Bringing Forward the Possibility of Cornell
For Edwin “Ed” Baum ’81 and his wife, Holly Wallace, Cornell is a family tradition – one with deeper roots than they knew.
Both of Ed’s siblings, Howard Baum (CALS ’79) and Ellen B. Rabinowitz (CHE ’85), also graduated from Cornell. So, too, did Ed and Holly’s daughter, Claire Wallace Baum (ILR ’16), sister-in-law, Ellen Z. Baum (A&S ’80), and nephew, Eric Baum (A&S ’15).
“When my siblings and I attended Cornell’s statutory colleges, state support was significantly greater than it was by the time Claire attended,” Ed said. “We realized there was a tremendous need to make available to today’s students the benefits my family enjoyed a generation earlier.”
Ed is a partner at Perkins Coie and Holly is managing director and senior financial adviser at Merrill Lynch.
To honor the Baum family’s Cornell connection, Ed and Holly created the Baum-Wallace Family Scholarship in 2014.
The scholarship is awarded to students active in the New York Metro chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, whose advisory board Holly chairs. Priority is given to students enrolling in ILR, but the scholarship can be used elsewhere at Cornell if no network student is admitted to ILR in a given year.
The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship teaches startup business skills to ignite the entrepreneurial mindset in students from under-resourced communities. Students create their own business plans and businesses, and present, defend and compete for funding much like competitors on the “Shark Tank” reality TV series.
Ed and Holly, along with their daughter and nephew, accompany some 40 network students on summer field trips to campus.
“For most of these students, it’s their first university experience,” Ed said. “We’ve brought the possibility of Cornell, and what a university like Cornell can offer, to the forefront of their minds and made it a potential reality.”
“On the flip side, we’ve brought Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to the attention of the ILR School and established a partnership that is paying enormous dividends for the students.”
For Nicole Oliveira (A&S ’20), the scholarship “made attending Cornell something I could seriously consider.” And, it allowed her to explore “interests I either did not know about or could not afford prior to coming to college,” she said. “It has been continuously reassuring to know someone cares about my educational progress, and to put a face to the generous help I am receiving.”
Turns out, Ed’s family wasn’t the only one with ties to Cornell.
Two years ago, while cleaning out her late mother’s home, Holly discovered that two of her ancestors were Cornell alumni: Samuel Colver Gist Sr., Class of 1876, and his son, Samuel Colver Gist Jr., Class of 1920, who ran in the Southern California Republican congressional primaries of 1945, losing to Richard Nixon.
“We were motivated to create the scholarship by my family’s connection to Cornell,” Ed said. “Then, we discovered that Holly’s family goes back to one of the university’s earliest classes. For us, that brought things full circle.”
“It was meant to be,” said Holly