SPEAKER 1: This is a production of Cornell University.
PETER: Welcome to the 57th annual meeting of the board of trustees and the University Council, where we learn more about the state of the university. How are things, President Emeritus Lawrence McDaniels was once asked. All things are pretty good, he replied, but when you're my age, there are many things to consider.
This weekend, we'll consider many things, because this gathering includes the most dedicated, talented, and loyal Cornellians. 78 trustees and trustees emeriti, 22 presidential councilors, and 295 council members and their families, along with faculty, staff, and students. Trustee Council Weekend is a highlight of the Cornell year, right up with reunion and commencement, and I encourage you to take full advantage of the weekend by attending the many seminars, panel discussions, meetings with students. In so doing, you'll renew your respect for and commitment to our alma mater.
The council renews itself by electing one fourth of its members each year. And today, we greet 103 new members, coming from as far as the United Kingdom, Finland, India, Indonesia, and Japan. And I just say wow.
Selection to the council constitutes recognition of distinguished service. So I would like to ask all the new members to please stand so that we can thank you again for all you've done and will do for Cornell.
Lots of people up there, too.
The board of trustees also welcomes new members. Catherine Duke is a student elected trustee. A junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, with a concentration in economics, Cate is a founding member of the Cornell chapter of the Roosevelt Institution, which is the nation's first public policy think tank for students. And she also finds time to work as a teaching assistant.
Bill Eaton is one of two alumni elected trustees. A member of the great class of 1961--
--Bill has been in the food industry since a summer job at the Statler convinced him to switch from engineering physics to hotel administration.
I don't know why everybody laughs at that. I don't know.
A recipient of the Frank H.T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award, Bill boasts a rich Cornell legacy, including his father, class of 1931, three children, and one grandchild. That's great.
Steve Ettinger is our other alumni elected trustee. A member of the class of 1962 and a graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Steve is the medical director of the California Animal Hospital Specialty Group in Los Angeles. Like Bill Eaton, Steve counts a Cornell alumnus among his children.
Mike Zak, a 1975 graduate of the College of Engineering, is a general partner at Charles River Ventures. He is also a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy. Besides attending board meetings, Mike has another reason to visit Ithaca. His daughter, Adrienne, is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Lisa Skeete-Tatum, a 1989 graduate of the College of Engineering, is a general partner at Cardinal Partners, which is an early-stage health care venture capital firm. Lisa's husband, Mark, is also a Cornell graduate.
Finally, Lubna Olayan is a 1977 graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Based in Saudi Arabia, she is the CEO of the Olayan Group. Lubna's husband, John Xefos, is a member of the Cornell class of 1976.
Will the new trustees please stand as we welcome you to the board.
We have several other distinguished guests with us here this morning. Presidents emeriti Dale Corson and Hunter Rawlings combine goodness and wisdom. Along with their wives, Nellie Corson and Elizabeth Rawlings, they are preeminent Cornell ambassadors. So are three chairmen emeriti of the board of trustees, Austin Kiplinger, Stephen Weiss, and Harold Tanner. Nikki Tanner is also joining Harold here today. Thank you to all of you for your engagement, experience, enthusiasm, and expertise. A wonderful, wonderful group of people.
Yeah, I think that's worthwhile.
I'll say more about David Skorton in a minute, and it's all good, but now I'd like to recognize his wife, Robin Davisson. Robin, a noted scientist, award-winning teacher and mentor, who holds faculty appointments in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Robin, thank you for all you do for Cornell.
And of course, I want to recognize my wife, Nancy, class of 1962. Nancy serves Cornell well in many ways, not the least of which is providing good, direct advice to the chair, even when it's not solicited.
Now it's my pleasure to introduce Ronni Chernoff, who ably is succeeding Jay Waks as chair of the University Council. A 1967 graduate of the College of Human Ecology, Ronni also received two degrees from the Ivies that are a lot less hot and a lot less cool than Cornell. A 1967 graduate of the College-- I said that, didn't I? Yeah. When she's not working for Cornell, Ronni is a professor of geriatrics in the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas. Ronni, we look forward to your remarks.
RONNI CHERNOFF: See, I already wrote, Peter, thank you for the wonderful introduction. Says it right there. Good morning to everyone. I am absolutely honored to be here today as chair of the Cornell University Council, and would like to welcome all of our newly elected and returning members of council, all of the board of trustees members and our distinguished guests in the front row to this joint trustee council annual meeting.
We all know this, but Cornell University Council is truly unique among alumni organizations. Other universities have tried to replicate it, and have simply not been successful. It is a very special organization, as we all know, and Cornell alumni are really unique in our commitment to our alma mater. For this meeting, we have 280 council members registered, along with their guests, trustees, and presidential counselors, and there are over 800 of us here this weekend.
Being a member of this wonderful group of fellow alums has been a fun, stimulating, and educational experience. And I am particularly delighted with the theme of this year's program, Renewing Cornell's Founding Vision-- the Future of Higher Education. I think that you'll all agree with me that Jay Carter and his committee and our incredible staff have done a wonderful, wonderful job in putting this meeting together. The program is a wonderful blend of university priorities, alumni interests, and, I am told, great parties yet to come. We'll see.
I must take a moment to commend the office for all that they have done to help, and Jay and our staff. Our invitation to serve on council has given each of us opportunities to continue to give of ourselves to Cornell, and at the same time journey to Ithaca to enjoy all that is here to refresh our knowledge of what is happening on this campus, as well as with the new collaborative initiatives across both the Ithaca and New York City campuses.
We have all served as ambassadors for this amazing institution in our own ways-- as volunteers for our respective colleges, classes, and the university, as supporters of the Cornell Fund and the Far Above campaign, and as living examples of what one of the world's visionary educational institutions can produce. For example, a successful professionals, artists, civic and business leaders, entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and educators.
The theme of this meeting, Renewing Cornell's Founding Vision-- the Future of Higher Education, has brought to mind some thoughts I have had as an educator of many years. Although we may not realize it, we have each experienced education in many different ways. As students, as teachers, both formally and informally, and as mentors. We teach our children, our younger colleagues-- and actually, this morning, I was thinking some of our older colleagues-- our peers, clients, patients, partners, employees, and others with whom we communicate on a daily basis, or even infrequently.
