[APPLAUSE] HUNTER RAWLINGS: It's a great day to be in Ithaca, New York.
Thank you for joining us for this momentous occasion that we've been looking forward to for quite a while now. I in particular have to say that it's a remarkable day for Cornell. It's a remarkable day for the College of Business and for the Johnson family. We could not be happier.
So whether you're watching here in the auditorium or on live-stream, I hope you enjoy every minute of it. We owe this momentous event to Fisk Johnson and his family, as well as to the SC Johnson Company, who are partnering to provide this remarkable donation. The Johnsons are, quite simply, one of the very great families of Cornell.
I also want to acknowledge members of the Lewis family, who accompanied Fisk to Cornell today. The Lewises are shareholders of SC Johnson, and like Fisk, they are descendants of the company's founder, Samuel Curtis Johnson. We're very happy to have you here as well. Would you all please stand and be recognized?
I also want to take a moment to think Harold Tanner, a great, great Cornellian. Former Chairman of our Board, Harold could not be here today, but he had a lot to do with this decision. He has had a long history with the Johnson family. He was an advisor to Sam Johnson for many decades. Harold, I hope you're watching on live-stream. How about a big Cornell cheer for Harold Tanner?
There's no name we could be more privileged to associate and link with Cornell's College of Business than the Johnsons. Fisk is the Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. He's a man of principle and he's a man of great intellectual curiosity, with a passion for science and a commitment to corporate social responsibility.
It's been a pleasure for me over the past months to talk with him and explore his ideas of how business education fits into great research university. But if it were truly up to Fisk, I suspect he would be studying physics right now in preparation for his sixth Cornell degree.
And he would figure out a way to apply what he learns in physics to his company, to his family, and to us here at Cornell. He has made Johnson a model of best practices in general, and particularly in sustainability.
He has also given valuable service to Cornell over many years as a trustee and member of the Johnson School Advisory Council. He also served as the 2009 Hatfield Fellow in Economic Education. And our students and faculty packed the auditorium for that talk as well.
Fisk has made it very clear a number of times to me that this gift is not about him personally. It is about Cornell. It is about business at Cornell as well as the Johnson family legacy. He upholds his family's tradition as a matter of principle.
So the new name of the college does not include Fisk, SC, or the initials of his father, his great-grandfather, and the company itself. This is the largest single gift to the Ithaca campus of Cornell, and it is fitting that it is coming from the Johnson family.
It demonstrates tremendous confidence in the capabilities of the new College of Business, uniting three superb and distinctive schools-- the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management-- let's hear it from the Dyson School--
--the School of Hotel Administration--
--and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.
What Fisk has done is to say very clearly that the College of Business, by uniting these three schools, is going to be better than ever and that each of these three schools will maintain its distinctive identity. The motivation for his gift, in fact, is to help develop synergies among the three schools.
Wisely, he has chosen to direct the first $50 million of his gift towards a challenge to inspire others, to give to the college's endowment a strategy that the great philanthropist Chuck Feeney, class of '56, has used to great effect to transform Cornell.
Just as Chuck's past gifts leverage support from others, so does Fisk's challenge to us today. I'm delighted to say that several alumni have already expressed strong interest in rising to the challenge. And the first one I would like to cite is John Dyson, whose family named the Dyson School in honor of John's father.
John has endorsed the new college name with great enthusiasm, and I quote, "This is the right gift at the right time from the right family." John plans to name a new professorship in honor of his brother, Peter, who just recently passed away and was a wonderful friend of Cornell in his own right. So I think we should applaud the Dyson family.
The other $100 million of this gift is for endowment because Fisk believes in the long term, the permanent. And that's what this is-- a permanent endowment for the College of Business. These funds will allow us to recruit and retain faculty in Ithaca in New York City as our programs move to the city as well. This will increase competitiveness for top students through expanded scholarship resources and develop new interdisciplinary research initiatives.
One way this endowment will benefit our students is by creating the SC Johnson Scholars Program, which will allow a cohort of students in the Dyson and Hotel Schools to receive need-based scholarship support as well as to pursue opportunities that enhance their coursework and receive active and ongoing mentoring from SC Johnson executives. This is a tremendous opportunity for our students and something that I think enriches this gift no end.
It's a new day for the study of business at this university. The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business will be a powerhouse in business education. And with the opening next fall of the Roosevelt Island campus of Cornell Tech, the college will have a foothold in New York City. In Ithaca and in New York, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business will attract the finest students and faculty from across the country. To Fisk and all of the Johnson family, our deepest, deepest gratitude. Thank you very much indeed.
