[BELL TOLLING] SPEAKER 1: Ladies and gentlemen, the inauguration procession has begun and will soon arrive on the Arts Quad for the installation ceremony.
[MUSIC - "THE BIG RED TEAM"]
CHOIR: (SINGING) Oh, I want to go back to the old days, those good old days on the hill, back to my Cornell, for that's where they all yell, Cornell-- I yell, Cornell. Cornell! Far above Cayuga's waters, I hear those tiny bells. Oh, I'm walking and turning and always returning to my old Cornell.
SPEAKER 1: Leading the procession is the University Marshall, Professor Charles Walcott. Leading each group in the procession are Cornell University faculty marshals. The first group entering are the delegates representing other universities, colleges, learned societies, and scientific and cultural institutions. They will enter the Arts Quad in order of their founding year.
Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Columbia, Dartmouth, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Williams College, Hamilton College, Union College, Hartwick College, State University of New York at Potsdam, University of Michigan, Center College, University of Virginia, Norwich University, Colgate University, Indiana University, Amherst College, Hobart and William Smith College.
Trinity College, State University of New York at Fredonia, University of Toronto, New York University, Oberlin College, Wheaton College, Massachusetts, the College at Rockport, Emory University, Alfred University, Mt. Holyoke College, Boston University, Fordham University.
University of Iowa, University of Rochester, Tufts University, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Florida, Elmira College, St. Lawrence University, Iowa State University, State University of New York at Oswego. Swarthmore College, University of Kansas, Carleton College, Roberts Wesleyan College, Wells College, Syracuse University. State University of New York at Geneseo.
Vanderbilt University, Smith College, Wellesley College, Emerson College, Modern Language Association of America, Houghton College, American Historical Association, Georgia Institute of Technology. North Caroline State University, Pamona College, State University of New York at Oneonta, Barnard College, Keuka College, University of Chicago, Stanford University, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Ithica College, University of Tulsa, Clarkson University, Northeastern University, Skidmore College, Connecticut College, Rice University, Linguistic Society of America, University of Miami. Sarah Lawrence College, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Sienna College, Iona College.
Hellene Fuld College of Nursing, Binghamton University, Monroe Community College, Finger Lakes Community College, State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, Tompkins Portland Community College, State University of New York, Empire State College, California Institute of Technology.
Following the delegates are the assemblies of Cornell University. The procession includes members of the student assembly, graduate and professional student assembly, employee assembly, and university assembly. The assemblies are followed by Captain Molly Heath from the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps, or ROTC; Lieutenant Colonel David Barber from the Army ROTC; and Navy ROTC Captain, Eric Diehl.
Now entering are members of the Cornell University faculty, academic professionals, and university librarians. They are being led by university faculty committee member and professor of history Durba Ghosh.
Now entering the Arts Quad, the university leadership of college deans and administrative officers, led by University Provost, Michael Kotlikoff and the Provost for Medical Affairs, Dr. Augustine Choi. Now entering the Arts Quad is Bob Harrison, Chair of Cornell University's Board of Trustees. He is leading members of the Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech's Board of Overseers and members of Cornell University's Board of Trustees.
Next in the procession are the inauguration speakers, Jaylexia Lexia Clark, the undergraduate student speaker; Aravind Natarajan, the graduate student speaker; Charles Van Loan, Dean of the Faculty and the faculty speaker; and Evelyn Ambriz, the staff speaker. The student faculty and staff speakers are followed by the Inaugural Poet, Ishion Hutchinson, Assistant Professor in the Department of English.
Now entering the Arts Quad is the bearer of the university charter, Trustee Ezra Cornell, lineal descendant of Cornell University's founder. He is followed by the bearer of the great seal of the university, employee-elected Trustee, Chad Coates and the bearer of the university mace, Cornell Professor and faculty-elected Trustee, Mariana Wolfner.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are joined today by all four of Cornell's Past Presidents, Frank H.T. Rose; Hunter R. Rawlings, III, Jeffrey S. Lehman; and David J. Skorton.
[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]
Cornell's past presidents are followed by special guests of President Pollack, President of the University of Michigan, Mark Schlissel; President of Rochester Institute of Technology, David Munson; and our inauguration speaker and President of Dartmouth College, Philip Hanlon. Ladies and gentlemen, now entering the Arts Quad is the 14th President of Cornell University, President Martha Pollack.
[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]
[MUSIC - "THE BIG RED TEAM"]
CHOIR: (SINGING) Oh, I want to go back to the old days, those good old days on the hill, back to my Cornell, for that's where they all yell, Cornell-- I yell, Cornell. Cornell! Far above Cayuga's waters, hear those chiming bells. Oh, I'm longing and yearning and always returning to my Old Cornell.
[MUSIC - "THE BIG RED TEAM"]
Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Please now welcome to the inauguration stage, Sub Chief and Faith Keeper, Karl Hill of the Cayuga Nation. He will offer a speech of Thanksgiving, also known as "the words that come before all else," a traditional welcome in the Cayuga language, with an English translation.
KARL HILL: [SPEAKING CAYUGA]
Thank you. I will briefly now give an English translation of the thanksgiving speech, [CAYUGA]. First, we gave thanks to the people. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. We now bring our minds together as one, as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people. Now, our minds are one.
Next, we gave thanks to the Earth Mother. We are thankful to our mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us, since she has since the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks. Now, our minds are one.
In this shortened version of [CAYUGA], I condensed all of the plants, animals, waters, and winds. And I referred to them as the Creator's assigned help. They care for all of his creation, including the Earth Mother and people. We now bring our minds together as one, as we give thanks to his assigned help. Now, our minds are one.