But also, we are learners. And we are here on this campus for this weekend to gain knowledge about topics that we want to learn more about in our own fields of expertise or totally outside our orbits. Adults are often motivated to learn by different goals than are young students. For adults, there needs to be a connection with the individual's priorities. In our minds, there is a subconscious refrain. We used to call it a radio station, WIIFM, what's in it for me.
So what do we find that is in it for us? When we were students, our education was a means to an ends, to goals that we wanted to achieve in our lives. Today, we recognize that knowledge is a powerful tool to have in the world in which we live, perhaps today more than ever. I came across a quote some years ago that I found to be profound because it has been misquoted so often that we have lost its true meaning. In 1877, Thomas Huxley observed-- and I quote-- "if a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man--" my edit, or woman-- "--who has so much as to be out of danger?"
We have all been here as undergraduate and graduate students, and have had the opportunity to achieve these personal goals for our lives and careers. We have discovered that the more we know, the more we want or need to know. As Huxley points out rather succinctly, we must never become complacent about the amount of knowledge we accumulate, as there is always more to know.
So we are here this weekend to learn about the exciting activities that are happening here and plan for the future. What's in it for us is the opportunity to see the library collections on geospatial maps, to tour the Uris and Olin libraries and see the amazing renovation of Mann Library, to view library conservation of the rare books and manuscripts collections, or to see the plans for the museum expansion. We will have added to our own personal knowledge of behind-the-scenes activities that keep our university on the front edge of the arts and humanities.
We can see the commitment to putting ideas into actions in the greening of the West Campus dorms. We had a glimpse into the future of the life sciences initiative through the new Life Sciences Technology building and the Cornell Raptor programs through tours yesterday. Today, there are events that are planned, so there is time for you to offer to us your thoughts and opinions as alumni leaders.
As we look into the future of higher education and beyond, with the recognition of the Huxley adage, the more we know, the more we need to know, there are forums this afternoon about the future of the university and the world in which it functions and perhaps changes. And I think we all know that a great university should be an agent of change. And we come here for this once-a-year prospect of seeing old friends, particularly for those of us who live in the great middle of the country, which, trust me, is nowhere near here.
It should also be a place for fun with our friends. So we celebrate the uniqueness of Cornell and the excitement of looking into the future of higher education. Last year, Jay Waks introduced you to the concept of the role of council members as ambassador. As active alums, we are all informal representatives of Cornell in our volunteer activities, whether interviewing prospective students, participating in Cornell fun phone-a-thons, which nobody ever calls Arkansas, so I don't understand that, serving on class or college committees, or even tailgating at Cornell football games. It is my sincere hope that you will come away from this weekend with an excitement about what is happening at Cornell that will serve to enhance whatever activities you undertake as an informal ambassador for this amazing university.
You have received email newsletters, press releases, and have access to the website. We really would like feedback from you as to what has been most valuable and what you might suggest we can do to keep you more informed. Your thoughts are important, and we would like to know how we can enhance your successes and evaluate the contribution of the information shared through the university communications.
We all know from our earliest days on campus that Ezra's vision of founding a university to offer any person, any study is still quite alive. You will hear about the successes already achieved in the Far Above campaign, launched here last year, from David, and see into the future of Cornell as a leader in higher education. What we have learned here during our undergraduate and graduate days has laid the foundation of the intellectual insight that we understand to gain-- and again, to paraphrase Huxley, the more we know, the more we need and want to know.
For many of us, the notion of lifelong learning was instilled when we were students here, and continues. This need to know, want to know incentive contributes to the what's in it for me, and contributes to the continuing pride in the evolution of Ezra's vision, in which we have all shared. The evolution of this great university from the vision of Ezra Cornell to what it is today and into the future is to be celebrated this weekend and beyond. We rejoice in this vision together, and in our roles as trustee and council members. Share it with our classmates, old and new friends, fellow alums, and future Cornellians.
Let us enjoy this campus, our friends old and new, the opportunities to continue to learn, and the enduring vision of Ezra Cornell and his legacy. So I encourage you all just to enjoy the weekend and absorb whatever comes your way. Now, before I give the podium back to Peter, I have one more job to do. I would like for Jay to please come up here and join me on stage.
He's been terrific. OK, it is my pleasure to present you with this certificate of appreciation for the job you've done as chair of the Cornell University Council and all the other leadership positions that you have occupied. And I am going to read this in real English, because in there it's in old English, and I couldn't read it. Wait until you see it.
JAY WAKS: Old English.
RONNI CHERNOFF: Old English. Thank you. What it says is, Jay Waks, a distinguished litigator whose devotion to Cornell arises from his deep appreciation for the university's influence on his life, a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion, who expands opportunities for others to enjoy the fruits of a Cornell education. With the J.W. And Harriet S. Waks Scholarship at the Cornell Law School, he has furthered fair play, scholarship, and commitment to community.
Through the Waks Family Fund for International Education and Research, he has greatly enhanced the international stature of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Cornell honors him for his dedicated and vigorous leadership as chair of the Cornell University Council, chair of the Law School Advisory Council, as a member of the ILR School Advisory Council, and for his consistent and selfless commitment of time, wisdom, and thoughtfulness to the university's advancement. Congratulations.
JAY WAKS: Thank you very much.
PETER: Ronni, thank you very much for your thoughtful remarks. And I assure you that the board of trustees looks forward to working with you and the council for many years in the future. One of the fringe benefits of being chairman of the board is having the opportunity to introduce the president of Cornell 15 or 20 times a year. Roland Schmidt once said being a university president is a lot like being a cemetery director. Many people are under you, but none of them is listening.
We have a way of keeping people humble around here.
With his self-deprecatory sense of humor, David Skorton truly recognizes the truth in that quip. At the same time, with his deft, diplomatic, decisive, and, yes, visionary leadership, David has made sure that all Cornellians are listening, engaged, and part of something larger than ourselves.
|n this first year, David spared no effort in trying to get to know Cornell even better. He and Robin spent a week as freshmen dorm residents last year, and again this year. They have circled the globe, spent more than once. They spend time with students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents, policymakers, and members of our local community.