I think Fisk gets to say a few words.
FISK JOHNSON: Thank you. Thank you very much for an incredibly warm welcome. I am so glad to see all the enthusiasm in this room. It is such a great day for Cornell.
First and foremost, I want to just thank Hunter not only for the generous words about my family, even though I emphasized a few times this is not about me or my family. This is about this great university and taking an important step today towards enhancing and strengthening three truly world-class schools.
I also want to thank Hunter for his leadership over the past year. This has been a crucial time for the university. And Hunter truly stepped up, as always. And all of us are very grateful for that.
And similarly, I want to say the same to all the deans from the College of Business. This is an exciting new chapter in the future of the three schools. And all of us are very grateful for your leadership as well.
Now, if you'll bear with me for a moment, I just want to recognize a few people in the room. First and foremost, I want to recognize my family in the front row here. They are the SC Johnson family members that are also an important part of this gift at Cornell. Cliff and [INAUDIBLE] and Daniel and Ollie and Melissa and Hank and Diane, I really appreciate the fact that you're here. And hopefully Jack is here somewhere, too-- class of 2020, a fifth-generation Cornellian.
I also have three other family members who are here today, George and Rita Lochhead and their daughter, Sage, who is also class of 2020. Thank you for coming as well.
I also have a whole slate of fraternity brothers here today.
Let's hear it from all the Chi Psis in the room.
My fraternity experience here was truly life-changing for me. And I particularly want to thank a number of my classmates that are here-- Rich Kauffeld, Tom Gross, Pat McGarvey, Jim [INAUDIBLE], as well, who-- and Brian Simmons-- who all made my Cornell experience so great here, so great, in fact, I was a little amazed that somehow I still managed to graduate through all of that. But I thank you guys for coming and thank you for your incredible friendship over the years.
I also know there are a few past teachers of mine in the room-- Jim Maas, Bob [INAUDIBLE], Joe Thomas. I see Bob Swieringa out there. All of those folks and a few others helped make my academic experience here at Cornell so worthwhile. And I thank you all for coming.
Then there is Pete. I think I ate 14 or 15 meals a week at Pete's restaurant, the Souvlaki House. And I want to thank Pete for his incredible friendship over the years. Let's hear it for Pete and the Souvlaki House.
Stand up, Pete.
I highly recommend the large Greek salad with extra feta.
And then finally, I want to thank the entire SC Johnson team, who's here today, for coming, and also, importantly, Frank Rhodes and Jack [INAUDIBLE] and many other good friends of my family who are here today. Thank you all so much for joining us here today. Thank you.
I want to now just say a few quick words about why we made this gift. When the combined college was announced, it was clear to me that the schools were at a little bit of a crossroads, especially considering some of the controversy and surprise surrounding that decision. But with the potential benefits that could come from capitalizing on the scale of the three schools, along with the new Tech campus in New York City getting started, I really believed that the business program here had a huge opportunity in front of it and that there couldn't be a better time to make this gift to get this new vision for Cornell Business and the three schools off to a really strong start.
And not only did I think this was a great moment for a gift, but maybe even more importantly, this seemed like a wonderful opportunity to do something for Cornell as all of us in my family continue to be incredibly grateful to this university for the experiences that we've had spanning now four generations going on five. And that especially goes for me.
It was my grandfather who first came to Cornell. This was at a time that our family business actually made only wax products, furniture and floor polishes. And when my grandfather was finishing high school, and this was back in 1917, our company first tried to branch out into non-wax products by making an anti-freeze for the Ford Model T automobile. The product actually worked just fine because it was mainly salt.
The only downside was that all that salt rusted out every radiator it touched.
And we ended up buying 500 Model T radiators that year. And that was actually when my grandfather was hurried off to Cornell to get a chemistry degree.
And he was our company's very first chemist. Now, my grandfather met my grandmother here. She was the daughter of a professor. And then a generation later, my father met my mother here. And I think my mom is probably the most enthusiastic Cornell alum in the family. She just turned 86. And every year, she still disappears on road trips with all her sorority sisters.
From a personal standpoint, I have to confess that I almost didn't come to Cornell. When I was applying to college, the last thing that I was going to do was go to the same college that my parents went to. And my dad always swore that the only reason I ended up coming to Cornell was that he insisted that I don't come to Cornell.
