About Cornell

Scenic view of Cornell campus in fall.
Welcome to Cornell

Knowledge for the greater good

We have taken to heart the revolutionary spirit that founded our university and encourage each other to pursue unpredicted lines of thinking in order to effect change on local and international scales.

Cornell Campuses & Locations

Main Ithaca Campus
Main Campus
Ithaca, NY
Main Campus
Ithaca, NY

Located in Ithaca, NY, Cornell's main campus provides the experience of the traditional college campus: eateries, residence halls, academic buildings, libraries, and research facilities. But its natural beauty—the nearby lake, natural waterfalls, and gardens—set the campus apart from others in the Ivy League.

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Quick Facts

Ithaca, New York
Private university, public mission
Big Red Bear
Cornell pennant
  • 25,898
  • 1,599
    University Faculty
  • 50
    Nobel Laureates
  • $297M
    undergraduate grant aid (FY21)
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Our Profile

Cornell is a privately endowed research university and a partner of the State University of New York. As the federal land-grant institution in New York State, we have a responsibility—unique within the Ivy League—to make contributions in all fields of knowledge in a manner that prioritizes public engagement to help improve the quality of life in our state, the nation, the world.

Campus Maps & Directions

Cornell University Ithaca, New York
(607) 254-4636

Cornell History

Old telegraph machine
Success, Loud and Clear

While working for Samuel Morse, Ezra Cornell devises a way to use electricity and magnetism to string telegraph wires on glass-insulated poles aboveground. He takes much of his pay in stock, becoming the largest stockholder of Western Union. The success of the telegraph enables him to found Cornell University in 1865.

Ezra Cornell from the 1860s
Radical Beginnings

President Lincoln signs the Morrill Act into law. New York State Governor Fenton signs the Cornell charter. Together, these signatures establish Cornell as New York's first land grant university. Ezra Cornell states: "Finally, I trust we have laid the foundation of an University—an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

Bell and clapper
Chimes Ring Out Over the Hill

The original set of nine bells first ring out from ground level at the University's opening ceremonies October 7, 1868. In 1873 they find a permanent home in McGraw Tower and have since been recast and expanded to 21 bells. They continue to ring daily concerts, making them one of the largest and most frequently played chimes in the world.

1875 class photo showing students posed on building steps
Coeducation: The 'Great Experiment'

Sage College welcomes 25 female students, making Cornell a pioneer in coeducation and attracting many applicants. Early graduates include two college presidents, Julia Josephine Thomas Irvine (Wellesley) and Martha Carey Thomas (Bryn Mawr); a publisher and author, Ruth Putnam; and noted Cornell professor and scientist, Anna Botsford Comstock.

Document of foundation for Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity
'...We Shall Transcend All.'

Seven Cornell undergraduates found the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity on campus. Initially started as a study and support group, it becomes the first intercollegiate fraternity for African-American men in the nation and quickly evolves into an organization built on defending the rights of African-Americans through social action.

Carl Becker standing next to a tree
75 Years of Cornell Scholarship

In an address marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Cornell University charter, distinguished teacher, scholar and historian Carl L. Becker captures the spirit of the university with a phrase that would become a Cornell trademark: freedom and responsibility.

Hans Betha riding a bike in the Wilson Synchrotron
Innovation Underground

At its opening, the Wilson Synchrotron is Cornell's largest single construction and the world's largest particle accelerator, for use in physics, materials science and biology. With expansions over the years, the facility includes a tunnel buried 40 feet beneath Cornell's track complex, creating a giant ring with a half-mile circumference.

Armed student reading a paper document
Occupy Cornell

A burning crucifix on the porch of the Wari House Black women's housing cooperative compels more than 100 members of the Afro-American Society to occupy Willard Straight Hall for a day and a half. Soon after, 5,000 students take over Barton Hall in support of the Society's demands, prompting decades of sociocultural and political change on campus.

Illustration from the Voyager Spacecraft showing solar system positions and male and female figures
Sagan Greets Aliens

Pioneer 10 begins a 3,000-light-year voyage, the first spacecraft to travel beyond our solar system. In hope of communicating with extraterrestrials, NASA enlists Cornell astronomers Frank Drake and Carl Sagan to design a pictorial greeting. The image depicts Earth as the origin of the message.

Ticket stub from Grateful Dead campus performance
The Grateful Dead Play Cornell

Based solely on audience recordings, future Grateful Dead Archivist Dick Latvala declares one show in the band's 1977 tour possibly their best performance ever. That show? The Grateful Dead's concert in Barton Hall on May 8, 1977. The show becomes a "you had to be there" moment and recordings of it are a must-have in any fan's collection.

Akwe:kon house exterior.
A Home for “All of Us”

Akwe:kon residence hall opens its doors, becoming the first university residence in the U.S. built to celebrate North American Indigenous heritage. Akwe:kon, which means “all of us” in the Mohawk language, is envisioned as a means for teaching people about Indigenous cultures and histories and is home to innovative and successful intercultural programming in conjunction with Cornell’s American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program. Cornell later celebrates the Cayuga Nation with the naming of Ganędagǫ: Hall in 2021.

Pumpkin atop spire of McGraw Tower
The Pumpkin That Scaled a Tower

In October, a hollowed-out pumpkin appears atop the spire of McGraw Tower, attracting months of international attention. It sits there, unreachable, for five months until workers testing crane equipment accidentally knock it down. The mystery of how the pumpkin made it there to begin with remains unsolved.

Mars Rover on Mars
Mars Rover Program is a Go

Twin Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity land on Mars, embarking on three-month missions led by Cornell astronomy professor Steve Squyres. Extensive data collected by the rovers in the ten years since have provided new insights into the possibility of water on the red planet and the general composition of Mars.

People digging and removing stones from a hole in the ground
Water for the People

A student-designed water plant brings clean, treated water to the Honduran town of Támara as part of Cornell's AguaClara Project. Led by civil and environmental engineer Monroe Weber-Shirk, the project works with students and villagers to bring cost-effective, municipal-scale water treatment technologies to communities in Honduras and now India.

Baroque organ pipes amidst fancy wooden scrollwork
Pipe Dreams Realized

A new baroque organ debuts to a full house in Anabel Taylor Chapel. Construction of the massive, 1,827-pipe instrument—the first in the world to be equipped with wind systems that let it reproduce sounds exactly as Bach and other period composers intended—employed authentic 18th-century techniques.

Architectural drawing of tech campus in New York City
Cornell Tech, Designed for Impact

The first phase of Cornell Tech opens on Roosevelt Island, close to the heart of New York City. The campus is a space where graduate students focus on the intersection between technology and entrepreneurship, allowing it to become the urban nexus for fast-tracking tech solutions that have immediate relevance to New York City and the world.