An optimist who is anything but cockeyed, David had the courage to announce a $4 billion campaign after just four months on the job. Today, he will share his thoughts about Cornell that that campaign is now creating. He will challenge us to dream, and also to reflect on what it will take to accomplish our noble aspirations. It is with great anticipation that I introduce the 12th president of Cornell University, David J. Skorton.
DAVID SKORTON: Thank you so much, Pete. Whoever wrote that line about the cemetery must know about the vice presidents who work for me. That must be it.
Thank you. Thank you so much, Pete. And not only for the introduction, but for everything that you and Nancy have done to make this transition so easy. And thank you, Ronni, for your comments, and in advance for all the things we're going to do together. And thank all of you for coming again and again and again into our hearts and classrooms and studios and laboratories and playing fields and being a part of Cornell.
Cornell University was founded as a new kind of American university. During the past year and a half, I've come to appreciate more than ever how extraordinary is Cornell. Its breathtaking natural beauty, the warmth of its people, the intellectual vibrancy and sense of mission that characterizes Cornell and informs our relationships with the greater world, and the deep commitment that so many of you and your fellow alumni have for this institution and its future. You who serve on the board of trustees, on the University Council, set the national and international standard for dedication to higher education. And this morning, I first again want to thank you for all you do. Thank you very much.
I want to share with you accomplishments and challenges this morning, but I want to start by telling you that this past year has been one of remarkable achievement for Cornell. I take no credit for these achievements, but I share in your pride, and I ask you this morning to share in my pride in these things that have happened for all of us in the last 12 or so months.
In August, Cornell was ranked the top-rated Ivy in Washington Monthly's third annual college rankings. And these rankings take into account how universities operate as engines of social mobility, their support for the research enterprise, and the extent to which their students engage in national public service. Number one among the Ivies.
Also that same month, Newsweek called us the hottest Ivy in a special section on hot colleges. The magazine made special note of our land grant status, with its emphasis on problem-solving as well as scholarly debate. It praised the quality of the College of Engineering, our programs of liberal arts, sciences, and the arts, and it called the hotel school the world's best.
Of course, high school students and their parents, many of you were onto Cornell long before the pundits at Newsweek and Washington Monthly got to that spot. If you need evidence, let me remind you that we received 30,383 applications for 3,055 places in the class of 2011, the largest number in the 143-year history of our institution.
And our first-year students are truly remarkable. They include musicians and model bridge builders and NASA interns and a Grand National Jump Rope champion. Alaska backpackers and Alzheimer's researchers, published writers and volunteer firefighters. And I'm talking about before they got to Cornell. The first-year students are off to a very strong start this semester, eager to contribute to the university and the world. And I can tell you from firsthand experience, again, in Mary Donlon, they get all of this done because they do not sleep.
On West Campus, where Robin and I are fellows in the Becker House, continuing students enjoy the so-called living-learning experience that is the distinguishing feature of West Campus life. And I want to recognize, and I can't do this often enough or profoundly enough, the leadership of my predecessor and friend, Hunter Rawlings, and the continuing commitment of vice president for Student and Academic Services, Susan Murphy, in creating a really new national model for residential life at Cornell. It's wonderful, and it's what keeps these students enthused and coming here. Thank you, Hunter.
Professors Ross Brann, Cindy Hazan, Porus Olpadwala are serving as house professors and deans of the three residential houses that are currently offering full programming to student residents. They are respectively Alice Cook, Carl Becker, and, most recently, Hans Bethe House. We'll open a fourth house, the William T. Keaton house, next fall, along with a fifth house, still unnamed, which all function as a traditional residence hall in its first year, and then move to full programming in the residence model in 2009. And I'm very pleased to announce this morning that professor of history Jefferson Cowie of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations has graciously accepted our offer to become the house professor and dean of Keaton House. Thank you, Jeff Cowie.
So the students are lining up in record numbers, and they're experiencing a fabulous living-learning community, but how are they doing? Well, they're thriving in the Cornell experience, as evidenced by national and international awards that our students and very recent graduates won last year. Rhodes scholarships, Marshalls, [INAUDIBLE], Goldwater and Udall scholarships. Our students continue to accomplish remarkable, remarkable things across the campus, from the sciences, where we hear a lot about it, to engineering, where we can't hear enough about it, to the arts, humanities and social sciences, and sometimes in endeavors that span all of these artificial barriers.
How many of you from time to time check out YouTube? You can be honest. How many of you like to look at YouTube? That's good. From time to time, you may have seen the video the Mandelbrot Set. It was created by [INAUDIBLE] class of '07, a physics major from Thailand who created his final project in a film animation course he took at Cornell. Through the video, he demonstrates that math can be beautiful, funny, and fun, even for non-mathematicians.
So yes, we have record numbers, we are very highly rated, and our students are doing well, but I must share with you this morning the fact that there are areas in which we need to do even better to help our students succeed. Cornell recently was the lead institution in a Teagle Foundation study of minority achievement in higher education, which, among many other findings, documented that average differences in college success among racial and ethnic groups are not simply a reflection of differences present at the time of college admission. No, the data show that many of the differences we observe are a result of aspects of the college experience. So we need to do better.
The Teagle study encourages schools to implement 14 specific diversity programs. Three of these programs were already being conducted at Cornell because of the leadership of Provost Martin and many others on campus. This semester, Cornell University's Diversity Council, which the provost and I co-chair, and its working group, chaired by Robert Harris, Vice Provost for Diversity and Faculty Development, and David Harris, Deputy Provost and Vice Provost for the Social Sciences, are implementing additional ideas to come out of the Teagle study.
I would like you to learn more about them. I would like you to peruse the diversity website, which is linked from the very first page, from the university's home page. I would like you to look into these and give us your feedback, and write directly to me and tell me what you think of these ideas. We need to do better. And with this evidence-based approach, I am hopeful that we will.
