President Emeritus Rhodes Honors Berg '79 and Paget as Foremost Benefactors of Cornell
The recently renovated Uris Library terrace adjacent to McGraw Tower features a stone wall and benches inscribed with the names of individuals designated as Foremost Benefactors of Cornell University. On the afternoon of the 2009 commencement, a new inscription was celebrated, commemorating the contributions of ORIE alumnus Jeffrey F. Berg '79 and his wife Debra H. Paget to Cornell. Cornell President Emeritus Frank H. T. Rhodes presided over a ceremony honoring the couple in the Browsing Library of Willard Straight Hall. Berg is the first member of the class of 1979 to be recognized in this fashion.
|Frank H. T. Rhodes presents a statue of Ezra Cornell to Debra Paget and Jeff Berg.
(photo: S. Eyav)
President Rhodes presented Berg and Paget with a sculptural reduction of Herman Atkins MacNeil's statue of Ezra Cornell, the original of which stands on the Cornell arts quad. He toasted the couple for their enlightened leadership, their thoughtful generosity, and their unswerving commitment to the University. The statue symbolizes the continuity of giving, from Ezra Cornell, whose name appears at the beginning of the wall, to the present day, and permanently acknowledges the university's "gratitude to those benefactors whose support has equaled or exceeded the founding endowment of Ezra Cornell."
Berg has been a volunteer leader at Cornell since his student days (he coauthored the original ORIE Master of Engineering handbook). He is a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees, President of the Cornell Class of 1979, chair of the Solar Decathalon Advisory Team, and serves as a member of the Cornell's Major Gifts Committee and Chair of the Alumni Affairs & Development Committee of the Advisory Council of the Johnson School, Cornell's Graduate School of Management.
Mr. Berg and his wife Ms. Paget have established two endowment funds, one for Master of Engineering students with a passion for operations and one for the recruitment and retention of female engineers. They have named a lab in Duffield Hall as well as the Business Simulation Laboratory in the Johnson School, where they also provided start-up funds to help create the school's Business of Science and Technology Initiative. Berg has been a guest lecturer in ORIE and the Johnson School for the past 10 years, and the couple have supported programs from Athletics to Cornell Hillel, Cornell Plantations, Student and Academic Services and "many other programs and activities that contribute so much to the Cornell experience," according to Rhodes.
Berg went on from his ORIE B.S. to get an M.Eng. from ORIE and an M.B.A. from the Johnson School in 1980 and 1981, respectively. As an undergraduate, he was in the first class of Lester B. Knight Scholars in the College of Engineering. He remains enthusiastic about the M.Eng. / M.B.A. degree combination and has worked for many years to foster cooperation between ORIE and Johnson
|Lowell Berg, Samantha Berg, Debra Paget, Jeff Berg, and Blake Berg sit on the wall. Between them the inscription commemorating the couple's generosity to Cornell.
(photo: S. Eynav)
On the morning before the Foremost Benefactors ceremony, Berg and Paget attended the commencement of their daughter Samantha, who graduated from Cornell's Department of Design and Environmental Analysis where she concentrated on human factors and ergonomics. Their identical twin sons, Lowell and Blake, are studying business and sport management at Ohio University and engineering at Syracuse University, respectively.
Jeffrey Berg spent 23 years with PRTM Management Consultants, previously known as Pittiglio Rabin Todd & McGrath, before retiring as COO of PRTM's Atlantic region. At PRTM he was heavily involved with the implementation and effective use of operational systems for a variety of technology-based clients in a large array of business sectors. He has expertise in the manufacturing, materials, engineering, logistics, information systems and customer service operations functions. He spent more than three years starting and building PRTM's consulting practice in the United Kingdom and Europe, and has worked with consulting clients in the Far East and Canada. Prior to joining PRTM, he worked for the Distribution Department at Xerox Corporation, where he gained experience in multi-echelon inventory management and logistics systems. He also held positions with Exxon, Andersen Consulting and DuPont (where he was a Cornell co-op student).
Debra Paget retired last year from IBM, where in her last position she was responsible for IBM's hardware inventory on a global basis. A graduate of SUNY Albany, where she obtained her bachelors and MBA degrees, she began her career with Exxon and subsequently worked for Value Computing, Distribution Management Systems, Digital Equipment Corporation and Datalogix/Oracle in a variety of information technology and supply chain management roles.
The inscriptions on the Uris Library Terrace begin with the name of Ezra Cornell and include many familiar names around campus. Other ORIE alumni represented as Foremost Benefactors by inscriptions on the terrace include
- Henry E. Bartels '48 and Nancy Horton Bartels
- Samuel M. Seltzer '49
- Anthony Misciagna '49
- Jeffrey P. Parker '65 and Julie W. Parker
- Harvey Kinzelberg '67 and Linda Kinzelberg
- Joan Wolfers Belkin and R. Belkin '69
- James M. McCormick '69, M.Eng. '70 and Marsha D. McCormick
- Jay W. Carter '71, M. Eng. '72 and Juliann Reisner Carter
- Michael J. Zak '75 and Roxanne E. Zak
A booklet about the foremost benefactors, the statue and the terrace inscriptions concludes with the following thought about the inscriptions:
"Here, at this court of honor, generation after generation of students can pause for a moment to reflect on the debt they owe to those who have gone before as they pass each name carved in stone."