Welcome, everybody, and thank you so very, very much for putting this extraordinary event on your calendar of what is a very busy weekend. There are a number of us who wondered whether this day would come. But not only is it here for our ceremonial groundbreaking, but if you go around the building you will see that the groundbreaking has been alive and well in actuality once we were able to lay down the asphalt about two months after we wanted to. But, no, with all seriousness this is actually an extraordinary day.
And you'll be hearing from Dr. Janet Corson-Rikert, and Chairman Bob Harrison, and President David Skorton with many of the thank yous in how we got here. But I want to start by extending my own thank yous to several groups of people. To my colleague Qi Wang and all of his staff-- as I mentioned to the Gannett staff when we did an in-house celebration, I wasn't sure at one point we actually ever would get to this day.
Because we just had a vision that's couldn't match what were the resources. And as I stood in the Infinite Corridor at MIT wondering how to make this happen, I was on the phone with Qi. And he said, I think I know how we can make this happen. We need to get in touch with Grace Chang.
And Grace, who is a Cornell alumni and a very, very talented architect, along with all of her colleagues at her firm, knew this building inside and out. Because she had already put 20 pounds into a five pound bag in the existing building. And Qi was absolutely confident that her talent as an architect and her existing knowledge would be able to catapult this program forward in the budget that we had. And lo and behold, that happened. So to Qi and all the facilities folks, and to Grace and your team, we're here because of your creativity and your persistence.
To Janet and her entire staff, and especially to Nianne Van Fleet who knows every corner of this building as well as grace does, you actually took the vision and got through all of the details. And so as we go through the next several months of no windows and lots of noise, you now can see the light at the end of the tunnel, eventually. Eventually, those windows will reopen.
And to the deans and my administrative colleagues, a deep, heartfelt thank you. This building is being funded in a way no other building on the campus has been funded. You're going to hear a lot about the generosity of our donors. And I am eternally grateful for Chairman Bob Harrison for his leadership gift and his leadership on this project.
And I'm especially grateful to my colleagues on campus. Because had you not stepped forward to be partners with us, this was not going to happen. So this is a building of the campus and for the campus. And may it ever be that.
So with that, I'd like to invite my dear friend and very talented and treasured colleague Janet Corson-Rikert, who's our Associate Vice President for Campus Health to come forward. Janet?
Well, good evening, and thank you all for being here. This is a day that some of us have been waiting for for a very long time. And I'm delighted you could all be here for our official groundbreaking. As Susan stated, we've been hearing the noise for a while now. So we know it's real.
But to echo Susan's comments, every new building is important to Cornell. But very few belong to the entire community. In this case, every single college and administrative unit has contributed to this project, as have many board members, alumni, and friends.
And the programs it will house, in turn, will support every student in the university. And, in fact, every member of the university student, faculty, and staff, whether through direct clinical service, consultation, occupational health programs, or public health initiatives. We are so grateful to Chairman Harrison, to President David Skorton, to Vice Presidents Susan Murphy and Qi Wang, whose belief in the importance of this project made it possible. And to our architect Grace Chang, and Peter Trowbridge, our landscape architect-- both Cornellians, as Susan said-- to Gilbert Delgado, and our whole facilities team who are making it happen.
This major renovation isn't coming any too soon. We actually have covered up here, but there's a plaque on the wall from 1957. And I'll tell you that a lot has changed since that was mounted in that year.
At the time, this facility housed a handful of clinicians who were brought here to deliver outpatient services to augment the work of the clinicians and staff at the Sage Infirmary down the hill. But since that time, our student body has almost doubled in size. And our mental health services have increased about eight to 10-fold in size.
The scope of our operation has also expanded to include a broad set of campus health initiatives aimed at the environment in which our students live and learn, and our faculty and staff teach and work. On this foundation of what was built in 1957-- and at the time called the Gannett Clinic-- we are building Cornell health. This Prime Ho Plaza location represents and supports the centrality of individual and campus health to Cornell's academic mission, strategic plan, and identity as a caring community.
We're thrilled to look forward to a facility that will restore our ability to care for patients with efficiency, sensitivity, and dignity, that will elicit the confidence of patients and clients to reinforce the professionalism of our staff and the quality of our services, a facility to which students will be drawn by a sense of openness and visibility at which campus partners, student leaders, staff, and faculty will find resources, engagement, and strategies for our collaborative efforts to support the health of this community. Through Grace's inspired design, we will be transforming this facility through a multi-stage project which will create an environment that is welcoming and accessible to all members of our diverse community, incorporating principles of universal design. And by the way, that's not easy to do in a building that's going to have seven different split levels.
It will create an environment that will support collaboration among mental health, medical, and health promotion staff to provide state of the art, integrative, clinical and public health services to whole people whose minds and bodies are intricately connected and whose health is influenced by the academic and social environment of this campus and this community. With this new facility, and are engaged campus partners, we will be well-positioned to service as a national model for population-based health in an exciting time of unprecedented reconsideration and innovation in both health care and higher education.