As an extension of Cornell's commitment to diversity and an amplification of the university's land grant mission, I have spoken widely during the year and in recent years about higher education's importance in international involvement, Cornell's long history of international involvement, and the role of universities in building institutional and human capacity overseas. I want to acknowledge this morning Vice Provost for International Relations and law professor David Whitman, who is providing very strong leadership to this and other universities in international efforts.
We have many, many recent activities to report in this area, including a new Master's of Professional Studies degree at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia with a focus on integrated watershed management. And I want to congratulate Professor Alice Pell, director of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development, CIIFAD, and her colleagues for their enormous life- and world-changing work over several years to put this program in place. And I want to note that Cornell is having a very positive impact in many other parts of the world with the so-called system of rice intensification that Professor Norm Uphoff and his colleagues in CIIFAD, in partnership with the organization [INAUDIBLE], the organization that developed the method, have introduced.
Cornell's work on this campus, in this immediate community, and around the world is supported by staff members of incredible dedication and great skill. And we aim to be an employer of choice in order to keep the best people coming to, staying at, and being fulfilled at Cornell. I am very pleased to report that Cornell was recognized nationally again this year for its innovative programs and policies that enable academic and non-academic employees to do their best to work for Cornell and for the greater society. The American Association of Retired Persons, of which I am a proud card-carrying member--
--I'm not sure why you're laughing. Those discounts are fabulous.
In any case, the AARP named us a top 50 employer for people over 50. Wonderful.
Hang on to your applause or you're going to get sore arms, because I've got some great news coming up here. Working Mother magazine again included us among the top 100 employers for working mothers. And just a few days ago, Monday of this week, we received the good news that Cornell has been selected by the US Department of Labor for one of the 2007 exemplary voluntary efforts awards, which recognized federal contractors with exceptional equal opportunity programs. Out of thousands of contractors, we were chosen. And this morning, I want to recognize Lynette Chapell-Williams and Mary Opperman-- Lynette the director of the Office of Workforce Diversity, Equity, and Life Quality, and Mary, vice president for Human Resources-- for their efforts on behalf of Cornell employees and all that they do. Thank you so much, Lynette and Mary.
And speaking of staff and enjoying my occasional ability to embarrass people, I want to recognize, because it never happens, and it should happen, and it should happen all the time, my staff colleagues in the president's office. If you are here, please stand up and take it like an adult. If you are--
--if you see this--
--just a minute.
I want to name them.
They're up there.
I want to recognize them by name. Terry [? Burdick, ?] [? Casey ?] [? Kovert, ?] Pat Driscoll, Liz Holmes, Anne [? Huntsinger, ?] Connie [? Kintner, ?] and [? Lori ?] Summers for all of their efforts. And if I have problems, it's my issue. If I look good, it's their issue. Kathleen Snyder and others. And any of you who are not here today, I'd like you to write me a memo and explain why. That would be great.
I also want to comment, in addition to those whom I've cited, that staff who work for Provost Biddy Martin, we share the same office. And especially [? Patti ?] [? Art, ?] I want to recognize you as also here today. So thank you again to our staff in the president's office.
So we've recognized the student numbers, the student successes, one important challenge we have in student retention and success related to diversity. And we've talked a bit about our wonderful employees across the faculty and staff divide. As you know, the faculty is the heart of Cornell, and one of the key areas of focus in the Far Above campaign. As you know from personal experience for decades, we seek for our faculty individuals from diverse backgrounds who are or who have the potential to be leaders in their fields.
Faculty at research universities are, by definition, pursuing future knowledge and creative works, and incorporating those into their teaching. I am pleased to report that, this year, a near record number of our current faculty members were elected to the major national academies. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. The largest number we have records of was in 1989, where 11 were inducted. And this year, 10. Just one snapshot to show the quality of the faculty, the heart of this institution.
As we build the faculty of the future, and as the provost says, as we every day rebuild Cornell University, we seek to replenish faculty positions as retirements-- we expect as many as 600 current faculty members on the Ithaca campus alone to retire within the next 10 years. As we build the faculty of the future and rebuild the university, we seek to maintain Cornell's breadth and depth at the same time.
Easy to say, a Herculean task to accomplish. We seek to increase diversity meaningfully. We seek to lead the university into new areas of intellectual promise and opportunity. And I'm very grateful to our Dean of University Faculty, Professor Charles Walcott, for his perspective on the issues we face with regard to the faculty and his role in shared governance.
For 2006-2007, Cornell, the provost's office, the deans carried out faculty searches that resulted in 84 successful hires. Of them, 28 women and 15 members of minority groups. In addition, we were able to retain 39 faculty members who had very attractive offers to go elsewhere. I want our faculty to have attractive offers. I want to have faculty here who are constantly having to turn off their phones and shut their doors because they're so much in demand. And I want to retain them. And I'll need to do it with your help.
Among the new appointments, and some of the faculty that we had a chance to meet, Robin and I, at our home just a few nights ago-- and by the way, as an aside, when we have the new faculty reception, the ushers are Meinig National Scholars-- now first of all, I want to recognize the Meinig family for supporting and naming the National Scholar network.
And I want to tell you how intimidating it is to have a student of that quality taking someone's coat. And then, as I'm trying in vain to strike up an intelligent conversation, the student standing behind the person is very subtly shaking her head.
In any case, as always a humbling experience, meeting some of these new faculty really makes one excited about the future of Cornell. I want to take just a moment to share just a couple of randomly grabbed examples of some of these fantastic dozens of faculty that were hired this year by the deans and the provost.
Jordan Matsudaira who's an assistant professor of policy analysis and management in Human Ecology, and recently a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at Berkeley, who works in the areas of education and health inequality. Suzanne Mettler, '94, one of our alums, the Rossiter Professor in Government, until recently a distinguished professor at Syracuse University, whose areas of research include public policy, citizenship and democracy, and politics and gender.
Ted Brennan, another senior-level faculty member whom we recruited from Northwestern, is arguably the strongest young full professor in classical philosophy in the country who was not already at Cornell. And Natalie Mahowald, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, who was a recognized leader in the study of global climate change, and who came to us from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
And although he is not new to Cornell, I want to mention that 36-year-old Gun Sirer, associate professor of computer science, is featured in the October 16th issue of Popular Science magazine as one of its brilliant 10 scientists and researchers. Wow. The magazine cites his work to make the internet less vulnerable to hackers, a problem that hadn't even been identified until he set to work on it approximately three years ago.
