ROBERT HARRISON: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the 66th joint meeting of the Board of Trustees and the Cornell University Council. This morning it is my honor to welcome President Hunter Rawlings and his wife Elizabeth. Hunter?
And my immediate predecessor as the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Pete Meinig and his wife Nancy, who are proud grandparents.
Pete and Nancy are proud grandparents of a freshman in the College of Engineering. Congratulations.
The past chairman of the board, Harold Tanner.
Our provost, Mike Kotlikoff. Mike.
And last but certainly not least, my wife Jane, who is joining me at Trustee Council weekend for the 18th time.
Unfortunately, my daughter, Justine, who is a senior in the arts college, had a better offer this morning and couldn't be here. But I do hope that she will join Jane and me at another official Cornell ceremony called graduation next May.
Thank you, everyone, for being here. And a very special welcome to all 700 trustees, council members, and guests. Welcome.
Before introducing the new members of the Board of Trustees, I want to recognize three very special Cornellians. First, I want to take a moment to salute Frank Rhodes, who will celebrate his 90th birthday with us tomorrow, at the--
We will celebrate this at the Frank Rhodes symposium here in the Statler tomorrow. And as we all know, Frank is a distinguished scholar, a gifted orator, and one of the truly great presidents in Cornell history. As president, Frank was a role model for other university presidents across the country.
But he's also humble, so he did not want us to go overboard with a big party tomorrow. No balloons, no champagne. He did agree to Cornell ice cream cake after the symposium, and also that we could plan a very big party for his 100th. Frank--
Frank, if you are watching online, we look forward to celebrate with you tomorrow and again in 2026. Happy birthday from all of us.
On a much more serious note, I also want to recognize provost Mike Kotlikoff. Mike did not sign up for two simultaneous and intense jobs last year, when he became our provost. But the very sad circumstances surrounding Beth Garrett's health required superhuman effort. And that is precisely what Mike delivered as provost and as acting president early this year.
I spoke with Mike almost daily during the difficult period in the early part of this year, and he was always steady-handed, clear-thinking, willing to do whatever the university needed, and completely respectful of Beth.
Hunter is the other person to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude. His unflinching willingness to return to Cornell for the third time when the university needed an experienced leader with intimate knowledge of the Cornell community is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Mike and Hunter, I want to thank both of you personally and institutionally for extraordinary devotion.
Cornell is very fortunate to have both of you at the helm. Now it is my honor to introduce the nine newly-elected members of the Board of Trustees, who are joining us this morning as trustees for the first time. These are exceptional, engaged, and loyal Cornellians, and it is my privilege to welcome them to the university's governing body. Please stand when I call each of your names.
First is David Breazzano, MBA class of 1980. David?
OK. I'll have to be clearer on instructions for newly-elected members of the board next year.
I will mention that David is the co-founder, president, and chief executive officer of the DDJ Capital Management firm, and he's got over 35 years of experience investing in securities at the lower tier of the credit markets. I hope this experience will not be necessary at Cornell, which fortunately has a strong investment grade rating.
David has spent a great deal of time serving the Johnson School over the years. He was inducted into the Johnson Hall of Honor in 2013, the highest recognition that can be bestowed on any member of the Johnson community. And he's currently chair of the Johnson Advisory Council. David resides in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and has three sons, Jeremy, Michael, and Matthew, all graduates of the Johnson School.
Second is Dara Brown. Dara has followed instructions. Thank you.
Dara is serving as the graduate and professional student-elected trustee. She graduated from the arts college in 2013, and is currently a second-year student in the law school. As an undergraduate, Dara was heavily involved in community service and in women's issues.
She co-chaired the alternative breaks program and served on the student assembly, where she fought for more inclusive culture and more accessible campus. In addition to the other committee assignments that Dara has, she has been hard at work as a member of our presidential search committee to help us find a replacement for Hunter Rawlings as quickly as possible, as Hunter always reminds us. Welcome to the board, Dara.
Third is Chad Coates. Chad?
Chad is our new employee-elected trustee. He's serving as the assistant dean of admissions and advising in the College of Arts and Sciences. Chad has an MBA and a PhD in higher education, with a particular focus on comparative international higher education.
He has represented Cornell at a number of international locations, and I understand that he has a personal goal of 50 by 50, visiting 50 countries by age 50. Chad is also a member of the presidential search committee, and if our next president prioritizes Cornell's role as the land grant university to the world, Chad may achieve his goal much sooner than 50 years old. Welcome to the board, Chad.
Fourth is Alex Hanson. Alex?
Alex graduated from Arts and Sciences in 1987, and is a senior officer of TGS Management, a financial investment firm that focuses on quantitative strategies. At Cornell, Alex has been deeply involved in the arts and sciences. He's been involved with the Arts and Sciences Advisory Council, and has chaired the college's major gifts committee.
He's been instrumental in advancing new pedagogical techniques through technology, like flipping the classroom, and more generally supporting Dean Ritter with her strategic agenda for the college. Alex lives in Pennington, New Jersey, with his wife and classmate, Laura, hotel class of '87, and their three children, Eliza, Abby class of '16, and Perry class of '19. Alex, welcome to the board.
Fifth is Katrina James, Human Ecology class of 1996.