In another example of condensing, I grouped together the thunders, the sun, and the moon. We are thankful to the Thunder Beings, for they bring water that renews life. And we call them our grandfathers. We are thankful to the Sun, our eldest brother. Because he gives creation the light, warmth, and energy needed to grow.
We gave thanks to the nighttime Moon, our grandmother. Because we are able to measure time by her changing face. And she is responsible for watching over the arrival of children here on earth. We send them greetings and thanks. Now, our minds are one.
Moving on, we gave thanks to [CAYUGA], our spiritual leader. We also call him Handsome Lake. He was chosen by the Creator to spread his message of how people are to conduct themselves in their daily interactions. We send Handsome Lake our greetings and thanks. Now, our minds are one.
Next, we me gave thanks to the four Sky Dwellers. They protect us and keep us thinking peaceful thoughts. They keep our minds straight. We send them our greetings and thanks. Now, our minds are one.
Now, we gave thanks to the Creator. He has given us many gifts of creation. He has given us peace, love, and wellness. In our most careful words, we send greetings and thanks to the Creator. Now, our minds are one.
This was a shortened thanksgiving speech. It was not my intention to leave anything out. If something was left out, we ask that everyone send greetings and thanks in their own way. Now, our minds are one.
And that concludes the English translation of the [CAYUGA]. Now, I'd like to offer congratulations to President Pollock and thank her for acknowledging the history between the Cayuga Nation and Cornell University.
I'd also like to acknowledge that my maternal aunt, Janine Jamison, was a Cornell alumna of the class of 1975.
I'd like to thank the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program, and the entire university for the effort to change the academic calendar to include Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Lastly, I want to state that it is an honor for me to give the Thanksgiving Address to two sitting presidents that came from the Hanover [? plane, ?] my fellow Dartmouth alumni, President Pollack and President Hanlon. Thank you. [CAYUGA]
CHARLES WALCOTT: Mr. Chairman, we are gathered here today to celebrate the inauguration of the 45th President of Cornell University, Martha E. Pollack. The processional, members of the Board of Trustees, members and friends of the Pollack family, and esteemed guests are in their places. The assembly for the inaugural convocation is hereby called to order.
JAYLEXIA CLARK: Jeffrey S. Lehman, 2003-- great universities must continue to promote the spiritually satisfying coexistence of people with one another and with our planet. The dividing lines of race and religion have long been especially powerful stimuli for conflict, mistrust, segregation, and war. Scientific and technological progress have long challenged societal institutions to sustain humanistic and environmental values, even as they have enhanced the quality of human life.
Universities have a special capacity to help students to be open to the challenges, to appreciate their complexity, and to engage them with all of the scientific, social scientific, and humanistic resources we can muster.
CORNELL CHORUS: (SINGING) Strike up a song to Cornell and let the swelling chorus rise before us. Strike up a song to Cornell. And set the campus ringing with our singing. Fill their glasses with a song. And drink the magic music spell. We will sound the joy of life intense in our rousing toast to Cornell.
Strike up a song to Cornell. And let the swelling chorus rise before us. Strike up a song to Cornell and set the campus ringing with our singing. Fill their glasses with a song. And drink the magic music spell. We will sound the joy with life intense, in our rousing toast to Cornell.
Strike up a song to Cornell. Come let us strike up a song to Cornell. Strike up a song to Cornell.
ROBERT HARRISON: Good afternoon. It is my honor, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, to welcome you to this historic occasion, the inauguration of Martha Pollack as the 14th president of Cornell University. I extend a special thank you to those of you who have traveled long distances, delegates of institutions of higher education and learned societies, and Cornell alumni from around the world.
The presence of so many faculty, students, staff, and alumni here today, as well as the thousands who are joining us online, is a testament to the connection and commitment that we all share to this unique institution and to the values for which it stands. Cornell, a revolutionary idea in 1865 that became the truly first American University, began with our founder Ezra Cornell, his partnership with our first President Andrew Dickson White, and their progressive vision of any person, any study.
Cornell's remarkable evolution from Ezra Cornell's 300-acre farm, which included this very spot, to one of the great universities in the world, is the result of the leadership of 13 presidents who have devoted themselves to the founding values and growth of this institution over its first 152 years. I'm especially pleased to welcome the living Cornell presidents who have preceded Martha Pollack in office and who are here today to bear witness on this momentous occasion.
They personify this university. David Skortin, Cornell's 12th President, is a scientist and humanist who steered Cornell through the great recession; recommitted the institution to student access through full need-based financial aid, even during that challenging period; and led the team that won the competition to create Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island, which will be opening in just three weeks.
Jeff Lehman, Cornell's 11th President, a lawyer, was the first Cornell alum to lead the university. He reached out to the entire Cornell community through a worldwide call to engagement and focused particular attention on Cornell's international footprint, expanding academic partnerships in China, Southern Asia, and the Middle East.
Hunter Rawlings, Cornell's 10th President, a classicist, completely transformed the undergraduate residential experience, creating both a welcoming home for first-year students on North Campus and a residential college environment for upper upperclassmen on West Campus. He also remains the only Cornell president who took the helm for two interim periods when the university needed him, ultimately serving as president in three different decades.
--Cornell's ninth President is a geologist, whose written work and speeches on the changing landscape of higher education and the role of the college president made him a national treasure. In Ithaca, he re-envision Cornell as "the" land grant university, not just to New York State, but to the world. Before coming to Cornell, Frank Rhodes was a professor, dean, and vice-president at the University of Michigan.
He was the fourth Cornell president to be recruited from Michigan, in a line that began with our first President, Andrew Dickson White. Martha Pollack is the sixth Cornell president with ties to Michigan.
[APPLAUSE & CHEERS]
Without apologies, I would like to thank the University of Michigan for providing Cornell with such fertile recruiting ground. And I would like to extend a big red welcome to President Pollack's many friends and colleagues from Ann Arbor who join us here today. Go blue!