Thank you all for coming today to celebrate this groundbreaking for the new facility of Cornell health, the visible embodiment of our caring community, and for helping us keep student welfare at the center of our shared concern. With this new facility and with your partnership, we will work to keep students healthy, learning, and thriving at Cornell and over a lifetime now and for generations to come. Thank you.
Thanks, Janet, and hello everyone. I am thrilled that when our shovels touch the ground we will make believe that the countdown will begin for the transformation of Cornell's Health Services building and the already incredible care that is being provided here. I have absolutely huge respect for Janet Corson-Rikert, and her leadership in creating the gold standard for health care on American university campuses. It is particularly remarkable, as we just heard, given that this building dates back 60 years when Cornell had a much smaller population and when medical diagnosis and treatment were much less advanced than they are today. The expansion that we're undertaking will enable University Health Services to continue to provide first class integrated care.
In addition to Janet, there are two other people who must be recognized for advancing this essential project. Susan Murphy is one of them. For years, she has given her wisdom and passion to advocate for students and to protect their well being. She personifies the caring community we've tried to create here. And she felt strongly for years that University Health Services needed to be expanded and upgraded to continue to provide the highest quality care going forward.
Early in David's presidency, Susan proposed a renovation. And she knew then that we were operating at the limit of what could be done in this facility. Despite the clear and increasing need for a renovation, that building proposal became a victim of the 2008 economic crisis. But Susan did not let it die. She was tenacious, appropriately aggressive, and very creative in terms of financing, philanthropy, and architectural redesign to make this project work. Susan, thank you for your dedication and persistence in getting us here today.
The other person we need to recognize is Dr. David Skorton, our physician president. David has been visible and visionary in elevating student health as a core element of the university's mission his articulation of Cornell as a caring community provides the very basis for improved campus culture, one in which everyone has a role to play in fostering an environment that supports health and well-being. During the suicide crisis of 2010, he urged students that if you learn nothing else while you are at Cornell, please learn to ask for help.
His call to end the pledging as we know it has made Cornell a national leader in efforts to prevent hazing and otherwise create healthier Greek life. His commitment to address high-risk drinking has lent support to active bystander programs like Cayuga's Watchers, which are showing encouraging signs of effectiveness. And he has been outspoken about the need to prevent sexual violence, calling upon men to be leaders in changing the culture.
David's lifelong commitment to health care as a physician and as a college president is clearly reflected in the facility that we are recreating beginning today. I am proud to announce that we will be establishing the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives. Through the Skorton Center, David's extraordinary leadership and dedication to student and campus health will continue long past his presidency.
Within Cornell Health, the Skorton Center's multi-disciplinary team of health professionals will create and implement programs to support the community's physical, mental, and sociological health. The new Cornell Health will become a model of integrated medical and mental health services where patients will be treated as whole persons. The Skorton Center will establish partnerships with faculty from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, the College of Human Ecology, and the Bronson Brenner Center for Translational Research.
As a result of these partnerships, the center will create a program of research and evaluation to support evidence-based institutional strategies and strengthen Cornell's national reputation as a leader in student health. The center will also train future health professionals. It will offer public health fellowships for recent Cornell graduates and field placements for students in the global and public health studies major.
Our transformed health services facility will connect future generations of Cornellians to the enduring vision of President David Skorton. An inscription outside the new entrance will tell all visitors that Cornell health is the home of the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives. It will look like this.
It says, the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, and has a quote from David's convocation, which reads, bring your strength, and spirit, and heart along to develop a caring community everywhere there is the name Cornell, President David J. Skorton. It is now my privilege to welcome the inspiration for the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, Dr. David Skorton.
Well, my big goal this week was to reduce Susan Murphy to tears. And here she's turned the tables on me. Wow, I am very seldom speechless. But this is unbelievable.
I can't thank you enough for thinking about this. Bob, and Janet, and Susan, and everybody else that had a part of this-- Alan, I'm sure, and others, thanks a lot. I'm going to forestall my comments about how you look in those white hats and just go on. This is really something-- wow, thank you, thank you.
Well, this is a very happy occasion for me, even happier than I thought it was going to be. This had been a priority for me, as Bob said, throughout my nine years here, and a long time before. And when I first was getting to know Cornell before coming here 10 years ago, one of the things that I looked into from afar was the reputation of the health care that was given here.
And as Bob alluded to, it is considered-- was considered for a long time-- the gold standard. Janet's responsible for a lot of that. And I know that she would agree with me that her colleagues are responsible for the vast majority of it.
And the part that makes the Gannett approach so important is that it's what is referred to as a public health approach, where in addition to-- not instead of, but in addition to-- dealing with each individual's issue, an approach is taken to increase the community's health, and therefore affect each person's health in the long run. And it's a very, very important concept. it's been used by the military. It's been used by governments.
And Janet's one of the exponents that it's made its way to-- with her colleagues, of course-- to a college campus. And so I was thrilled to be able to come to a place where I could be so proud of the health care right on campus. And I'm here to tell you that I'm a satisfied patient of Gannett on many occasions.