And an alumni-elected trustee. Katrina currently runs college and career programs at the Harlem Children's Zone, an amazing NGO in Harlem. Before that, she was a corporate lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom in New York City.
Katrina is well-known to virtually all of us, as she has served three terms as chair of the Cornell University Council-- as many times as Hunter has served as president. Katrina has also led the Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations, the Black Alumni Association, and the class of 1996. Katrina, thank you for your extraordinary service to Cornell, and welcome to the board.
Sixth is Bruce Lewenstein. Bruce?
Bruce is a faculty-elected trustee and professor of science communication, with appointments both in CALS and in Arts and Sciences, where he currently chairs the Department of Science and Technology Studies. Bruce was professionally trained as a journalist and academically trained as a historian of science, and much of his work involves helping scientists practice public engagement. He's been very, very active in campus governance, including service as speaker of the university faculty senate and numerous other university, graduate school, and college committees. And Bruce is currently a member of the presidential search committee as well. Welcome to the board, Bruce.
Seventh is Pamela Marrone, CALS class of 1978.
Pamela is also an alumni-elected trustee and a scientist in the area of bio-based products, like biopesticides, bioherbicides, biofungicides, and biofumigants. I can't believe I said that.
She has over 40 patents in her name, and is a serial entrepreneur and founder of companies. For the past 10 years, Pamela has been the CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations. At Cornell, she was the 2001 recipient of the CALS Distinguished Alumni Award. And Pamela lives in Davis, California, with her husband and classmate Michael Rogers, Human Ecology class of '78. Welcome to the board, Pamela.
Our eight new trustee is Girish Reddy, master of engineering from 1978.
And an MBA from 1980. And although Girish is currently a partner of Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts, and co-founder of KKR Prisma, which is their hedge fund business, I will always think of Girish as my former partner at Goldman Sachs. At Cornell, Girish has served the University Council. He's served on the university's major gift committee, and for the past several years, as a member of the Trustees Investment Committee. He lives in New York City with his wife Rasika and son Jai, who graduated from the arts college in 2011. Welcome to the board, Girish.
Our ninth and last trustee is Jonathan Zhu, JD class of 1992, in the back.
I'm told that Jonathan actually came to Cornell to pursue a PhD in English literature, but got lost in Myron Taylor Hall in 1990 and never made it out until graduation from the law school in 1992. Jonathan has been a managing director of Bain Capital Asia for the past 10 years. And before that, he ran Morgan Stanley's China business. And given our important and growing presence in China, we are thrilled that Jonathan has agreed both to join the board of trustees and also Cornell's China advisory board. Thank you, Jonathan. Welcome to the board.
I look forward to working with all nine of you for the next four years. And may I please have a round of applause for all of the newly-elected trustees?
Before introducing the chair of the Cornell University Council, let me give you a very brief update on two items at the very top of the board of trustees' agenda. First, there is the ongoing search for the next president of Cornell. As you know, the presidential search committee, chaired by Jan Rock Zubrow, began its work last spring by holding meetings with faculty, students, employees, and representatives of the Ithaca community, to understand the qualities that they wanted to see in our 14th president. And based on this listening tour, the search committee-- which includes trustees, administrators, faculty, students, staff, and alumni-- developed and published a formal presidential search statement, essentially a position description.
And we reviewed the resumes of more than 300 possible candidates from all over the world. After narrowing the universe to an outstanding pool of extraordinarily qualified candidates, we have spent the last five months holding multiple rounds of in-person interviews. The committee is now in the late stage of interviews and reference checks and background checks for a group of finalists, and I expect we will have an announcement well before the end of the calendar year.
Second, I would like to mention Cornell Tech. I toured the site on Roosevelt Island last week, and it is more spectacular than ever. The first three buildings are no longer skeletons, but have skin and real personalities. I went inside the Bloomberg Center, the first academic building, and the views of Manhattan are so extraordinary that I'm actually concerned about whether the students and faculty working there will be able to concentrate on technology.
Construction is on schedule, and we plan to move from the Google building to Roosevelt Island next August. And by the way, we currently have 200 students studying in the Google building, and we have 195 alumni. Our development team is thrilled with the fact that this is the last year that Cornell Tech will have more current students than alumni. Progress is very, very exciting.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce the new chair of the Cornell University Council, Enrique Vila-Biaggi, class of '94, from the College of Engineering. Enrique is from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and despite being 800 miles from Ithaca, he has always made time to get involved here and at home. He has been an active member of the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network for many years, and is its past chair of the advisory committee. He joined the Council 10 years ago and has proudly and graciously served in every capacity that Cornell has asked of him. When alumni affairs staff describe Enrique, they say he is funny, smart, humble, and devoted to Cornell almost as much as he is devoted to his family. He and his wife Rosalyn are the parents of three daughters, something Jane and I can relate to on many levels. Let's give Enrique a warm welcome this morning, as he begins his leadership role.
ENRIQUE VILA-BIAGGI: Wow. Good morning, everyone. I want to start off this morning by thanking each and every one of you for putting your trust in me as I start my term as chair of Cornell University Council. I am humbled and deeply honored to be serving in this great institution of ours in this leadership role.