[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]
I also want to say a word about Elizabeth Garrett, Cornell's 13th President, someone whose absence is keenly felt today, even amidst our celebration and ceremony. President Garrett was an infectiously optimistic and decisive leader, whose term sadly ended after only eight months. We should always remember her energy, passion, pride, and ambition for Cornell's future.
Today, I would also like to express my deep appreciation to my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, whose commitment to the university seems bottomless. The single most important responsibility of the Board is, without question, selecting a president of the university. I'm incredibly grateful to the entire Board and, in particular, to the 22 members of the Presidential Search Committee, for their tireless efforts, conducting an international search over a period of six months to make sure we recommended the right candidate to the full Board of Trustees.
I want to offer special thanks to Trustee Jan Rock Zubrow, who accepted my invitation to chair the Presidential Search Committee for the second time in two years, for her diligence and leadership of a very large, diverse, and engaged committee. I'm especially grateful that Jan resisted--
I'm especially grateful that Jan resisted the strategy some had suggested, which was to dispense with evaluating hundreds of resumes from around the world and simply call the University of Michigan switchboard to ask, who do you have available?
I'm also honored to welcome my predecessors as Chairman of the Board Pete Meinig and Harold Tanner. They have been mentors to me and steadfast partners with the presidents of the university during their tenures as chair, motivated only by doing what is in the long-term best interest of Cornell and carrying out that responsibility with a shared desire to elevate Cornell's stature ever higher. Would all of you please stand so that we can recognize you.
Thank you. Let me also thank those who are with me on the podium to assist in the formal installation of our new president, Professor Charles Walcott, University Marshall; Trustee Ezra Cornell, direct descendant of our founder and bearer of the university charter; Chad Coates, employee-elected Trustee and bearer of the university seal; and Professor Mariana Wolfner, faculty-elected Trustee and bearer of the university mace.
I also want to welcome our inauguration speakers, Philip Hanlon, the President of Dartmouth College; our Inaugural Poet, Ishion Hutchinson, Professor in the Department of English; Jaylexia Clark, undergraduate student speaker; Aravin Natarajan, graduate student speaker; Evelyn Ambritz, staff speaker; and Professor Charles Van Loan, Dean of the Faculty and faculty speaker. Welcome to all.
As we celebrate--
As we celebrate this milestone event in the life of the university, I also take great pleasure in welcoming and thanking Martha Pollack's family, her husband, Ken Gottschlich; her children, Anna and Nick Gottschlich and their partners; her father, Martin Pollack; and her father-in-law, Chad Gottschlich; and her brother, David Pollack, along with his wife Lucy. What a proud day this must be for all of you. I want to thank you for sharing your wife, your mother, your daughter, your sister with us and for letting her become part of the Cornell family as well.
--on behalf of the entire university community, I am honored and thrilled to welcome you as Cornell University's 14th President.
CHARLES WALCOTT: In common with Cornell's First President, Andrew Dickson White, and four of his successors, Martha Pollack comes to Cornell after serving with distinction at the University of Michigan. As the following selections suggest, the presidential inaugural addresses of this group of scholars are as timely today as they were when they were first delivered.
ARAVIND NATARAJAN: Frank H.D. Rhodes, 1977. The research university is a great reservoir on which the fulfillment of all our hopes and larger society aspirations must draw. Knowledge is the base of the pyramid of progress, for all our problems, both local and global, are represented within the subjects that engage faculty members across the spectrum of Cornell's schools and colleges.
In confronting the towering technical and social challenges that these problems represent, there lies what hope of survival we have for the future. And in addressing the personal question of truth, meaning, justice, beauty, goodness, and hope, there lies the heart of those yearnings we have for the survival with meaning and dignity. The research university is humankind's best hope against the stark alternatives for the future.
CHARLES VAN LOAN: Edmond Ezra Day, 1937. On campuses such as this, thoughtful men and women, of faculty and student body alike, should be led to seek out all sorts of ideas. Ideas that are deeply rooted in human experience. Ideas that, like constellations in the intellectual firmament, have guided the earlier mariners of human thought.
Ideas that have more recently opened the doors of new knowledge, of nature and of man. Ideas that afford the foundation of our systems of law and order, of justice and liberty. Men and women on a campus like this, should learn how knowledge is gained and wisdom won.
EVELYN AMBRITZ: Charles Kendall Adams, 1885. It must never be forgotten that the possibilities of the greatest successes will always carry with them the possibilities of feebleness and failure. The one is always the counterpart of the other. It is quite possible that there is more of crime and more a voice of energy in a land of freedom than in a land of oppression.
But of far greater importance is the other fact, that there is immeasurably more of devotion to the higher interests of self and society. Herein, indeed, lies the chief advantage of freedom. In the history of education, the very highest results have never been reached except under systems that have given the largest liberties of choice.
ROBERT HARRISON: Thank you. It is now my privilege to introduce the president of Dartmouth College and a longtime mentor and colleague of Martha Pollack's, Philip Hanlon. President Hanlon grew up as a neighbor of ours in a small upstate New York town called Gouverneur, with a population of 7,000. And yes, that's upstate from Ithaca-- 150 miles further north.
I understand, from reviewing some of Phil's biographical speeches, that the Gouverneur in which he grew up boasted 30 bars and not much else from a cultural perspective. So President Hanlon, I would like to welcome you to the big city and cultural capital of New York State.
Philip Hanlon is the 18th president of Dartmouth College and a professor of mathematics with a deep commitment to undergraduate education. He has taught a class every fall within the math department since assuming the presidency in 2013. In fact, the former chairman of the Dartmouth board told me that board meetings are scheduled around Professor Hanlon's teaching schedule.