I don't know if that's actually true or not. But I know he liked the idea, thinking that he played me.
But clearly, something drew me here. And it was absolutely the best decision that I ever made in my life. It was a bit like that with fraternities as well. My grandfather and father were both Chi Psis. And the last thing that I was going to do was join a fraternity, let along the same one that my father had joined.
But by pure chance, as I was going on a fraternity tour, the last stop turned out to be Chi Psi. And honestly, I almost didn't go in. But something, once again, drew me to the place. And it was one of the most fortunate breaks for me because it was also one of the best decisions that I made and a truly life-changing experience for me.
Of course, my academic experience was no different. I obviously loved it here. My father was actually very supportive of me staying on for graduate school, at least in the very beginning.
But after about my seventh or eighth year here, I could tell my dad started getting concerned because he started telling me that it was time that I left and that I should become a producer of things instead of a consumer of things.
I tried to tell him I was producing all this great scientific knowledge, but he never quite bought into that argument. But after the 10th year rolled around of me being, I could tell he was really starting to panic. He once told a large public audience that I was living proof someone could go through 10 years of fraternity parties and survive.
And I think there is probably some truth to that. Now, Frank Rhodes probably doesn't remember this, but when I was getting my last degree at Cornell, that day finally arrived. We had been through the graduation ceremony and we had all come back to the Statler. And we were all standing around. And Frank came up to me. And just as my dad was coming within earshot of us, Frank said, Fisk, if you stick around, I'll give you a good deal on a law degree.
I can still see that look of panic in my dad's face.
In any event, that it is all to say in just a few short words that my many years at Cornell were one of the most rewarding and enriching periods of my life. It changed me in a lasting way. It left me richer in knowledge, sharper in mind, stronger in character, and believing in life's possibilities. And I will be forever grateful to this university for that.
And it's that gratitude that I feel to Cornell and the gratitude that my family feels toward Cornell-- is why we are here today doing what we are doing. And it is our hope that this gift with its matching grant will help us all realize our collective aspiration to strengthen the outstanding reputations of these three great schools and have the business program at Cornell rise even higher into the echelon of top-tier schools in the world.
And today, I hope, marks a new chapter in Cornell history. And my family is so proud and happy to be a part of it. Thank you so much. Thank you.
SOUMITRA DUTTA: Thank you, Fisk, for your comments and for being here today to celebrate your and SC Johnson's historic gift to Cornell. Today is truly the day when the future for biz education at Cornell is transformed.
As dean, I am privileged and humbled both thank Fisk and SC Johnson Company on behalf of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, the School of Hotel Administration, and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management for this generous gift.
In higher education, significant naming gifts, especially ones of this magnitude that we have received, are game-changers. They have the power to transform broadly and deeply all aspects of an institution by allowing us to consider in expansive terms what might be possible.
How can we strengthen our teaching, research, and outreach programs? How can we better support the good work of a faculty and students and attract and retain top talent going forward? And how can we amplify our impact on the local, national, and global stages?
Gifts such as the one we have received are quite simply a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only because of the financial support they provide, but also because of the confidence they convey an institution's vision. The power of this confidence, the message it sends to those within and outside the campus community, cannot be underestimated. It strengthens everything we do and engenders a sense of pride that inspires us to do even better.
We at Cornell and at the new Cornell SC Johnson College of Business are especially fortunate. Fisk Johnson commands great respect in the world of business, respect he has earned through his able leadership of his family's company. And for five generations, his family's global company has led the way in developing progressive corporate policies.
SC Johnson is known for its commitment to its staff, the communities in which it operates, and the well-being of the planet. In both of these ways, the individual and the corporate, the Johnson name, adds to our college's distinction.
This is a pivotal moment for business at Cornell in each of the college's three schools. In Dyson, which is also part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, our strengths in agriculture, nutrition, and sustainability-focused research are absolutely unmatched. In Hotel, the top-ranked school of its kind in the world, we have extraordinary programs focused on the hospitality industry and real estate as well as on entrepreneurship. And at Johnson, our reputation as a leader in graduate biz education only continues to grow with world-class faculty strengths in finance, accounting, and marketing.
I would like to recognize my colleague deans-- Katherine Boor, Dean of CALS, who could not be here today with us; Ed McLaughlin, Interim Dean of Dyson; Kate Walsh, Interim Dean of the Hotel School; and Mark Nelson, Dean of the Johnson School-- for their leadership and friendship. Please to stand up and be recognized.