We're starting off this Council term on solid footing. Council members have outdone themselves, reaching over 90% giving participation for the second straight year. And I sincerely thank you for it. I also want to thank the Council administrative board for their 100% giving participation. I am so proud of working with you, and more importantly, of the great work we are doing together.
The theme of this year's TCAM is Cornell-- It All Starts Here, which gives us a chance to highlight Cornell's expanding impact from Ithaca to New York City and beyond. I appreciate the involvement of so many faculty members in this year's program, and congratulate Raj Chandnani, class of '95, and this TCAM planning team for developing such a wonderful program this weekend. Thank you, Raj.
Last but not least, I want to specially thank our friends and colleagues at alumni affairs-- Laura, Kat, Carole, Tina, Loreal, Matt, Mary, Staci, and Rebecca. We could not-- I repeat, we could not do this without you. So a big round of applause for them.
I tell everyone I meet that my story at Cornell was and still is a life-changing experience. You see, I was the first member of my family to hop on a plane and go to school at a university outside of Puerto Rico. Cornell became my home. It is where some of my best memories were made.
My friends became, and to this day still are, my family. My education opened so many doors for me professionally. And I can say without any hesitation that I would not be here, or where I am today, if it was not for Cornell.
However, my connection to Cornell goes way back to when I was just a young 12-year-old kid. A neighbor's sister had attended Cornell in the late 1960s. I remember looking at her car, which had an interesting sticker. It said "Cornell Alumni." It stuck with me, as I was not-- it was not a sticker that you would see often. What was Cornell? And what is an alumni?
I would see her and her car sticker frequently, and I remember that she would tell me, "Mi hijo"-- and that's "son" in Spanish-- "One day you will go to Cornell." Today, Carmen Luz Ramos is Puerto Rico's most esteemed Cornell alumna, a life member of Cornell University Council, and the only Puerto Rican to be bestowed with the Frank H. T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award.
A very good friend of President Emeritus Frank Rhodes and his wife Rosa, Carmen Luz ran both the Cornell Club and CAN in Puerto Rico for over 30 years, helping to enable contact meetings for over 70 prospective students every year, and hosting Rhodes and Rosa on their many visits to the island. To this day, she does not miss a Cornell Club event, and always brings her charm and witty comments with her.
I am honored to be following in Carmen Luz's footsteps as an ambassador to Cornell. And it fills my heart with joy to be sharing my first term as chair of Cornell University Council with another first-- my first year as a Cornell dad. I'm so proud to have my daughter Sophia be a part of the wonderful class of 2020, and even happier that she was able to wake up and join us here today. Sophia, can you stand up?
Say hi to your family.
What makes our Cornell experience so individual, yet for all, so special? There is a direct correlation between the positive effect this university has on its student body, and the way alumni respond to Cornell when called upon. My story and Carmen Luz's story are two of many that we want to begin to share with our community.
That is why this year we begin a series that we will call Council Philanthropic Spotlights, showcasing many of the people that make our university great, highlighting their unique stories and contributions to Cornell. Today, I want to mention a few of these incredible individuals, starting off with Laurie Berke-Weiss, who graduated from Cornell, from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Lori is currently recognized as a New York employment and labor law attorney at Burke-Weiss Law in New York City. Her Cornell legacy continues with her daughter Alexandra, who graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences.
As a volunteer for Cornell, Laurie has been a leader for her class, serving as president, vice president, membership chair. She has been a long-time member of CU Council, PCCW, and the ILR Advisory Council. Laurie has demonstrated her very loyal and generous support for Cornell by making a gift every year for more than 30 years running. Many areas across the university have benefited from Laurie's support, including ILR, Human Ecology, the Johnson Art Museum, Hillel, the Cornell library, and Plantations. Laurie, thank you so much for all you do for Cornell.
Susan Cheng [? Loy ?] graduated from Cornell, from the College of Engineering. Susan is currently a senior computer scientist with Adobe in Seattle, Washington, and credited with being a driving force in the development of desktop publishing software. Her two sons, Alexander and Terence, are both Cornellians. Susan is a CU Council member living in the Seattle, Washington area, and has participated and supported many Cornell programs, including the Cornell Entrepreneur Network, Cornell Family Fellows, and many activities in both Ithaca and on the West Coast. Susan and her family have chosen to direct their gifts to Cornell toward scholarships, and have supported Cornell with their gifts for more than 20 consecutive years. Susan, thank you so much for all you do for Cornell.
As one of Cornell's young alumni, Jason Kats is one of the newest members of CU Council. Jason graduated with a degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, and is currently a senior vice president of Columbia Capital, a real estate financing firm servicing the New York tri-state area. Jason is a past president of Theta Psi, and was a member of his class reunion campaign committee. Jason's generosity and support for Cornell is spread across a number of different areas that include research, scholarship, program support, wildlife conservation, and his fraternity. Jason has also made a gift in every year since graduation, a perfect record. Jason, thank you so much for all you do for Cornell.
David Pollin graduated with a degree from the School of Hotel Administration, and shares the titles of co-founder and co-president of the Buccini/Pollin Group with another CU Council member, Robert Buccini. They run a full-service real estate development and management company with offices in Washington DC, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.