The board chair also told me that what the trustees love about their president is that he wakes up every morning and says, what can I do to make Dartmouth better today? Before arriving at Dartmouth, President Hanlon had a distinguished career at the University of Michigan, where he and Martha Pollack became extremely close friends and colleagues and followed similar paths.
When Phil was promoted from vice-provost to provost, Martha succeeded him as vice-provost. And when Phil became president of Dartmouth, Martha succeeded him as provost at Michigan. I can say with complete confidence that, effective today, the entire Cornell community will do everything in its power to prevent a continuation of this pattern. Welcome to Cornell, President Hanlon.
PHILIP HANLON: Thank you, Chairman Harrison. And good afternoon, everyone. It is indeed an honor to be standing before you today on such an historic and celebratory occasion, the inauguration of Cornell's 14th president, and an even greater pleasure, because we are celebrating the presidency of my dear friend and colleague, Martha Pollack.
A wise person once told me that being a university president is like riding a roller coaster. You reach unprecedented new heights. But these heights are almost always followed by precipitous falls. Everyone around you is screaming and waving their arms. You're thrown for an occasional loop when the whole world looks upside down. Well, four plus years into my presidency, I can report with certainty that this is an apt description.
The life of a university president isn't always easy. But it is, in fact, a privilege. To serve an institution like Cornell that is fiercely committed to the noble causes of education and knowledge creation makes weathering the ups and downs of the job a truly exhilarating ride, the thrill of a lifetime.
Today, as we gather on this quad, at this moment, to honor this remarkable academic leader, I have just one essential message, it is to reaffirm your choice of Martha Pollack as your next president, to tell you you've chosen wisely and congratulate you on the selection. I do so with great enthusiasm. The wisdom of this decision has only begun to be unfurled.
Now, surely, the historians among you are aware that this is not the first time that a Dartmouth graduate has come to lead your institution. Nor is my appearance today the first time that a sitting Dartmouth president has participated in the installation. 80 years ago, Edmund Ezra Day, a graduate of the Dartmouth class of 1905, for whom your own administration building, Day Hall, is named, was inducted as Cornell's fifth president, serving from 1937 to 1949. And then Dartmouth President Ernest Martin Hopkins spoke at that occasion.
Now, while Martha and I overlapped as undergraduates, 40 years ago. It wasn't until many years later that I had the privilege of actually meeting and working with her, 370 miles due west of Ithaca, at the University of Michigan. And coincidentally, Edmund Ezra Day is another one of those Cornell presidents who cut his administrative teeth at the University of Michigan, as founding dean of what is now the Ross School of Business.
But it was there, in Ann Arbor, that I came to admire Martha's leadership. At the time, I was serving as vice-provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs, while she was serving as dean of the School of Information. Among the 19 deans we had at Michigan-- a large and pesky cohort, even for a university of Michigan's size-- Martha clearly stood out for having a set of attributes that I believe made her destined for this presidency.
First, her genuine care and concern for people, students, faculty, staff, alumni alike. One-time Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey famously closed each of his convocation addresses by telling the students, you are the stuff of an institution. And what you are, it will be. The sense of this statement, that the success of an institution reflects the success of its people, is something that Martha feels to her core.
The years that Martha and I spent working together at Michigan were amongst the most challenging in the institution's history. In real terms, annual state support fell by hundreds of millions of dollars, leaving the administration faced with a deluge of difficult decisions. Through all these turbulent times, Martha stepped up for the people of the institution, finding ways to maintain critical staff positions, while enhancing our commitment to faculty hiring. Recognizing that all great students come from great teachers, she flat out refused to allow budgetary issues to compromise the strength of the academic enterprise.
Second, I would note Martha's unusual clarity around vision for the future. For example, early in her career, long before the advent of the internet, Martha envisioned the power of scholarship and education to combine traditional computer science with social sciences and humanities. Before many others-- before most others-- she understood the importance of the interface between people and machines, foreshadowing a world we have today with computation embedded in every aspect of human existence.
She correspondingly championed innovative degree programs and lines of research that have helped position the School of Information at Michigan to seize the opportunities in today's world of ubiquitous computing. And finally, Martha's unwavering commitment to the foundational mission of the university, the pursuit of truth; to consider issues with a truly open mind; to gather all available evidence pertinent to the issue at hand; to apply logic and reason and values to this evidence, in order to reach a conclusion.
I mention this, not only because it's important to Martha, but because, in today's world, the unbiased pursuit of truth seems increasingly out of fashion. We live in an age of unprecedented polarization, where logic and reason too often take a backseat to ideology and where people routinely gather only those facts that support their point of view and dismiss evidence to the contrary.
Interestingly, Ernest Martin Hopkins thought wise to speak to this very point at President Day's inauguration all those years ago. The function of a liberal arts college, Hopkins said, is to establish within its disciples a habit of mind eager to know what the truth is, persistent in attempt to find it, and loyal to its implications. He went on to say that, in seeking the truth, we must not be swayed by what we expect or hope to see or lean towards conclusions that serve our self-interest.
It is as clear today as it was 80 years ago that we must be ever vigilant in defending this foundation of the academy. And I can tell you with certainty that you have chosen a leader who will do exactly that. Martha possesses this habit of mind and applies it to every decision she makes. I was not at all surprised that the pursuit of truth was the topic of last night's outstanding academic symposium.
Today is a moment of great pride for your institution. Because in choosing Martha Pollack, you have gained so much. You have gained a fierce and tireless advocate for the mission of Cornell and for those who are committed to advancing it. You have gained a visionary leader, one who will root out the best your university has to offer from every nook and cranny of your campus and make it known the world over.
