Aug. 30, 1927 Leonard W. Kephart, Class of 1913, is the first American to scale Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. He was in Africa on a search for new grasses for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kephart took four days to reach the peak, slogging through snow-covered gravel the last day. The climb was not entirely without scientific reward, reported the Cornell Alumni News (Nov. 10, 1927). Kephart discovered three new varieties of clover on the expedition.
Aug. 31, 1956 Tsai Ing-wen, LL.M. ‘80, is born in Taiwan. She is the first woman in Taiwan to run for president; the election will be held in early 2012. A moderate who favors conditional economic engagement with China, she has chaired Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party since 2008 and served as Taiwan’s vice premier 2006-07. She also worked closely with Cornellian Lee Teng-hui, Ph.D. ‘68, during his tenure as president of Taiwan (1988-2000).
Sept. 1, 1854 Anna Botsford Comstock, Class of 1885, Cornell’s first female assistant professor, is born. The namesake (with her husband) of Comstock Hall, she earned acclaim for her insect illustrations and was a leader of the nature study movement, which advocated taking students outdoors to study nature. Comstock was one of the first four women admitted to Sigma Xi, a national honor society for the sciences, and is in the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Hall of Fame.