I would also like to acknowledge the leadership of Joe Thomas and Bob Swieringa, Dean Emeriti for Johnson, and many others who are watching online. Thank you for building these great schools which are now part of the SC Johnson college. Thank you.
The SC Johnson College of Business will allow us to build on the links across the three schools. For example, the college will be the world leader in the business of food by combining the expertise in food and beverage within the Hotel School and in food production and nutrition, the Dyson School. The SC Johnson college looks forward to a bright future with its goal to increase activities in New York City as part of the Cornell Tech campus.
We're in the third year of Johnson Cornell Tech MBA, with 53 students studying at the Google office of the Cornell Tech side-by-side with computer scientists and engineers. This revolutionary program is creating business leaders with a deep knowledge of technology and an understanding of how the digital revolution will create new companies and transform existing ones.
We hope that other schools in the SC Johnson college, such as the Hotel School, will also soon be able to extend the programs and activities to New York City. Cornell Tech's move to Roosevelt Island next summer will allow us to grow the program in our collaborations with Cornell's broad research environment while expanding our networks and visibility in the world's most global city. At the same time, the new Breazzano Family Center in Collegetown, also slated to open this summer, will make it easier for students in Johnson, as well as Dyson and Hotel, to connect with Cornell Tech and participate in activities there.
Fisk's desire to strengthen both the undergraduate and the graduate experience through this new gift is underscored by his decision to create the Johnson Scholars Program and to fund a challenge match that'll benefit all three schools. The Johnson Scholars Program will help ensure our students in Dyson and Hotel have the financial-- the support they need while also creating opportunities for them and for Cornell to learn and benefit from SC Johnson's leading-edge work and corporate philosophy.
And the $50 million challenge grant will allow us to leverage another $150 million philanthropy from other donors for endowed professorships, fellowships, scholarships, and more. When fully achieved, the challenge will bring the total impact of Fisk's and SC Johnson gift to $300 million, helping to create a sustaining endowment that elevates the college's standing, performance, and influence of generations to come.
I'm also excited by the ways Fisk's and SC Johnson's support allow us to innovate on behalf of our alumni. Even as we grow and strengthen our programs in Ithaca and New York and internationally, we have a responsibility to make sure our graduates benefit from the Cornell education beyond their time on the Hill.
This especially important biz education-- increasingly, our alumni are looking to us for opportunities to engage and grow professionally through e-learning and other technology-based initiatives. It is this kind of forward-thinking work supported by a strong and permanent foundation of national support that'll make the historic gift we've received ripple out in the future in ways they can only imagine today.
Again, I want to thank Fisk and SC Johnson for a transformational investment that ushers in a new era of opportunities. I also like to thank all faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Johnson, Dyson, and the Hotel School for helping build a great SC Johnson College community. And of course, I'd like to thank my wife, Lourdes Casanova, for her love and support.
It is an honor to serve as the founding dean of the Cornell SC Johnson College. Thank you for this privilege and honor. Thank you.
And now at this moment, I will turn the program back to Hunter.
HUNTER RAWLINGS: So there's a rumor that Fisk likes fleeces.
And I think the rumor is true. So Fisk, if you could step up here, we have a new fleece for you with the right title.
FISK JOHNSON: All right. Thank you.
HUNTER RAWLINGS: In the history of research universities in the United States, there's a small handful of university presidents who stand out. Frank Rhodes is in that small handful of truly great research university presidents.
He is here today because he is a long-time friend of the Johnson family, especially close friend of Sam Johnson, Fisk's father, and I can't tell you, Frank, how much it means to us to have you come back to Ithaca on this occasion and tell us your view of the history of the Johnson family. Thank you, Frank.
FRANK RHODES: Thank you, Hunter, very much. It's an enormous privilege to meet with this great gathering to salute the Johnson family. Rosa and I have had the privilege of for four decades now, beginning with Sam, class of 1950, and Gene, class of '52, and including Fisk and Curt and Helen and Winnie, Cornellians all, and we treasure those connections. They're wonderfully important.
But we know all of them not only as exemplary Cornellians, but also as warm and caring human beings. And you've seen something and heard something of that today as Fisk has talked with you.
In retrospect, it seems almost natural that Cornell and the Johnson family would become so closely intertwined. Ezra Cornell and SC Johnson, Fisk's great-great-grandfather, were both 19th-century inventors and entrepreneurs. Both believed in the value of education. Both created lasting and exemplary institutions to continue to bear their names.