You have gained a loyal friend, one who will tell you the truth, even when the truth hurts, and will always support you in your endeavors, listen intently to your concerns, and embody the very leadership characteristics Cornell has long instilled in its graduates. All of Martha's experiences-- as an exceptional student, an outstanding teacher-scholar, a gifted administrator, a loyal partner to her husband Ken, and a dedicated mother to their two children-- have brought her here to you today.
Congratulations, Martha. And congratulations Cornellians. You are on this thrill of a ride together. May it elevate you to your greatest heights. Thank you.
ROBERT HARRISON: Thank you, President Hanlon. And now, a reading of the inaugural poem, by Ishion Hutchinson, Professor of English and our Inaugural Poet.
ISHION HUTCHINSON: "Singing School Valediction." A scarlet breeze buoyed him next to us. His white feather hair, a boys, giddy and bright, for this-- what he called the immaculate air. It never crossed my mind the wind could be fostered down to such a casual vision, a taper of crocus spied through a bubble level. Daily, I have climbed a mound to teach my seminars. Some days, I dared look back, pushing the glass door at what was reflected in the glass-- vermilion shock of trees, a sky that swims blue and unbroken with clouds, merging with those brindled hills, some a wink of gold corona through powerlines.
Always, I disappeared inside, before an eagle fell from the sun-- or whatever was subsequent to sun-- and charged the kids, recite. I listened, distanced. But now, tuned to his big turniped face, fringed peat moss sprouts from his ears, black bird, black [? berles ?] perked, flicker antennas pulling from the air words that filled our small, nervous, compass hearts, with the love harp light entwined between us. I became a thicket of airs-- tends to engrave by instinct the gradient shifts of his voice before he scaled the promontory, a kingfisher hushed back into the chrysalis he sang to us from.
ROBERT HARRISON: Thank you, Professor Hutchinson. The first task of the Presidential Search Committee was to identify the qualities we were seeking in the person who would become Cornell's next president. We concluded that we wanted a bold and inspirational leader; a collaborative decision-maker, who values shared governance; a distinguished scholar, who appreciates the sciences and the humanities and can forcefully advocate for both; a successful administrator of a large and complex institution; an exceptional communicator, with the capacity to leverage Cornell's bully pulpit on a national and even international scale; an academic who understands the centrality of the land grant mission to Cornell's identity; and finally, an individual with the constitution to survive both Ithaca winters and frequent trips between campuses on the C-to-C bus.
Now, I'm not exactly deifying our next president. But I am convinced that we have found the perfect person to lead Cornell at this precise moment in time. Martha Pollack was born near New York City but has spent a lot of time in idyllic college towns with serious winter weather, like Hanover and Ann Arbor-- great training grounds for Ithaca. She is a computer scientist and a linguist who has always sought human applications for her research that could improve people's lives, like developing assistive technologies for people with cognitive impairments.
Her background in computer science and artificial intelligence could not be better designed to help us realize the potential of Cornell Tech. She is firmly grounded in the Academy as a member of the faculty, but has also demonstrated an exceptional ability to lead and manage an institution as vast, complicated, and de-centralized as Cornell.
A few years ago, Professor Isaac Kramnik, a member of the Presidential Search Committee and one of our university historians, described Cornell as an Ivy League university with a Big 10 soul. Martha Pollack told me that that really resonated with her. It's who she is. It's where she has been. It animates her dedication to access, diversity, and academic freedom. It underpins her desire to see universities advance knowledge, engage with the world, and improve people's lives.
Martha Pollack has that rare mix of academic achievement, practical experience, scientific curiosity, total unpretentious, and extraordinary interpersonal skills to lead Cornell into the future. Madam President, I now call upon you to join me at the podium, so we can pass the torch with anticipation and complete confidence.
At this time, it is my distinct honor and high privilege, on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Cornell University, to present to you our compliments and best wishes, to convey to you our sense of satisfaction and confidence upon your accession to office, and to declare you now, in the presence of this assembly, installed as president of Cornell University.
[APPLAUSE & CHEERS]
Into your hands, is placed the administration of the university. And into your hands are placed the symbols of that authority. Madam President, as was done in the installations of our earliest presidents, let me present to you the charter of the university. Let it be for you a constant reminder of our mission of service to the people of this state, the nation, and the world.
Now, Madam President, may I entrust you with the great seal of the university which, since our earliest days, has been affixed to the diplomas of Cornell graduates. The great seal bears the profile likeness of our founder, Ezra Cornell, encircled by his noble charge to all responsible for the future of the university. I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study. May these words be kept forever in your heart.
Lastly, Madam President, received the mace of the university. Use the authority which this mace symbolizes with goodness and intelligence, not only for the benefit of Cornellians, but for the good of men and women everywhere.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 14th President of Cornell University, Martha E. Pollack.
[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Thank you. Thank you, Chairman Harrison. I am deeply honored by the trust that you and the other members of the Board of Trustees have placed in me. The trustees have a remarkable level of talent, passion, and commitment to Cornell. I have come, in a very short time, to understand and to share that passion. And my pledge to you today is one of commitment, to do everything I can to ensure that Cornell continues to thrive and to reach its highest aspirations.
Thank you, also, to my predecessors, the prior presidents of Cornell, four of whom are here today. It's perhaps de rigueur, on an occasion such as this, to state that one is humbled. But humbled I am to follow in the footsteps of these four men who so wisely guided this university over four decades.
Honestly, it's humbling because, as if it weren't enough for them to be extraordinary accomplished academic leaders, one of them also wrote A Definitive Field Guide to the Fossils and another a book on how to win at Monopoly. A third had an offer to try out for the Baltimore Orioles. And the fourth played flute on the stage with Wynton Marsalis. You know.
It is also fitting that we remember President Elizabeth Garrett, whose own inauguration was less than two years ago and whose time at Cornell was so tragically cut short. I'm grateful to President Hanlon for his very kind comments, his support, and his friendship; to the faculty, students, and staff of Cornell for being here today and for being Cornell; and to the other state, local, and tribal leaders who have joined us.