In addition to being on CU Council, David's involvement with Cornell includes his roles on the Athletics Advisory Council, the Center for Real Estate and Finance Advisory Board, being a guest speaker in the Baker Program of Real Estate, and even hosting regional phone-a-thons. David has directed his generous support primarily to the School of Hotel Administration for their annual fund and scholarship, as well as to our football and track programs. David's loyal support for Cornell also spans more than 20 consecutive years. David, thank you so much for all you do for Cornell.
We here are all like Laurie, Jason, Susan, and David. As ambassadors to this great university in this time of change, it is more important than ever to be leaders, to inspire, to inform and engage our great community and beyond. I encourage each and every one of you to join us in this journey, helping us shape the future of this amazing institution, this home we all call Cornell. Thank you very much.
And now it is my privilege to present a special recognition to a distinguished alumnus, our past Council chair, Jay Carter. Jay, can you come up to the podium, please?
And it reads, "J. W. Carter, '71, M. H., '72." An inspiring volunteer leader and quintessential Cornellian, Jay Carter has made a profound impact on the university and galvanized alumni in service to their alma mater. Through his remarkable dedication, he has led efforts to enhance the engagement of alumni and volunteers, most recently serving as chair of the Cornell University Council. He's a former chair of the Council Ambassador Program, and a member emeritus of the College of Engineering Advisory Council.
Jay helped create the Cornell Varsity Club, and as chair of the Athletics Alumni Advisory Committee spearheaded a Cornell financial aid initiative for recruited athletes that has increased Cornell's ability to compete successfully for top athletic talent. He rallied his fellow alumni to sustain Cornell's beloved tradition of sprint football, forming an alumni association dedicated to its support, and serving continuously as its president since 1975. Jay has also remained dedicated to the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network for many years.
A retired telecommunications executive, he's a foremost benefactor and builder of the university. Cornell University salutes Jay for strengthening the university's alumni community and advancing the university for the benefit of its students and the greater good. For his 45 years of devotion and service, highlighted by his good-hearted nature and broad expertise, Cornell University honors Jay Carter.
ROBERT HARRISON: Thank you, Enrique, and congratulations, Jay. Last spring, I saw the personification of devotion, loyalty, leadership, and humanity in one man. Hunter Rawlings was preparing to retire from the presidency of the Association of American Universities, following successful careers as president of Cornell, president of the University of Iowa, and before that, as a distinguished professor of classics.
I knew Hunter was looking forward to returning to the classroom this fall, this semester, to teach Greek to undergraduates at George Washington University, and to spend more time traveling to Greece with Elizabeth. After Beth Garrett passed away, I asked Hunter to return for a second time, and he said yes, I will do what I have to do for Cornell.
I am personally in awe of this man, and none of us should underestimate what he continues to contribute to this great university. Because Hunter was willing to return to Cornell, we are benefiting from the leadership of one of the nation's premier advocates for higher education. Hunter has been working with Mike Kotlikoff and university leadership in the colleges to build on our strengths in support of our core priorities-- investing in the faculty, investing in research, rethinking the curriculum, and leveraging the amazing potential that Cornell Tech and Weill Cornell bring to the entire university, not just to the New York City campuses.
Fittingly, this is the 20th anniversary of the Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholars Program. This program supports a highly selective group of up to 200 undergraduate students annually, from all colleges, to engage in research. At the heart of the program is a dynamic student-faculty partnership that attracts the best and brightest undergraduates, immerses them in research, nurtures them through faculty mentorship.
In addition to this legacy, which addresses the core of Cornell's academic mission, Hunter is pushing all of us to explore the issues facing what he calls America's big tent of post-secondary education. In fact, for the first time since I've been chairman of the board, the trustees have been given a reading assignment. At this afternoon's board meeting, Hunter will lead a discussion to get us thinking about the most significant issues facing higher education in America today. I just hope he doesn't call on me, because the dog ate some of my reading materials.
Before bringing Hunter to the podium, let me say one more thing. I've done some research on this, and I am pretty sure that Hunter is only one of two college presidents in the history of higher education to serve as president of the same university on three separate occasions. I'm also quite sure that he is the only one taller than 6 feet 7 inches ever to play that role.
President Rawlings, you are a Cornell treasure. Thank you for your unprecedented service to this great institution. We are deeply grateful. Please join me in welcoming President Rawlings.
HUNTER RAWLINGS: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm really happy to be back. Elizabeth's really happy to be back. There are a lot of reasons why we're so happy to be back, but they mostly have to do with you all in this room. We have a lot of friends here. We have a lot of colleagues. It's a delight to be back.
For me, it's wonderful to be back in the classics department, which is a very great department. I call it my pagan department. And my friends in classics refer to my return to Cornell as the third coming.
So there are a lot of Rawlings jokes running around, and that's just one of them. This morning, I'd like to give you my perspective on Cornell, having been immersed for the last five years in American higher education in general at the AAU in Washington DC, which is a collection of 62 leading research universities. That has given me a different viewpoint from which to see Cornell. And I hope this morning I can make a few points that give you a sense of that viewpoint and might help paint the way forward.