In fact, when the Cornell Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Business in 1984, it did so not only to express Cornell's deep gratitude to the Johnson family, which Sam and Gene were so instrumental in formulating, but to acknowledge the commitment to humane management and uncompromising quality that the Johnson name came to signify in the business world.
That gift, that single gift, tripled the Business School, the Johnson School's, endowment for faculty, students, and programs. And it inspired millions of gifts from other donors. And as Hunter mentioned, the Johnson family involvement in Cornell goes back to Herbert F. Johnson, Jr., Class of 1922.
It was remarkable that in addition to leading the family business, Herbert Fisk Johnson also found time to serve Cornell as a trustee, as a trustee emeritus, and as a presidential counselor. Like Fisk, he had a deep appreciation of science, as the professorship in industrial chemistry that bears his name attests.
But he was also, as you heard, an enthusiastic patron of the arts, having married the daughter of Olaf Brauner, the noted painter, and the founding chairman of Cornell's Department of Art. And so the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art is a testament to the generosity of Fisk's grandfather, which embraced both science and art.
Fisk's father, Sam, inherited his family's sense of social responsibility. And he found the perfect partner in Imogene Powers Johnson. Sam was a long-serving member of the Board of Trustees, a Trustee Emeritus, and a Presidential Counselor, Rosa and I were with Sam and Gene on countless Cornell occasions, ranging from the prairie school where Gene served so ably as the founding chair, we visited and stayed at their summer place at Lake Owen to plan for the future of the Lab of Ornithology, to which Gene has been such an effective champion, and to listen to her beloved loons in that spot.
Sam shared Gene's interest in the environment. As head of the family business, he made SC Johnson a model for entrepreneurial responsibility and environmental care. And his later gifts to the Johnson School helped to make Cornell a world-class leader in the study of global sustainability.
The Johnson legacy is about corporate responsibility and personal generosity, but it's also about family. Some of you may have seen the wonderful movie Carnauba-- A Son's Memoir, which chronicles a trip in 1998 by Sam and Curt and Fisk, all of them accomplished pilots, that retraced the journey to Brazil that Sam's father had undertaken in 1935 to study the carnauba palm, at that time an important ingredient in Johnson products.
Sam's father had given him a slim book about the carnauba expedition when he was eight years old and he inscribed it with these words-- "To Sammy, I hope you make this trip someday. It changed my life."
And so Sam and Curt and Fisk flew to Brazil in a replica of the Sikorsky S-38, an amphibious plane that Sam's father had used, cruising at 100 miles an hour for five hours a day. And a month later, they arrived in Brazil, where the company still had a palm plantation and ran a primary school and a research lab. Gene and Helen and Winnie were there to welcome them and to dedicate a nature reserve in memory of HF Johnson, who had made the trip 63 years earlier.
The leadership of SC Johnson is now in Fisk's capable hands, carrying the family legacy of enlightened corporate and personal responsibility into the fifth generation. Like his father and grandfather, Fisk has served on the Cornell Board of Trustees and is now a Trustee Emeritus. All three were proud members of Chi Psi. And it's good to know that the brothers are here in force this morning.
As a Hatfield Fellow in 2009, Fisk filled this auditorium to talk about the crisis of consumerism and the dangers it posed to our frail planet. Now with this transformative gift, Fisk and SC Johnson have taken the long history of the family's dedication to Cornell to a new level.
Maurice Bishop once declared, "Giant towers rest on a foundation of visionary purpose." Fisk, our deepest thanks to you and your family and your company for providing a foundation of visionary purpose through the generosity and commitment that you have made to Cornell's SC Johnson College of Business. Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: 1, 2, 3, 4--
[MUSIC - "FAR ABOVE CAYUGA'S WATERS"] [SINGING] Far above Cayuga's waters, with its waves of blue, stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus, speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater. Hail, all hail, Cornell.
Far above the busy humming of the bustling town. Reared against the arch of heaven, looks she proudly down. Lift the chorus, speed it onward. Loud her praises tell. Hail to thee, our Alma Mater. Hail, all hail, Cornell.
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The Cornell community gathered to celebrate the historic gift and the naming of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business Jan. 31, 2017 in Alice Statler Auditorium at Statler Hall. SC Johnson Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson, Interim President Hunter Rawlings, Dean Soumitra Dutta, and President Emeritus Frank H.T. Rhodes gave remarks.