It also brings me great joy to share this weekend with my family and friends who have traveled here from around the country. But to the large contingent from the University of Michigan, I have a word of warning. We don't sing "Hail to the Victors" here. I just didn't want you waiting for that.
Finally, a very special thanks to my immediate family, my amazing husband, Ken Gottschlich; our children, Anna and Nick; and my father, Martin Pollack who, at age 83, still works full time, because he wants to, and who taught me, from a very early age, the ultimate value of education, hard work, and family.
Inaugurations provide a moment to reflect on history. And at Cornell, it seems to me, we have a particularly strong appreciation for our history. More so than at other universities, our students, faculty, and staff know the story of our founding, of Ezra Cornell, the farmer-mechanic, who made his fortune as a founder of Western Union; of Andrew Dickson White, the historian and professor who met Cornell when both were serving as New York state senators; and of the opportunity that the two men saw in the Moral Act of 1862, the federal statute that established land grant colleges, an opportunity to create, not just a new university, but a new kind of university.
The vision that Cornell and White had is embodied in our founding principle, to be a place where any person can find instruction in any study. Their vision embodies two ideas that were quite radical when Cornell was founded in 1865. First, that this university would be open to any student, not restricted by gender, race, religion, or nationality. And second, that it would be open to any study, not limited to, but certainly not excluding the classical liberal arts and expansive in including a wide range of professional fields.
75 years after Cornell's founding, during celebrations marking that anniversary, the eminent Cornell historian Carl Becker gave a speech that has been quoted many times. Most often, people quote Becker's description of the Cornell ethos as one of freedom and responsibility. Important though that characterization is, today, I want to reflect on a later portion of the speech in which Becker discusses the purpose of universities.
There is, he said, no reason for the existence of Cornell or of any university, except in so far as they served to maintain and promote the humane and rational values which are essential to the preservation of democratic society and of civilization as we understand it. And he continued, democratic society, like any other society, rests on certain assumptions as to what is supremely worthwhile. It assumes the worth and the dignity and the creative capacity of the human personality as an end in itself.
It assumes that it is better to be governed by persuasion than by compulsion and that goodwill and humane dealing are better than a selfish and a contentious spirit. It assumes that man is a rational creature and that to know what is true is a primary value upon which, in the long run, all other values depend. It assumes that knowledge and the power it confers should be employed for promoting the welfare of the many, rather than safeguarding the interests of the few.
Becker gave this speech in 1940. It was a time at which terrible unspeakable acts were occurring in the world. It was arguably the moment in the 20th century at which democratic society was most threatened. Today, there is no less of a call for universities to maintain and promote the humane and rational values that preserve democratic society. Today, it is just as important as it was in 1940 to roundly reject bigotry, hatred, and fascism.
Today, it is just as essential to stand firmly on the side of democracy, human dignity, and the well-being of the many. We meet these obligations in many ways in universities, through the pursuit of distinguished scholarship that betters humankind, through the thoughtful education of the next generation, and through the fulfillment of our civic responsibilities. At a high level, these are relevant to and shared by all universities. But we must understand and realize them within the unique history, culture, and strengths of Cornell.
Let me start with academic distinction. If, as Becker states, knowing what is true is a primary value for democratic society, then universities surely have a critical role to play through our core work of discovering, curating, and preserving knowledge. It is not just our ambition but also our responsibility to do this work with as much distinction as possible, so as to contribute to society as much as possible.
We must always aspire to distinction in both senses of the word. We must be distinguished. And we must be distinctive. Cornell is academically distinguished, because our faculty are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise. Although I've only been here four months, I've already had remarkable conversations with faculty members who are renowned for their scholarship in everything from the literature of the African diaspora, to electrical static interactions in DNA and RNA, to genomic analyzes of high-yield rice cultivars, to the sensory aspects of marketing wine-- really.
To maintain our academic distinction, we must and we will invest in our faculty. And we will work to ensure that Cornell provides an environment in which faculty thrive, as teachers and as researchers. We must also explicitly and intentionally build on what it is that makes us Cornell, on what is intellectually distinctive about us. We have an unusually fierce commitment to the notion that there is a compelling synergy between the liberal arts on the one hand and professional study across a swath of disciplines on the other. We're extraordinarily broad.
We're an Ivy League college. And we are a land grant university. We treasure knowledge for its own sake. And we eagerly pursue applications of knowledge that positively impact the world. We're at a moment in Cornell's history that affords us an additional dimension of distinctiveness. I refer, of course, to next month's official opening of our Cornell Tech campus, in that other bustling town, New York City. Those of you who are not Cornellians, look at the words to the alma mater, and you'll get the reference.
Cornell has had a significant preference presence in New York City for well over a century, most visibly and our outstanding medical school, Weill Cornell Medicine, which opened in 1898. But the creation of Cornell Tech represents a doubling down of our involvement in and impact on New York City. And I believe that the opening of our Roosevelt Island campus will be nothing less than transformational.
Now, let me be clear. Even as we expand in New York City, we remain fully committed to Ithaca campus. As I have said many times over the past few months, Ithaca is a magical place, a community centered on scholarship and education; in which informal interactions among faculty, students, and staff happen routinely and effortlessly; a physically glorious setting, centrally isolated in a way that fosters a remarkable experience of learning and intellectual growth. Ithaca itself is a key distinctive feature of Cornell. And it is our heart and soul.