There's no doubt today that as a group, American research universities are the best in the world, by a very large margin. They generate the ideas that lay the foundation for innovation, both immediate and longer-term. They educate future leaders, not only of this country, but of many countries around the world, because the world now comes to our universities for higher education. And they contribute to the greater good, because they serve public purposes, not just private purposes.
Let me give you a tangible example. This is something I learned to do in Washington when presenting to Senate committees. I didn't know what to say in the first place to those committees about how one should advocate for research in the federal agencies that support it, like NIH and NSF and the Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture. But I did learn after a while the best way of doing it.
And that was to take this out of my pocket, and hold it up, and ask the senators if they own one of these. Of course they all do. And then I said, mine is made by Apple. It's a very fine company. Steve Jobs was a remarkable entrepreneur. It's a great little device.
So this device depends upon nine fundamental technologies-- SmartScreen, random access memory, central processing unit, and, look, I'm a classicist. Six others.
Now, the question is, who invented those nine technologies? Did Apple invent those technologies? How many of them did Apple invent? None. Zero.
Well, then who invented them? Professors at research universities. Who paid for those professors' research? You did. The taxpayer paid for that research, because your tax dollars went to the federal government, and then that money was disbursed on a competitive basis to the best researchers in the country.
So this device, which most Americans credit 100% to Steven Jobs, should be credited at least as much, if not more, to professors at research universities. How many Americans understand what I just said? A tiny percentage. They believe that Steve Jobs woke up one morning-- because he was, after all, a genius-- and he thought, I'm going to make an iPhone. And people are going to love it.
Well, he was a great designer and a great packager, but he couldn't even have dreamed of this device without the work done in laboratories, supported by tax dollars, at research universities. That is now the story of the American economy. That's the way it works. When you think about Google and Apple and Facebook and Twitter and all the other companies that are now blowing the socks off the rest of the world, they came out of laboratories at research universities.
So these universities are not just significant. They're now driving the American economy to a very great degree. And most people don't understand that. And the people who feel that federal dollars are wasted dollars are just way wrong, and we need to help them understand how wrong they are.
So that's just one thing that research universities do. And I don't want to dwell on it any longer, because sometimes I think we spend too much time talking about the utilitarian purposes of the university. Those are good, very good. But there are other purposes of the university that I hope to get into a little bit today that are equally or more important.
Among those universities, let's take the 62 that I represented in Washington for the past five years. Great universities, public and private. One stands as unique, and that's this one. Cornell is different from all the rest, quite different. It's a private university with a public mission, and it takes its public mission very seriously.
It is also-- and this is a point I want to make several times this morning-- it is also the only institution in the state that bridges the divide between upstate New York and downstate New York. Now think about this for a minute. The divide in New York state, which has been historic, for a long period of time is also demographic, economic, cultural, and political. Upstate is largely white, economically challenged, politically to the center-right, and heavily rural. Downstate has a highly diverse population, a booming economy, a liberal political order, and a densely urban environment. Two completely different states in one.
New York's public universities reflect that divide. SUNY, 64 campuses upstate, CUNY, 24 campuses downstate, rigidly divided into two different systems. Cornell is the only large institution that bridges that divide with enduring relationships with the state of New York and now the city of New York.
Cornell has engaged in a joint educational venture with the state of New York since our inception in 1865. As a result, the colleges of veterinary medicine, agriculture and life sciences, and human ecology, and the school of ILR have become first-rate programs of enormous benefit to the state and the world. And through Cornell Cooperative Extension we have a presence in every county in this state, and in all five boroughs of New York City, reaching an estimated 1.9 million New Yorkers a year directly, and millions more indirectly through digital and print media.
This is a powerhouse. Before now, though, we have been perceived as a university essentially located in upstate New York, though our medical school has been in Manhattan for over 100 years. With the advent of Cornell Tech, we cannot be perceived that way any longer. In 2011, Cornell and the city of New York began another joint educational venture, with each partner contributing substantial resources to extend Cornell's academic and research prowess to the heart of New York City. Cornell Tech holds the same promise of academic excellence and public benefits that Weill Cornell and our Ithaca-based colleges have manifested for years.
In fact, we already have almost 200 graduates of Cornell Tech, as you heard, and we're currently seeking bright, entrepreneurial, and highly-motivated students for the first class to occupy the new Roosevelt Island campus. Tell your friends to apply.
In addition to Weill Cornell Medicine, several Ithaca-based colleges have a presence in the city, and all will become increasingly visible with the advent of Cornell Tech. Even now, for fiscal year 2016, and listen to this figure-- 49% of Cornell's revenue is from New York City. 49% is from New York City. Yet we have not begun to take full advantage of the opportunities offered to us as a university, by being the only institution that bridges upstate and downstate. That's Cornell's challenge and opportunity for the future. Make that promise real across the divide that has always separated this state into two parts.
We want to integrate our three New York state campuses-- Ithaca, Weill, and Cornell Tech-- into a cohesive whole. We need to become one Cornell, one Cornell. If we succeed in connecting these parts, we will become even stronger academically and in research, and we'll serve the state and the world even more effectively.
Because of some very good decisions made at its conception, Cornell Tech is beginning life inextricably tied to Ithaca. All faculty appointments and tenure and promotion decisions go through Ithaca departments. This is a huge advantage for both Cornell Tech and Ithaca, enabling us to build strong departments on both campuses. To date, we've hired 29 new faculty for Cornell Tech-- seven in engineering, 11 in computer science, seven in information science and law, and four in business. And that's just the beginning.