The faculty also performed very important leadership functions in the university, in addition to the teaching and research, mentorship, and direct service. On the leadership side, I am pleased to report that Bob Berman, formerly director of Cornell's Center for Nanoscale Systems, has accepted Provost Martin's offer to serve as our new Vice Provost for Research, a very, very important position. He succeeds our beloved Nobel laureate Bob Richardson, professor of physics, who is now a science advisor to Biddy and me.
Thanks to the efforts of my partner, Vice President Charlie Phleger, and his colleagues in Alumni Affairs and Development, and thanks, of course, to the extraordinary, breathtaking commitment of our volunteer campaign chairs, Bob Appel, Steve Ashley, and Jan [INAUDIBLE] this year has been one of unprecedented, unexpected partnership between the university and its alumni, parents and friends, as we work together to advance this university. I am profoundly grateful to all of you, to all of those who contributed, to those who contributed large gifts and small, to those who contributed time and volunteerism and enthusiasm, and to those of you who mentored me.
I've been particularly touched by a growing number of gifts, a stream turning into a torrent, from younger alumni, many of whom have established endowed undergraduate scholarships so that others can follow in their paths. Cornell parents have also made significant gifts to this campaign. They have been joined by a number of Cornell staff and faculty and faculty emeriti. Fiscal year 2007 was the most successful fundraising year in 143-year history of Cornell, with $754.8 million in new gifts and commitments. Thank you very much.
At the same time that those new gifts and commitments broke a record, at the same time, gifts to the Cornell Annual Fund also reached a record level of 18.4 million, which is a staggering 29% increase in one year, due to the remarkably effective efforts of many people, but especially Bob Katz. Bob, wherever you are, I want to thank you.
$4 billion, an immense number. At the time that we started, nobody with a campaign bigger than this in higher education, now or ever. Because of you, we have already raised $1.78 billion of that $4 billion. And I don't even know what happened since last night when I finished the speech.
As of this week, the Ithaca portion of the campaign surpassed, or as I like to say, blew past, the $1 billion mark. Thank you very much.
One of my passions, as many of you know, is to recognize increasingly the importance and centrality of the Weill Cornell Medical College to the overall university mission and to bring our campuses closer and closer and closer together. And at Weill Cornell, we had the best year in fundraising ever for any American medical college, catapulted by an extraordinary $300 million gift from Joan and Sandy Weill, which included $50 million here for our new Life Sciences Technology building at Ithaca. These results are truly remarkable, are unprecedented at Cornell, and demonstrate the extraordinary commitment and belief and confidence that you show. We will uphold your confidence. We will make you proud to invest in Cornell. Thank you.
Now, one of Cornell's great strengths as a university, perhaps its greatest strength from my point of view as a faculty member, is the comprehensiveness and balance of quality among the disciplines, of course including science and technology, the various professional fields, the arts, humanities and social sciences. And our alumni and parents and friends have been generous in their support of all these areas.
You know that I'm a physician and an engineering professor. And my background is 100% in the sciences and in the caring professions. But I want to talk to you this morning about the social sciences, arts and humanities, which are the soul of the university, and which touch on some of the most difficult problems our society has to face.
And this morning, at this session I am pleased to announce, very humbly and very proudly, that several distinguished alumni have demonstrated their generosity and love of learning and respect for these fields by donating an aggregate total of $61.5 million in support of groundbreaking programs in the humanities, arts, and social sciences at Cornell. $61.5 million.
Provost Martin has long made the arts, humanities, and social sciences an area of focus in terms of the university's academic priorities, a focus which I passionately share. And these new gifts, and many others that I know will follow, will make it possible for us to act on these passions, to act on these priorities in ways that will ensure their long-term strength, not only for Cornell, but for the society that so sorely needs our help in the social sciences and in public culture.
$46.5 million in several gifts will energize in fundamental ways the humanities and arts, enabling these faculty to offer new approaches to learning that inspire our students to discover and to create. I would like to thank the donors publicly today, some of whom wish to remain anonymous, who have made these extraordinary focused gifts. A third-generation Cornellian has committed $15 million for enhancements of the arts and humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences. This is the largest gift to the humanities in the history of Cornell University.
A Cornell couple has committed $10 million to the humanities, of which 5 million will endow the chair of the English department. A $4 million gift from Stanford [? '51 ?] and [? Jo-Ann ?] Taylor will name the chair of the Sage School of Philosophy. Through her estate, the late Beatrice Stump, the class of '37, has donated $6.5 million, of which half will support undergraduate scholarships in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the balance will serve as an unrestricted endowment to the college. In the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, trustee Ira Drukier and his wife Gail, Dr. Gail, have given a very generous gift of $5 million to name the deanship of that college, and another $1 million to support the Johnson Museum.
Trustee emeritus Bob Appel and Helen have donated $1 million to the Johnson Museum, on top of all of their other generosity over the years and decades. In honor of her late husband, Ronald, Susan Lynch has made a gift to the Museum of $1.5 million. And finally, through the good offices of Provost Martin, the Mellon Foundation has generously approved a $2.5 million challenge grant for multidisciplinary professorships in the humanities. All of these gifts to support the arts and humanities.
In the social sciences, where Cornell enjoys enormous breadth, gifts totaling $15 million will allow us to begin to reframe the line between basic and applied research, add new professorships, and meet our goal of excellence, attracting social scientists from across the globe. To make this possible, I want to publicly this morning thank trustee Donald [? Petrone ?] for his generous gift of $5 million to name the chair of the Department of Economics.
I want to thank another anonymous donor for another $5 million gift that will endow the chair of the Department of Government. And a special thanks to Ken Kahn for his $5 million gift, very recently announced, to name the ILR deanship. So I want to thank everyone again for focusing on the arts and humanities and social sciences, and for bringing us to this enormously successful first year. Thank you very much.
Now, as generous as you've been, and despite the fact this was a record year, you know what's coming next.