But extraordinary opportunities arise from our expansion in New York City-- cultural opportunities, opportunities for more immediate access to industry, opportunities to engage first-hand in developing solutions to the challenges of an urban setting in a world that is increasingly urban. Just as we have a long tradition of recognizing and building on the complimentary strengths of the liberal arts and the applied fields of study, just as we have been able to successfully combine Ivy League values with those of land grant and city institutions, so too will we combine and benefit from the synergistic advantages of our rural and our urban campuses. One Cornell we shall be. And we shall be stronger and more distinguished because of it.
The second pathway for maintaining and promoting humane and rational values is education. Arguably, it is through the education we provide to our students that we do the most to promote those values. As we teach and learn from thousands upon thousands of remarkable students each year, we develop and refine their ability to assess truth, to appreciate beauty, to uphold and defend the core principles of a democratic society, and to improve the world they inhabit.
As we do this, we must aspire to what I like to call educational verve. Now, if you, like me, are an avid solver of the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, you'll recognize "verve" as a periodic entry, typically clueing answers of elan, zest, vim, breo, gusto-- probably some more. These are the characteristics that must describe our educational work.
Often, one hears assertions about the impact of the internet on teaching. You hear the claim that traditional approaches to teaching have been rendered pointless, because students have ready access to all the information they could ever need right there on the cell phones that they've superglued to their palms. Well, yes. Our students do have ready access to information. We all do. And the conveyance of information, per se, cannot be our main goal in teaching.
But that's nothing new. Here's Alfred North Whitehead, the British mathematician and philosopher, writing in 1929. "So far as the mere imparting of information is concerned, no university has had any justification for existence since the popularization of printing in the 15th century."
"The justification for a university is, instead, that it preserves the connection between knowledge and the zest for life, by uniting the young and the old in the imaginative consideration of learning. The atmosphere of excitement, arising from imaginative consideration, transforms knowledge. A fact is no longer a bare fact. It is invested with all its possibilities.
Or as Bill Nye, the Science Guy and a Cornell alumnus, put it when he was on campus for his 40th reunion this past June, "the essence of a Cornell education is to feel the joy of discovery. Excitement, imagination, joy, verve. This is what we must aspire to in education, a vitality that leads our students to a lifetime of discovery, a passion for ideas, and a commitment to seeking truth."
Importantly, this is not an indictment of lectures. Lectures can be captivating, as full of verve as you can imagine. And there is a place for them in the university. But we should also adopt-- and we have been adopting-- alternatives to the lecture-- the flipped classroom, for example, or programs for engaged learning, where students go out into the community to apply what they've learned in the classroom and then sharpen their understanding through reflection on those experiences.
We must additionally explore new technologies that include but go well beyond making course material online, technologies that allow students to chart more personalized paths through individual courses and through entire curricula, technologies that provide early warnings to faculty about students who are struggling, and technologies that allow us to analyze the data we have about our students to create an evidence-based understanding of what is most effective in teaching and learning.
In my experience, faculty who explore teaching innovations often find the process to be deeply satisfying and come away feeling enriched about a very meaningful component of their work. There is reward in being open to new ideas and new methods that enhance our ability to prepare students for the important work of educated citizens, work that is grounded in the joy, the verve, of continual learning.
Beyond our core work of research and education lies the third pathway to promoting humane and rational values, and interlinked triad of civic responsibilities that universities must satisfy. These responsibilities begin with an obligation to stand up for the very notion of knowledge and truth. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the former United States senator from New York, famously said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts.
Yet, over the past decade or so, we have seen a growing disregard for evidence in shaping both individual beliefs and public policy. We have become, as a society, sloppy in assessing information, too frequently content to conclude that something is true or false on the basis of hearsay without rigorous examination of evidence.
There are many reasons for this-- the glut of information we encounter every day which makes it taxing to discern what is accurate and what is not; the degree to which social media facilitates the seemingly endless repetition of unsubstantiated assertions, until they take on the aura of truth; and perhaps the complexity of the modern world, in which highly specialized knowledge may be required to evaluate claims of fact and to ascertain their veracity. We don't know everything.
But as others have noted, not knowing everything does not mean we know nothing. That there are competing hypotheses does not mean that, on balance, the evidence doesn't point to one or the other as most likely. That there may be multiple interpretations of an event doesn't mean that some aren't better justified than others.
The physicist Edwin Hubble observed that science progresses through successive approximations of the truth. And I'd argue that that's the case for our understanding of the world and of our lives more broadly. The growing failure of our society to have a common understanding of what makes information reliable is a dangerous trend, one that threatens the coherence of our democracy. As an institution committed to the value of knowing what is true, we at Cornell must forcefully and publicly defend the notions of evidence, reason, and-- yes-- truth itself. And we must be intentional in providing both our students and the public the tools needed to assess information and determine the reliability of it.
Cornell's faculty understand this. Yesterday's academic symposium provided outstanding examples of faculty members who study the nature of truth and the reliability of information. Late last spring, our faculty senate passed a resolution on reliable knowledge, calling for us to initiate educational activities that explain established academic practices for discriminating between fact and opinion, validating facts, and exposing the communication practices that distort, confuse, and seek to repress or censor reliable knowledge. The resolution suggested a set of concrete activities. And I will gladly support their implementation.
Tightly linked to our commitment to truth is our second civic responsibility-- to protect freedom of speech. Without an ability to hear all ideas, we cannot come to know what is true. We can only have successive approximations to truth if we allow statements that are at odds with the currently understood approximation. While there are significant distinctions in the ways in which the United States Constitution affects public versus private institutions, such as Cornell, there can be no wavering in our commitment to the values and rights inherent in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
As a university, an institution whose very mission is tied to the free interchange of ideas, we have a special responsibility to be open to all thought. When faced with speech that is obnoxious, offensive, even hateful, we must remember what history has shown about the perils associated with suppressing speech, that so often it is the powerful majorities who suppress the speech of the less powerful.