And we get our first choices. We get our first choices for those positions because the faculty member signing up knows that he or she is signing up for both Ithaca and Cornell Tech. Cornell Tech's dean, Dan Huttenlocher, is partnering with the deans in Ithaca to land top faculty who fit Cornell Tech's mission of taking research and teaching to the public through tech transfer, outreach, and external engagement. This means direct interaction by the faculty member with organizations outside of academia-- in industry, consulting, entrepreneurship, policy work, executive education, and pre-college education, for example, in order to benefit both those organizations and the faculty member's own research.
So think of Cornell Tech as an extension of Ithaca departments into the city, but not only through the hiring of new faculty members. We want to enable Ithaca faculty members, including those from the College of Arts and Sciences, to teach and do research at Cornell Tech also, when their work fits Tech's mission. To this end, we have started, with substantial help from my friend and former board chair Pete Meinig, to create what we call the hinge project, a fund to provide incentives and seed money for Ithaca faculty to put a foot on Roosevelt Island, while keeping a foot in their Ithaca department. That is enticing to many fine faculty members who are extraordinary members of their departments here in Ithaca, but would also like access to New York City. The idea is to build bridges between upstate and downstate Cornell, to provide flexible opportunities for our faculty to extend their influence to New York City in visible ways.
Similarly, we are in the process of building closer ties among Weill Cornell, Cornell Tech, and Ithaca, particularly in research, but in other areas as well. Let me give you a couple of examples. In late August, senators Gillibrand and Schumer announced first-year funding from the National Cancer Institute for a new center on the physics of cancer metabolism, led by Claudia Fischbach-Teschl, associate professor of biomedical engineering here, and Dr. Lewis Cantley, the Meyer director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine.
The new center's goal is to combine the strengths of various interdisciplinary research groups in Ithaca, Weill Cornell, and elsewhere to gain unprecedented understanding of the biological and physical mechanisms regulating how tumors function and spread in the human body. That's the kind of collaboration that's going to make us an even greater research powerhouse than we have been.
Similarly, researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Weill Cornell, are collaborating in the hopes of discovering better treatments for lymphoma, a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic systems of both humans and dogs. As Dr. Kristy Richards, who has a faculty appointment in both colleges, explained in an interview last spring, Cornell is really perfectly poised for this. It has both a top-notch veterinary school in Ithaca, and world-class clinical trials in basic and translational research at Weill Cornell in human lymphoma research. It's a win-win situation.
Another example-- and this is an especially intriguing one-- Dr. Monika Safford, chief of General Internal Medicine at Weill Cornell, is working to establish the Cornell Center for Health Equity. Her proposal includes a rural health equity program in combination with Ithaca-based faculty and community groups up here in upstate New York-- a new idea to bring Weill Cornell Medicine up here, particularly to the poorer areas of Appalachia in upstate New York. That's something that we haven't seen before-- the city coming up here to upstate. And it's something only Cornell can do.
Earlier this week, we announced another significant development. Weill Cornell overseer Ellen Davis and Cornell trustee Gary Davis have made a $2 million gift to establish an immune monitoring corps at Weill Cornell in order to accelerate the development of immunotherapy as a weapon in the fight against cancer. A portion of their gift will fund research collaborations among investigators at Weill Cornell, Cornell Ithaca, and Cornell Tech, strengthening the critical bridges between upstate and downstate. This is, it seems to me, the kind of gift that Cornell should consider for the future as among its most important, linking the three campuses into one Cornell.
We have, of course, many other examples. The College of Human Ecology recently created the Cornell Institute for Fashion and Fiber Innovation, which bridges the fashion industry and our Ithaca-based program in fiber science and apparel design. Members of the institute include a number of fashion companies and organizations based in New York City, including the largest producer of fashion trade shows in the US.
And the department of fiber science and apparel design organizes annual student study tours of New York City. And looking ahead, the college is awaiting state approval for a new master's in fashion studies to be livered in New York City. That's the College of Human Ecology in the city of New York. Students will work collaboratively with industry partners, and take advantage of Cornell's world-renowned expertise bridging technology and fashion.
The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning's facility in New York City offers versatile, state-of-the-art studio space created by the architecture firm Gensler, whose founder is Art Gensler, Cornell class of '57. Some of you may have heard about the space from Robert Balder, class of '89, the Gensler family sesquicentennial executive director of AAP NYC during his university spotlight presentation yesterday afternoon.
All of this takes Cornell from upstate to downstate, or downstate to upstate. The ILR School has had a presence in New York City since 1948, and today its midtown offices provide support for many of its extension and outreach activities. Midtown-based extension faculty and staff in the ILR Worker Institute, for example, recently took a high-tech approach to helping day laborers-- in partnership with organizations representing such workers, a smartphone application to prevent wage theft and other labor rights violations that often keep low-wage and precarious workers in New York City from being paid for the work they do.