I'm going to ask you to help us more. I'm going to ask you to more than double what you've already done so that we can handily get to and exceed the $4 billion goal. This is a bold request. This is a presumptuous request, and I don't take your response for granted. Philanthropy is a different process today than it was 25 years ago, when I began to work in the area.
It's a more active process. Because you are forthcoming with support that most of us wouldn't even have dreamed about 10 years ago, you want to know and you deserve to know what the return will be on your generous investment. You deserve to know what the broad goals are for our entire university, and the strategies that will enable us to reach these goals.
We have just completed a series of retreats involving the deans and retreats involving the senior staff and retreats involving the deans and the senior staff, and have reached consensus on a number of overarching goals for our university. These goals are, one, sustain and renew the exceptional intellectual quality of the university, recruit, retain, and support a diverse and talented faculty, staff, and student body.
Two, enroll, educate, and graduate the most deserving and promising students at every level, regardless of background and economic circumstance. Provide students with a distinctive education, an extracurricular experience in an integrated living-learning environment. Inspire them to be ethical and purposeful citizens of the world, with a lifelong zest for learning.
Three, enable and encourage the faculty, their students, and staff to lead in the preservation, discovery, transmission, and application of knowledge, creativity, and critical thought. Four, extend our leadership in the use of research and education to serve the public good, in fulfillment of Cornell's land grant mission and its long-standing international commitment to capacity-building in communities in the US and around the world.
And five, ensure the long-term stability and quality of the institution through careful stewardship of our financial and human resources, our natural and built environments, and our infrastructure by means of careful planning, efficiencies, the appropriate integration of operations across the university, development of new income sources, and increases in private support.
These are Cornell's goals. From these overarching goals, we have developed enabling strategies that will, in the aggregate, permit us to achieve these lofty aspirations. At the senior staff, that is the vice presidential and collegiate levels, where, as you know, the real day-to-day leadership occurs, specific initiatives, goals, and strategies have been developed in areas of importance to the university, to our community, state, nation, and world.
In January, Provost Martin will reiterate the goals I just enumerated, and present a completed strategic plan to the board of trustees. I would like to share today just one example of many that I could share of an area of specific focus, a bottoms up area of focus of the faculty and staff and students of this university-- sustainability.
The role that Cornell can play in sustainability is an issue that has been studied extensively on this campus in years, and recently re-studied in two different faculty task forces. Last February, we signed the American University and College Presidents Climate Commitment, which commits Cornell University to developing a plan to achieve climate neutrality in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, starting on our main campus here in Ithaca. And we are carrying out many other initiatives on this campus to reduce our environmental footprint and promote a more sustainable campus.
And on the academic side, where the solutions to problems that have not been solved, the answers to questions that have not even been enumerated, Frank DiSalvo, the J. A. Newman Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, who served as co-chair of one of these faculty task forces, is leading our efforts to bring together expertise from across our campus to work toward common sustainability goals as interim director of our new Center for a Sustainable Future.
We envision the new Center for a Sustainable Future as providing a way to bring together faculty and staff and students from across the university around three themes of critical importance to us and to our children's futures. Energy, including new sources, efficiency, global climate change, mitigation, and new business models.
Environment, including biodiversity, water, resource management, agriculture, and the built environment. And economic development, including poverty alleviation, water and food systems, infrastructure, institutions, and education. The center will itself seed promising research, build collaborative teams on campus, and seek partnerships actively, aggressively, with industry, government and other institutions beyond Cornell.
We are investing a significant amount in the startup of the center, and have already begun actively seeking interested partners to invest with us in realizing this critically important aspiration not only for Cornell, but for all of us. I am pleased to report we have already been given several very generous gifts to move this partnership along. $5 million from David Kroll to establish the David D. Kroll Professorship of Sustainable Energy Systems in the College of Engineering and a related programmatic fund, also in the College of Engineering. Thank you, David.
And to help launch the center itself, a gift of $1 million a year over the next three to five years from David Atkinson to move us along. Thank you, David.
Of course, we are confident that these gifts and that the provost planning and Dr. DiSalvo and others will position us to attract many additional funds. But most importantly, far more important than the funds, we are confident that these faculty, staff, and students will help solve some of our planet's most compelling problems.
As we move forward, many other enabling strategies for excellence will be forthcoming, and you will hear about them. They will be derived from and they will support our overarching goals that I introduced today. They will enable us to move forward in a carefully planned strategic fashion, as we draw together Cornell's breathtaking vast strengths and marshal our resources in ways that will fulfill our potential for contribution and impact across all aspects of our mission.
You have already done so much for Cornell. We are humbled by your generosity. But the challenges facing our world are great, and greater than we have yet faced. The time to address and ameliorate them is short. The opportunity for action is now, today. And the agent of positive change, perhaps more than ever before, can be Cornell.
Since its founding in 1865, Cornell has shaped the character and scope of higher education, and transformed countless individual lives. We now have the opportunity to achieve a significantly higher level of academic distinction and global impact. I look forward to your continuing counsel, to your wisdom, and to your support as, together, we recreate Cornell as the model institution for the 21st century. Thank you.
Thank you. It's very moving to be here today. Now, I know you're Cornellians and you're very grateful for that interesting talk, but I know what you're dying to do is mix it up with me now. So I have my Kevlar vest on. Come and get me. Let's have some questions and answers. There's microphones in there. And please, any of the pop flies come to me. Line drives go to the vice president. And I will identify him for you.
Questions, comments about anything, please. We're here to interact.
Oh, please. I'm sorry. I didn't see your hand. How are you?
AUDIENCE: Good, how are you?
DAVID SKORTON: Good.
AUDIENCE: I'll start [INAUDIBLE] wonderful to hear from you about all these things. You had relatively little to say about the situation vis-a-vis the state of New York. And I'm wondering if you could make some comments, particularly given the rather dire economic straits of upstate New York.