This is where I get my travel help and a lot of other help. And it's even better when you're involved in it than it is on a piece of paper or on a website. We wouldn't be here today in any way without the support of a lot of the people who were already mentioned.
In 2013, the board of trustees recognized that this was a very important thing to do. And if they hadn't recognized it, we wouldn't be here today. And I want, again, to thank Bob and Jane Harrison for making leadership gift that kicked this off and did a very substantial part of the overall philanthropy. And please join me in thanking the Harrisons for this.
And contributors at all levels have stepped up to the point where this is about a $20 million philanthropic project, which is astounding, astounding, and very, very grateful to each and every one of them. Starting with the Harrison's, but going throughout. The people contributing to this, in case you haven't been aware of this, include more than 600 people who donated to a special mini campaign for the building in a campaign called Thanks, Susan in honor of Vice President Susan Murphy.
And I got a chance to surprise her with that at her going away event. But still, I have more ideas for the weekend. A floor of this building will be named the Susan H. Murphy Administration and Health Promotion Floor, which is really wonderful.
And I'm so pleased by that. Susan's dynamic leadership has been essential to innovations in Cornell's health and well-being for many, many years. And her leadership, of course, was also-- as was mentioned-- crucial to getting this off the ground period.
I want to say a few words to my colleague Janet Corson-Rikert. Being a doctor is one of the most-- I know she'll agree with me-- satisfying things that you can do with your life. It's immensely satisfying to deal with someone who's scared, who's in need, and whatever the outcome, to try to help.
Very few physicians go into medicine thinking that they're going to become bureaucrats and run systems. And Janet has run this system-- and that's what it is-- in the middle of the most difficult time where America began to understand that we were spending too much money on health care. And a dizzying array of changes have occurred in reimbursement systems that continue to this very day.
And the two officers in any university that understand this the best are the HR professionals and the health care professionals. And it continues. Obamacare is just the latest iteration of an unending stream.
And through all those changes, and through all the increases in the number of people needing help, and the change in the type of health that they need, Janet has adhered to a steady course, and kept a steady hand on the helm. And last year won what I have thought was an overdue national award for her exceptional work. Thank you, Dr. Corson-Rikert.
I also want to go back one more time and talk about the staff of Gannett. And I'm not going to make the mistake of mentioning any individual people. Because this sort of an operation-- and I know the leaders will agree with me-- each person depends on every other person in the outfit.
It's a crew that has dealt with enormous, enormous challenges-- from predictable times where stresses may come out like Slope Day, to unpredictable things such as we witnessed in 2010 and 2011. And through all of that, they have-- in my eyes, more as a physician than as a university president-- shown the very best attributes of caring about each individual, and not being judgmental, but bringing to the bedside, so to speak, that kind of caring that is the most important word in caring community.
So Janet, I know, will join me and all of us applauding the staff of Gannett-- really amazing, amazing people.
So in a moment we're going to pick up the shovels here and symbolically break ground for the new University Health Services Building. I believe that we will look better in those red hats than-- well, than many of you, I'm sorry, look in those white hats. And I hope that Bob Barker will help me in documenting the difference between the red hats and the white hats.
I'm going to remember this day very fondly after I leave Cornell. I didn't realize that this was going to happen. But we're on our way to matching the superb programs that make this center what it is with the facilities that it needs. So thank you, and thanks a lot, Bob, for this unbelievable surprise.
I'd like to invite Janet, and Bob, and David, and our two student-elected trustees-- Annie O'Toole and Ross Gitlin-- to wear the red hat and the shovels. And we will break ground for Cornell Health-- please, come.
Get that down a little lower.
Got it on? All right, ready?
All right, so [INAUDIBLE].
So everybody get in there.
And look here before you put those shovels in the ground. OK, go ahead, stick those shovels in the ground. OK, so lift out some dirt here.
Let's do that again, one more time. Nobody else was listening! All right, here we go.
One, two, three.
So we want to do a small group of Annie, Ross, and Bob together as--
And you guys get your white hats. Because you're going to join us in a minute.
Yeah and then just the three of you. And then we'll do Susan, Annie, and Ross. And then we'll invite everybody else up, OK. David [INAUDIBLE].
Look right here. Great, OK. One more.
You want the toss?
Go ahead. Toss those again.
All right, now everyone come up. We're going to do one big group photo. Come ahead. We've got lots of room.
Come on up.
I was told from [INAUDIBLE] that you're supposed to touch shoulders.
How are you?
Hi, how are you?
Anyone need a hat?
OK, so if you cannot see me, I can't see you. So if somebody is really tall in front of you, just tap them politely. And ask them to crouch. All right, here we go. One, one, two, three, all right-- two more! Two more! Quickly!
One, two, three, big smiles in the back! One, two-- three, thank you.
Thank you, everybody!
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Ceremonial groundbreaking of Cornell University's new health center - an update and expansion of the current Gannett building on Ho Plaza - with remarks by Susan Murphy, Janet Corson-Rikert, Robert Harrison, and David Skorton.