This gets into the heart of the city and into the heart of the problem that's afflicting this country, and that is inequality. Inequality is a problem that Cornell can work on better than any other institution in higher education. The ILR School has always been devoted to labor and labor sufferings and labor's problems. And we're proud of that. And we're proud of the fact that we have been delivering those services right in the heart of Manhattan for 60 or 70 years.
And then there's the ILR Yang Tan Institute on Employment and Disability in the third year of a five-year demonstration project called Promise, designed to improve the success of youth who receive supplemental social security income in transitioning to employment. This serves more than 1,300 youth from New York City, many of them with significant disabilities. So it's nice to talk about fancy high tech, but it's also nice to talk about helping those who really need it. And that's a big part of Cornell's mission.
Research, teaching, and outreach focused on ensuring the safety of our food supply is another strength, from the pre-harvest food safety research conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine to the new, integrated Food Safety Center housed on the Ithaca campus, to the clinical work at Weill Cornell, and to the recent game-changing investments by the state of New York in our New York state agricultural experiment station in Geneva, which is transforming that station into a hub for food system innovation. So whether it's apparel or high tech or engineering or business or law or food, Cornell is improving it.
In the College of Arts and Sciences, the Jewish Studies program, directed by Professor Jonathan Boyarin, is expanding its scope to include the Jewish experience in Europe and America, the adventure of migration, and the challenges of modernity. New York City is one of the greatest scenes of that adventure, and Professor Boyarin hopes in time to make New York's Jewish and other ethnic riches the core of a new arts college semester in New York City for undergraduates. As a first step, he's instituted a lecture series at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, inaugurated last month by Professor Ross Brann.
So these are just a few of the examples of the things that Cornell does, connecting upstate and downstate. But there's another way in which I want to refer to Cornell as one Cornell, and that is the colleges here in Ithaca. When they are collaborating with each other, Cornell is better. This year, I've asked the faculty to take on the issue of curriculum across the seven colleges in Ithaca that teach undergraduate students.
The truth is they rarely discuss curriculum together. Engineering is engineering. Human ecology is human ecology. The arts college is the arts college. And so on. Each one unto its own.
The result is the colleges have their own separate curricula, their own requirements, and they do not have a lot to do with each other. This past year, the College of Arts and Sciences began a review of its curriculum for the first time in about 15 years. That's particularly important, because when the arts college reviews its curriculum, it has an impact on all the other colleges, because they all depend on the arts college for pieces-- important pieces, foundational pieces-- of their curriculum. So when the arts college begins to think about change, the other colleges have to pay attention.
So I've asked the deans and the faculty across the Ithaca campus to examine curriculum with an eye towards each other, and to begin to talk in ways they don't normally do. Look, when you're an interim president, you can do what you want.
So as you may have noticed, many people in this country have lost their faith in liberal education. You see it everywhere. You see it in state houses. You see it among parents. You see it all through the country. Liberal education is something old and crusty and no longer worthy of pursuit.
Instead, Americans increasingly view higher education as purely instrumental. What's the purpose of higher education? Get a job. This vocational view sees college as a commodity. You purchase education the way you buy a car, and the return on investment is measured in strictly financial terms.
How much do graduates make? How much do individual majors make? What percentage of graduates get jobs? Why major in subjects that don't lead directly to a paying job?
The arts college does not see itself as a vocational school, and I don't think our other colleges do either. But it is time for Cornell to say loudly and clearly what not enough are saying, and that is that a liberal education is by far-- by far-- the best preparation you can get for your whole life, not just for your first job, but for your last job.
So what is liberal education? It's worth asking. I take "liberal"-- and you won't be surprised-- in its original Latin sense. I mean, why not?
It's an education for free people. That's what the word means in its Latin sense. It's the education that free people should have-- people who do not live in a dictatorship, but have an active role to play in the life of their society. Liberal education liberates students to think for themselves as individuals, to develop their creative capacities, and to contribute to public life, not just to earning money like a cog in a machine.
American universities live by an essential principle. Their curricula belong to the faculty. I'm going to say that again. The curriculum at American universities belongs to the faculty. Not to the administration, not to the deans, not to the provost, not to the president, and not to the board of trustees.
I am happy to say that the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences is tackling this matter with the seriousness it deserves. The college has a committee doing an in-depth review with everything on the table. And at the same time, a provost-appointed task force is looking at the humanities and arts with the same kind of close attention. And in addition, I'm happy to say the dean of the faculty, Charlie Van Loan, is organizing a forum on the curriculum and liberal education that will take place in February. This is a new thing at Cornell, to talk about curriculum across the seven colleges teaching undergraduates.
When I finish my remarks this morning, three faculty members-- Verity Platt from classics, Tracy McNulty from comparative literature, and Julia Thom-Levy from physics-- will discuss some of these issues with you. And I hope you'll be prepared for that discussion, because frankly, the curriculum for arts and sciences is an open topic. There are no rules about what ought to be in that curriculum. Everyone can indeed have an opinion about what should be in that curriculum. And you'll be hearing from three very smart faculty members who have given this a lot of thought, but they would also like to hear from you.
A university's curriculum says a lot about what that university purports to be. Stanford faculty recently published a very well-conceived report on the Stanford curriculum. And I was at the AAU president's meeting in Washington earlier this week, and Princeton's president, Chris Eisgruber, told me that Princeton is about to issue its report on undergraduate curriculum. The nation's best universities are finally getting back to what is most fundamental in their mission, and that is teaching undergraduate students and teaching them well.