DAVID SKORTON: Thank you very much. I take three questions embedded in your question about New York state. And let me first choose to say that I continue, on behalf of the university, to be extremely grateful for the support that we get from the state of New York. Not only monetary support, but support in many other ways. Senator Nozzolio and I were recently at Geneva campus to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Ag Experimental Station. And I will tell you that one of the reasons that we can do so well there, so well in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Human Ecology, ILR, and across the campus is because the state has been a constant stalwart partner of ours, despite a lot of pressures, despite issues of Medicaid and many other issues that make state legislatures very difficult places to negotiate. So I want to publicly acknowledge the critical importance in generosity year in and year out of the state of New York.
Secondly, and more to the point of what you were asking, we have some very significant issues throughout the state of New York. Let's talk first about health care, where something on the order of 2 and 1/2 to 3 million New Yorkers are uninsured or underinsured. And many in this state are using expertise to begin to try to address this problem, including Cornellians at Weill Cornell Medical College and the Department of Public Health, here in the Human Ecology and elsewhere. We need to do much, much better in helping to solve the state's problems, not only because we're the land grant university, but because every prominent research university in this country gets a lot of public funds. And of our expenditures of between 2.7 and 2.8 billion, we get on the way to a billion of those dollars from public sources, federal and state. So we need to do better to solve the overall problems in the state. But specifically, upstate New York has particularly vexing problems, having to cover the waterfront of education, economic development, economic stability, maintenance of the job base, maintenance of communities. And it's a problem throughout rural America. It's a problem that I became very familiar with, and in painful ways, in the state of Iowa. It's a problem that Cornell will be working on, and is working on.
You haven't seen, we haven't seen enough concrete results yet for us to-- for me to bring that forward in this setting, but let me cite some of the leaders in the university who are working on this. First of all, in no special order, I want to mention that there are three main offices in the university who are working on this. And forgive the little bit of focus on process. I want you to know how much we take this seriously.
Steve Golding and the whole area of finance and administration works very, very carefully, especially on the local community and the Tri-County area. And a part of the interaction with the master plan will be to think about the community itself, and how decisions and expenditures we make at Cornell cannot only do the right thing for our people, but do the right thing for the community that we depend on as a partner every day. Secondly, in the academic side, of course Provost Martin's area includes many areas that are relevant to this, including through the college's extension services in ILR and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Also, Ellen [? Powell, ?] our recently hired vice provost who works in technology transfer, Ron Seeber and others. And thirdly, Steve Johnson, Vice President Steve Johnson, for Government and Community Relations oversees directly not only our state and federal relations efforts, but our interactions with the community. We are very actively involved. I personally meet in a private meeting with the mayor on a regular basis. She comes, mayor of the city of Ithaca. She comes to my office, I go to her office, as recently as two days ago. We have multiple interlocking task forces and working groups. And we are working on the K-12 system, we're working on tech transfer that could benefit the community, we're working on other kinds of community and economic development. We have not succeeded. We are very far from succeeding. We have a long hill to climb. But it's very, very important, and I hope that we'll make enough progress that I can come with a more concrete report of results. But what I'm telling you today is the intention and the effort that the senior staff and their colleagues are doing to move this along. Stay tuned for some things coming up in the near future.
AUDIENCE: Do you have any examples as of yet at this point on how you are focused on the disparity in achievement between minorities coming to Cornell and non-minorities might affect campus life or here at Cornell?
DAVID SKORTON: I'm far from an expert in this. I'll tell you a little tiny bit about it, and then I'll ask, if you have the interest, to grab me right afterwards, and I'll tell you where you can get some more information. First of all, as I very briefly mentioned, the leadership that's being shown by David Harris and others on campus, especially those in the social sciences, like Professor Harris, is an evidence-based approach.
There's been an evidence-based approach here, of course, long before I came on the scene, but a continuing sharper and more pointed focus on evidence is very important. And one results of this analysis that I mentioned is that it isn't just where the students are before they get here, it's what happens to them on this campus. So it's our acceptance of responsibility for something in the campus experience that continues to promulgate an achievement gap between groups, or doesn't ameliorate them, whichever way you want to look at it.
Of the 14 areas that were suggested by the Teagle study, which was from an aggregation of different colleges and universities, as I mentioned, three of them were already being done here, and four more were added. Because I don't want to give you bad information, I'll ask you to grab me afterwards. I'll connect you. But in the meantime, in the meantime, or if you don't have much time to talk, if you don't mind going on the Cornell website, Provost Martin and Vice President Tommy Bruce and I feel so strongly about this that that link is right on the university's home page.
You don't have to search around very hard to find it. And when you go on that diversity website, you'll find data, you'll find ideas in there in great detail. But grab me afterwards, and I'll give you some other contact information. It's a critically, critically important issue for us, and of course for the greater society. And it involves a whole variety of issues that will result in, I believe, more effective retention and narrowing that achievement gap.
By the way, I want to take just a moment, because I failed to do this, to acknowledge our alumnus Lewis Wirshba who is at Credit Suisse, and our other colleagues at Credit Suisse, who actually hosted at their headquarters recently a public rollout of the results of the Teagle Foundation study. And so we're also trying to spread the word even of just the findings of the study, as we will spread the word of whatever works or doesn't work. And once again, the importance of the evidence-based approach is that we won't stay with these four areas forever if they don't work. We have a social scientist at the helm. We will look at them. We will test the waters and see whether there's achieving or not achieving in our seeking for a better way to narrow that gap.
So please come and find me right afterwards. I promise you it won't be long. A few minutes from now, my boss is going to get up, and this is all going to be over. And then we can talk.
Others, please. Others, please.
AUDIENCE: Good morning. You haven't mentioned anything about the activities in Qatar or any of the other international stuff. Would you like to spend a few minutes on that?
DAVID SKORTON: Sure. And I chose not to do that because I talk so much about internationalization, but I'll try to make this succinct, because it's an area of great interest and passion. The university is the 13th most international university in the United States in raw numbers of international students on our campus, regardless of the size of the university. And of the 12 ahead of us, they are bigger, and some are much, much bigger than we are. So number one, for decades and decades, Cornell has been hugely international right here in Ithaca.
Secondly, we have a growing-- I believe not fast enough, but a growing pace of study abroad experiences, especially for our undergraduates. We're in 50, five zero, countries with these experiences. Now, Qatar is an amazing example of purposeful planning. The first American medical school to offer an MD overseas. The first coed institution in that country. And I had the great honor of spending a couple of days marveling at the good work going on by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.