From abolitionists and suffragettes in the middle of the 19th century; to labor organizers in the early 20th century; to those who marched for civil rights in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, those seeking to advance freedom and to fight oppression have had to fight for their rights to assemble, to speak, and to protest. The groups that we might aim to protect today by shutting down some of what offensive speech are the groups that would have stood to lose the most in the past had freedom of speech been abridged.
This does not mean that there are no limits to speech. Threats and conduct that incites imminent violence are not protected under the Constitution, nor would we tolerate such activities on our campus. Persistent harassment that targets an individual or behavior that reasonably is deemed to disrupt university activities is also unacceptable. The lines are messy. And debate about them is appropriate and a healthy activity for our universities.
But our first instinct must be to protect freedom of speech. While there are those who may promulgate messages that we collectively and institutionally abhor, we cannot allow them to push us into curtailing the rights that we cherish. Instead, it is our duty to use those rights to identify and confront evil, to educate, and to vigorously support, empower, and defend the dignity of those who are targeted by the abhorrent speech.
This leads to our third responsibility, to work diligently for a future in which all groups are included in the conversation and to create a community at Cornell that is truly diverse, inclusive, and egalitarian. Multiple imperatives underlie this responsibility, our knowledge, backed by research that learning is enhanced in diverse settings and that diverse perspectives lead to better solutions to problems; the stresses in our society that will only be addressed when our citizenry has an increased capacity to work across difference; and the moral imperative of equality that is fundamental to democracy.
An openness to all people is embedded in Cornell's identity as a university for any person. Yet, even with our deep commitment to egalitarianism, Cornell has not always been successful in realizing this value. Moreover, we are part of a society in which discrimination and hatred have tragically not been vanquished. Our work must continue to create a culture in which all members of our community feel that they belong, can do their best work, and can learn from one another.
And as we work towards an ever more equitable and inclusive Cornell, so must we carry these qualities beyond our campuses and into the broader world. Just as science progresses through successive approximations of truth, so too, I believe, does humanity progress through successive approximations of justice. Or as Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently stated, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
I began this afternoon with some remarks about Cornell's founding. And I would like to end in the same way, with a story about the depth of our founders' commitment to equality. Despite their expressly stated desire to create a diverse campus, there were very few African-Americans in the early classes. And in 1874, when none were currently enrolled, President White received a letter asking him whether the university did, in fact, welcome black students.
President White's response was clear. He wrote, if even one offered himself and passed the examinations, we should receive him, even if all our 500 students were to ask for dismissal on that account. This is the essence of Cornell, a university bold in its ideals and fervent in its commitment to them. Today, I stand humbled, committed, and ready to take on the noble work of this university, along with you the Cornell community.
Together, we will sustain and enhance Cornell's academic distinction. We will ensure a culture of academic educational verve. And we will do the difficult but essential work needed to fulfill our civic responsibilities. Together, we will take satisfaction in doing what universities like ours were created for-- promoting humane and rational values and, thereby, not simply preserving, but also enriching democratic society, both intellectually and morally. Thank you.
ROBERT HARRISON: Thank you, President Pollack. This is a great day in the history of Cornell. Our 3,400 faculty, 23,000 students, 13,000 staff, and 230,000 fanatically loyal alumni welcome your leadership and stand ready to help you take the university to new heights. Don't be surprised if you hear from every single one of them with suggestions. Cornellians are a very special breed, deeply proud of our history, ever optimistic about our future, wildly eager for you to succeed as president. President Pollack, together we welcome you to Cornell and promise you our support throughout your tenure.
Thank you all very much for coming and for helping us welcome and inaugurate Martha Pollack as Cornell University's 14th president. Please rise and join the University Glee Club and Chorus and wind symphony for the singing of the Alma Mater. And please remain standing until the academic recession has passed. Following the recession, I invite all of you to join us at a street fair here on the Arts Quad. Thank you.
[MUSIC - "FAR ABOVE CAYUGA'S WATERS]
CORNELL CHORUS: (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.
[CHEERS & APPLAUSE]
[MUSIC - "BIG RED TEAM"]
(SINGING) Oh, I want to go back to the old days, those good old days on the hill, back to my Cornell, for that's where they all yell, Cornell-- I yell, Cornell. Cornell! Far above Cayuga's waters, I hear those charming bells. For I'm longing and yearning and always returning to my old Cornell.
[MUSIC - "BIG RED TEAM"]
[MUSIC - "NEW CORNELL FIGHT SONG"]
(SINGING) C-O-R-N-E double-L, win the game and then ring the bell. What's the big intrigue? We're the best in the ivy league! Rah-rah-rah! Score the point that puts us ahead. Knock 'em dead, Big Red. 1, 2, 3, 4, who are we for? Can't you tell? Old Cornell!
[MUSIC - "NEW CORNELL FIGHT SONG"]
[MUSIC - "GIVE MY REGARDS TO DAVY"]
(SINGING) Give my regards to Davy. Remember me to Teefy Crane. Tell all the pikers on the hill that I'll be back again. Tell them just how I busted, while lapping up the high, high ball. We'll all have drinks at Theodore Zinck's when I get back next fall.
[MUSIC - "GIVE MY REGARDS TO DAVY"]
[MUSIC - "GIVE MY REGARDS TO DAVY"]
(SINGING) [INAUDIBLE] tell all the pikers on the hill that I'll be back a-- I'll be back again. Tell them just how I bust-- busted, while lapping up the high, high ball-- ball-- ball-- ball. We'll all have drinks at Theodore Zinck's when I get back next fall.
[MUSIC - "GIVE MY REGARDS TO DAVY"]
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The procession starts at Ho Plaza and makes its way to the Arts Quad. University leadership, trustees, faculty, staff, students and delegates representing other universities participate in the procession. View the