So here are the questions I would ask. For tomorrow's world, what should a well-educated person know? What should she be able to do with her mind, to contribute to her society? These are tough questions, very open questions.
They're particularly pertinent now given the state of this country, where our national discourse has descended to the language of the gutter. It is a responsibility of universities to do what they can to raise that level of discourse. Here are a few thoughts.
First, we need citizens who can read closely and critically. Otherwise, they'll be easy prey for political and internet nonsense. Second, we need citizens who can reason intelligently and ethically. Otherwise, we will continue to suffer from shallow arguments and dishonest leadership. Third-- thank you.
Third, we need citizens who can speak and write clearly. Otherwise, they'll be incapable of convincing anyone else of their views. Fourth, we need citizens who can do independent research. Otherwise, they will depend upon someone else to tell them what the facts are.
Fifth, we need citizens who can analyze quantitative arguments common to math and the sciences. Otherwise, they'll be unable to assess issues of critical importance. And finally, we need individuals who have enough intellectual curiosity of their own, and lifelong desire to keep learning, because without those assets, they will not escape the vapid consumerism and celebrity culture that is all around us.
So as I see it, those are the general goals of a liberal education. It's up to the faculty to decide how the curriculum at Cornell best helps our students achieve those goals. By freeing us from our prejudices, a liberal education also helps us understand and empathize with the viewpoints of those who are not like us.
The past 18 to 24 months have confronted us with many ugly events, highlighting the racial and ethnic and class disparities in the United States. This is a great country, but we have our problems. On campuses across the country, students and others have rightly drawn our attention to the damage these events do to our sense of community and equality.
"One Cornell" also means that we are a tightly-knit group of learners with a core set of principles that unite us, such as academic freedom, equality, and generosity of spirit. I'm happy to say I see those principles evinced every day on this campus. It's a fantastic community of people learning together.
Let me conclude with a couple of personal remarks. In my first two incarnations as president of Cornell, I bent over backwards to be even-handed and disciplinarily neutral. Enough of that.
The third time around, I want to say what I think, and here's what I think. An education without the arts and humanities is like a frame without a picture. It is hollow and devoid of meaning. Human beings seek meaning, even when we are not aware of it. A lot of angst and anomie we see in our politics today stems from people's utter failure to find meaning in their lives.
What is angst? It is non-directional fear and anxiety. What is anomie? It is the breakdown of social bonds between the individual and the community.
How do you build such bonds? Religion is one way. Politics is another. I think we can safely say that both of those avenues are now fraught with problems-- not insurmountable, and they have a lot of good in them, but difficult and full of tension and controversy. They seem now to divide us more than they bring us together.
The humanities and the arts give us the results of human inspiration and imagination and deep thought. A painting by Picasso, a poem by Maya Angelou, a play by August Wilson, the tenets of Lao-Tze, the travails of Don Quixote-- these works of art enthrall us, challenge us, immerse us in the lives of other human beings, teach us empathy and self-awareness and humility. A little humility would be nice these days.
In other words, they show us all the light we cannot see in this never-ending political season. What do you do when you're not earning money or reading the latest blogs and tweets? Do you read a book, visit a museum or art gallery, go to the theater, discuss a speech, or read an op-ed? You are engaging in the arts and humanities.
I cannot tell you how many alumni of this university have told me after taking summer CAU courses that they wished they had taken those courses in literature and history and art when they were going to Cornell. And while it's never too late, as many of you know, it's much better to take those courses when you are younger.
In my own case, I rue the day I persuaded my parents to let me stop taking piano lessons. Look at the length of these fingers.
And I regret my failure to take art history at Haverford. My life has been poorer-- my life has been poorer-- for both of those decisions. I don't mean poorer financially. I mean poorer in a much more important sense. I can't play the piano, and I don't appreciate art as well as I should.
Cornell has great departments-- great departments-- in comparative literature and philosophy and history and classics and other humanities and arts. I know those departments very well. When our students fail to take their classes, they are impoverishing themselves for a lifetime. So when the faculty rethinks our curriculum, I hope it might consider putting the arts and humanities at the center of it for all Cornell students. Not that I'm telling the faculty what to do.
But how can you get a job when you spend your time reading literature and history and learning the intricacies of Greek verbs? Decades ago, when my uncles learned that I had decided to major in classics in college, they had a simple reply-- you'll never get a job. When I started a PhD program in classics, they said, you'll never get a job. When I got a job teaching classics, they said, you'll never get a real job.
Well, I'm sorry my uncles are no longer here to see me take this job for the third time.
But I would say something different from what my uncles would say. Being president of Cornell is not a job. It isn't. It's a calling, and it's a pleasure. It's an absolute pleasure. I'm surrounded by some of the smartest people in the world, some of the most generous people in the world-- and I mean you-- and by people whose lives have meaning, and who help give our lives meaning.
Thank you for being Cornellians, and thank you for having Elizabeth and me back.
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Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III delivers the State of the University Address to an Ithaca campus audience during Cornell's Trustee-Council Annual Meeting, Oct. 28, 2016.