Many people are responsible for that success. I want to cite the vision of Tony [? Gato ?] and Sandy Weill. I want to cite the ongoing work of Dean Dan Alonso. I want to cite the ongoing work of Steve Cohen, who's here, of David Hedger, Mary Opperman, and many others who work between the campuses to make this a success. But the most important thing is the quality of the students and what they are achieving. Our first graduating class is going to be on May 8th, 2008.
And you know, I can't tell you exactly how successful the medical school is because we've got to see the placement of those graduating MDs. But I will tell you, based on what our colleagues from Weill Cornell tell me so far, they're doing indistinguishably from the students in New York City at Weill Cornell Medical College on the standardized tests leading up to getting their MDs. And I can tell you they're a very, very bright crew.
I have a habit for decades of giving my own medical students copies of the complete works of Sherlock Holmes because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a physician trained at University of Edinburgh, and Sherlock Holmes is modeled after Joseph Bell, a surgical teacher he had at Edinburgh. And so I blew into Doha thinking I was going to teach them a lot of stuff. And I'm sitting there. He said, yeah, we know, Sherlock Holmes, yeah, we know, Joseph Bell. Fascinating, what's next. So--
--so what can I tell you, they're Cornellians. Now, beyond the medical school's activities in Qatar, the medical school is doing fabulous, important work in Tanzania and elsewhere. But the real, real breadth of international activities that you will see from this campus is breathtaking. I'm just going to name one college. It's always dangerous to do that, but we have limited time. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has not only educated and trained students and scholars and postdoctoral scholars and agriculture workers of all stripes around the world, but it has been a very strong partner in the Green Revolution in the developing world.
In January, when I had the honor of representing Cornell in India, we met with four different groups of students, four groups of Cornell students who were in India at the time. And the groups that were associated with CALS activities were actually in the field shoulder to shoulder, learning about international agriculture, teaching their peers.
In my commencement speech last May, I asked that we take leadership in a sort of a new kind of Marshall Plan, to use higher education as a capacity builder in the world. And it's beginning to gain a bit of traction around the country. And I hope some months from now, you'll hear more about it. But thank you for reminding me to bring it up. Thank you for giving me a chance to cite the great successes in Qatar. And there was a question in the back. Yeah, there, you. Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Hi. I know that we're currently in a search for a number of senior-level dean positions, and I know there are some perceptual or real issues out there as we compete with our Ivy-level peers for dean-level people, and also faculty as we look forward. Wondering what your strategy is to address the unique advantages, et cetera, or disadvantages that may be perceived or may be real about getting the right senior people to Cornell in the right positions.
DAVID SKORTON: OK, thank you. That's a very, very serious question. First let me tell you that there is no flip or glib answer to this. This is a big, big job. Recruiting and retaining anywhere in the university is a challenge. It's especially a challenge to recruit a dean. Make no mistake about it. As I tried to mention earlier in the talk, the deans lead this university and the unit directors day in and day out. That's where the real leadership rubber meets the road, so to speak.
So the deans are guided and overseen and hired and recruited and retained by Provost Martin and her colleagues. And you hate to speak on someone's behalf, but I'm going to go ahead and do so. Provost Martin has developed a very strategic, careful approach to recruiting the deans, which begins by identifying the needs of the colleges, talking to faculty, talking to alumni, talking to people in the field, talking to others elsewhere, deans and provosts elsewhere, sizing up the competitive landscape, looking at our strengths and our weaknesses. And there are difficulties recruiting to Ithaca. Transportation in that area, unfortunately, is a real-world difficulty. And because it's a relatively small community, dual career hires are making sure that the whole family unit feels well brought in is very, very important, and part of Provost Martin's strategy.
Now, nothing gets done at a university like this without a very careful team-like approach. I talked to you about the awards that we have gotten as employer of choice by my organization, AARP, and others. And the partnership between Mary Opperman's operation and Biddy Martin's operation and the budget operation that's in the provost's office, overseen by Carolyn Ainslie and the faculty, senior faculty, and alumni, and many others who participate in developing the whole package is done in a very strategic way. As I mentioned for faculty, we want to be in a position where people are always hungering after our employees and after our students because they are so strong.
And so there will be churn. There will be turnover. There will be retirements, of course, and there will be people who choose to accept fabulous opportunities elsewhere. I am in very close touch with how the dean searches are going. They're in various stages of development. Some are being done with the help of professional search firms, some are being done without the help of professional search firms.
Of course you expect me to say this, but it is true that I am confident in the provost's strategy, I'm confident in the work of the team that I told you works together to make this a reality, and I'm most confident in the fact that these are plum positions. To be a dean at this university at this time, with this kind of support, and this kind of past and this kind of future, we will have many good candidates. But we have to choose the right one. The fit has to be optimal.
So you're bringing up a very, very important point. Keep our feet to the fire. If you have questions, write to me, write to Provost Martin. Let us know what your questions are. We'll stay in touch with you. Thank you for the question. And I can see my boss is standing up. Thank you for everything.
SPEAKER 6: Questions from the balcony.
PETER: Thank you very much, David. We look forward to working with you in the months and years to come. And I think all of you will agree with me that Cornell today is blessed with wonderful, truly wonderful leadership.
And David, I think I'm saying it correctly that I speak for everyone in this room that you can count on us. Cornell can and will soar to new heights, far above, but never so far as to be out of our sight or distant from our minds and memories. We return to Cornell with pleasure, and acknowledge our commitment to give back. I thank each of you here this morning for your efforts to ensure that Cornell remains the preeminent university, distinguished and democratic, as it has been since its founding.
For now, our charge is to provide the president with our thoughts about the vision and the goals that he has just shared with us. Examine them, please, in your assigned discussion groups, and give him your thoughts about how we might best implement them. This concludes the joint meeting of the board of trustees and the university council. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend here on campus. The meeting is adjourned.
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Cornell President David Skorton speaks to trustees and council members about successful fundraising, advancements in diversity and outreach and the progress of the university during Trustee/Council Weekend Oct. 19.