Every fall, we reach out to the Cornell community to spotlight giving opportunities that directly benefit Cornell students. The 8th annual Cornell Crowdfunding campaign officially kicked off on October 12, and will include a total of 16 student-driven projects and one special scholarship challenge.
From now through December 5, these crowdfunding projects have the chance to reach out directly to you—their Cornell family—to share more details about their projects, explain how your gifts make all the difference, and expand their pool of supporters. Since 2013, thousands of Cornellians have stepped up to raise more than $2.1 million in donations for their favorite projects.
This year, we are pleased to include a special scholarship challenge offered by Malcolm Kram DVM ’74. In 2005, Kram and his husband, Mark Zwanger MD, established the Anna and Hyman Greenberg Scholarship in the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). The couple also established a similar scholarship at Zwanger’s alma mater, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.
The scholarship supports diversity at CVM and is Cornell’s only scholarship for LGBTQ+ students. Over the past 15 years, several other donors have contributed to the fund, which offers financial support for veterinary studies at Cornell—with preference given to LBGTQ+ students.
Kram believes that inclusion of LGBTQ+ students is a significant part of diversity efforts at the university, and he has offered a $10,000 match as part of the 2020 crowdfunding campaign—to inspire more donations to the scholarship.
Photo highlights of some of the 2020 crowdfunding projects:
A little kindness goes a long way
Kram recalls that, initially, administrators at CVM were skeptical that students would apply. But, “the first year it was offered, there were applicants, and year after year this scholarship has been awarded,” Kram says proudly. “To my knowledge Cornell Vet is still the only veterinary college in the U.S. that offers this specific type of targeted financial support.”
Kram recalls that when he was a student, “there was significant homophobia throughout the veterinary profession.” Kram received meaningful support from former CVM Dean Donald F. Smith and Alison Smith, director of development at CVM, which later inspired him to found the scholarship. “It took close to a year to actually formalize the scholarship, in part because Cornell was uncertain that anyone would apply as this would ‘out’ them at a time of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Kram recounts.
Kram has been moved by the gratitude of the scholarship recipients over the years, each of whom he has met. “What has been most rewarding to both my spouse, Mark Zwanger, and myself, are their consistent words of thanks and their heart-wrenching stories of need,” Kram says. “It is our hope that Cornell will continue to lead in support of diversity and the LGBTQ community,” he adds.
The 2020 scholarship recipient, Leo Ragazzo ’22, wrote Kram a “beautiful, handwritten” letter, sharing the challenges he has faced and expressing gratitude for the scholarship aid. “Leo’s maternal grandmother, Dolores, was one of his biggest encouragers and supporters, similar to my grandmother,” Kram says.
“At its core, the LGBTQ+ community is about sharing love,” Ragazzo says, “and Dr. Kram is exactly that, personified. The Anna and Hyman Greenberg Scholarship serves as a reminder of how a little kindness can go a long way.”
Gillian Lawrence DVM ’19, the 2019 recipient, spoke with Kram about the impact of the scholarship and about changes in the diversity landscape over the 45+ years since Kram graduated from the CVM.
“It’s been sort of difficult to cultivate an LGBT support community at the college,” Lawrence explains. “Veterinary students are a pretty transient community, so sometimes the needs of specific groups fall by the wayside,” she adds.
Watch this short video of Lawrence expressing her gratitude for her scholarship.
They were there to support me
Kram’s abiding affection for his maternal grandparents, Anna and Hyman Greenberg, continues to inspire him, both in his life and in his philanthropy. Kram named the scholarship he established in honor of these two very special people in his life.
Hyman Greenberg graduated from Columbia University with a degree in physics, but worked as a tailor and later as a real estate investor, when he was unable to find work in his field. He rose through the ranks to lead the Department of Real Estate for the City of New York.
In his youth, Kram’s family lived in an apartment building owned by his grandfather and spent holidays at his grandparents’ farm in Frenchtown, New Jersey. The farm was a place “where my grandparents could gather their entire family, including grandchildren,” Kram recalls. It was there that he got involved in 4-H, raising sheep, and became interested in veterinary science.
Kram’s favorite memory of his grandmother, Anna Alexander Greenberg, was at a Boy Scout award ceremony. “We started the event by singing of the National Anthem. Above and beyond the voices of all in attendance rang out this magnificent vocal rendition of the Anthem,” Kram recalls. “it was my ‘Nana’ singing.”
Kram’s grandmother was also a philanthropist and served as president of her chapter of the United Order of True Sisters. His grandparents supported both their children’s and grandchildren’s higher education costs, and they helped Kram secure the down payment to open his veterinary practice in Manhattan, The Animal Clinic of New York.
Photo highlights of some of the 2020 crowdfunding projects:
A model for diversity in all its forms
Kram’s scholarship helps to alleviate the financial challenges faced by veterinary students, which he describes as “significant.” But Kram believes that the fund also helps to promote a message of diversity and inclusion.
Kram says that the current national climate is especially challenging for members of the LBGTQ+ community. “Thanks to the recent pandemic, accompanied by the rise in nationalism and discrimination, homophobia is once again rearing its ugly head,” he says.
Kram hopes that Cornell and CVM can serve as leaders, by enhancing their outreach to minority communities, including the LGBTQ+ community. “The expansion of this scholarship will grow Cornell’s reputation as a university that truly supports and encourages diversity in all its forms,” Kram says. “It would be great to see other colleges and schools of veterinary medicine join Cornell in this arena,” he adds.