issue of student well-being, although admittedly, how onerous the repeated travel is depends on who you ask.  There was a lot of good discussion, and we reached consensus on our recommendations for regular-season pep band travel as follows:

  • The Pep Band will return to staying with the host band for at least some of their hockey trips (pending risk management approval)
  • Given the popularity of the fall Thanksgiving game at Madison Square Garden, we will explore options for paid performances
  • The Pep Band will take four non-playoff trips each year: Harvard/Dartmouth, MSG, and two others based at the discretion of the students

Additionally, we will start a dialogue with the various team coaches about the pressures on the Pep Band to explore other funding options at playoff time.  We hope that team friends and parents would consider offsetting the expenses to allow for uninterrupted support during the various post-seasons.  Our goal is to both reduce costs and increase revenue as well as provide a guideline and expectation for the Pep Band from year to year.  Ironically, the main cause of the issue – the unprecedented success of Cornell’s sports teams – wasn’t apparent this spring.  Cue sad trombone.

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