By Sam Bertschmann
Eleven inches long, made of holly, and containing the tail feather of Fawkes the phoenix, Harry Potter’s wand has come to Union.
This prized artifact was loaned courtesy of Alan Horn ‘64, the Chief Operations Officer and President of Warner Brothers since 1999. This major motion picture studio brought J.K. Rowling’s enchanting novels about the boy wizard to the big screen. The movies have charmed audiences since ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ debuted in 2001 and became the most successful film franchise of all time in September 2007. Horn’s accomplishments in his position at Warner Bros., from which he will step down this spring, made him an ideal candidate for the Notables exhibit, designed to celebrate remarkable Union alumni.
Upon learning of his selection, Horn generously sent (via owl post, of course) one of Harry’s most treasured possessions to his alma mater. Kathy Quinn, executive assistant to President Ainlay, tells of her delight upon receiving this special parcel from London. She comments that this magical object remained “tightly secured in the library for most of the summer.” It currently resides in the library under a glass display case (shielded by an Imperturbable charm for extra protection).
Here, muggles can find the actual wand used by Daniel Radcliffe in the two upcoming ‘Potter’ flicks, a movie poster featuring Radcliffe alongside cast mates Rupert Grint and Emma Watson—Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively—and selected books from the series translated into different languages.
The Notables exhibit features two other exceptional individuals affiliated with Union College: Theodore W. Berger ‘72 and founding trustee Joseph Yates.
Berger worked to revolutionize the fields of neuroscience, bioengineering, and medicine by developing replacement parts for the brain. He is the director of the Center for Neural Engineering at the University of Southern California and credits Union for much of his triumph.
Yates, the first mayor of Schenectady, was the youngest member of the original board of trustees at Union. He also founded the Yates School in Yates Village.
Students are buzzing with excitement over this exhibit, especially with the impending release of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I,’ which premieres November 19th. “It is such an honor to have Harry Potter’s wand at our school!” says Clara Boesch ‘14. “I brag about it to all [of] my friends.”
‘Potter’ fans must hurry to see Harry’s trusty wand, for it will be sent back to England in February (and no, it is not a Portkey to Hogwarts).