FINN MCFARLAND: Good morning. New Cornellians, family, friends, distinguished guests, and orientation volunteers, my name is Finn McFarland. And it is my honor to be among the first to welcome you to Cornell. I am chair of the 2017 Orientation Steering Committee, a group of 14 students that have worked together for many months planning for your arrival.
We've scheduled and organized over 100 events, recruited, interviewed, and selected over 500 orientation volunteers. And together, with all of our volunteers, successfully moved over 5,000 suitcases, 15,000 boxes, and 19,500 pairs of shoes yesterday.
Please join us in giving a warm round of applause to all of our volunteers. I would like to ask you to join us in recognizing the university officials who are here with us this morning. Please hold your applause until the end. Judith Appleton, Vice Provost. Chris Barrett, Dean, SC Johnson School of Business. Kathryn Boor, Ronald P. Lynch Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Lance Collins. Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. Kevin F. Halik. Kenneth F. Kahn Dean, School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Gerald Hector, Vice President for Financial Affairs. Kent Kleinman, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Barbara Knuth, Senior Vice Provost and Dean, Graduate School.
Michael Kotlikoff, Provost. Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student and Campus Life. Joel Molina, Vice President for University Relations. Alan Mathios, Dean College of Human Ecology. Gregory Morrisette, Dean Faculty of Computing and Information Science.
Mary Opperman, Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer. Martha Pollack, President. Gretchen Ritter, Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Government. Laura Spitz, Vice Provost for International Affairs. Paul Streater, Vice President for Budget and Planning. Kate Walsh, Dean School of Hotel Administration. Lynn Wooten, David J. Nolan Dean School of Applied Economics and Management.
Also here with us are university trustees Robert Abrams and Carolyn Newman and undergraduate student elected trustee Dustin Lew. Also here with us is the president of the student assembly, Jiang Wan Kim.
In addition, I would like to acknowledge the members of the 2017 Orientation Steering Committee. They are also sitting onstage. They have been volunteering for over a year to make this coming orientation week a reality. Miranda An, [? Jatin ?] [? Barwani, ?] Brad Hunsinger, Emily Hunsinger, Nathan [? Ememur ?] [? Ahmadu, ?] Sonia Jaidka, Irvin McCollough, Ashe Singh, Katy Stanley, Feiyu Tao, Ben Rubin, and Kelly Wilson. Thank you.
The goal of the Orientation Steering Committee is to help you connect with other new students. To help you start to feel at home at Cornell and to make a week the beginning of an amazing four years here. Orientation is the opportunity for all of you, both first year and transfer students, to connect with classmates, make new friends, learn how to navigate the campus, and to begin to explore the many opportunities available for you here at Cornell.
I want to tell you a little bit about the process for me and why I am so committed to making this a good transition for all of you. Three years ago, I returned from my Outdoor Odyssey Trip, which, for those of you unfamiliar with this program, was a four-day, pre-orientation backpacking trip with six other new students and two upperclassmen leaders. Dirty, tired, and still completely soaked from hiking through the torrential downpours the day before, I met my parents on Friday morning to move into my new dorm room in Balch Hall.
The next morning, I sat in these very bleachers, ready for my college experience to begin. I honestly hadn't given much thought to academics at Cornell just yet. Like many of you, I graduated at the top of my high school class, and I was not too concerned about succeeding academically in college.
And even though my experiences away from home were limited, I also was not too concerned about moving to Ithaca without my family. I was ready for that step. What I was most concerned about at the start of orientation was making new friends.
I lived my entire life in a small Vermont town, and I had known many of my friends since preschool. Sitting in those stands, I suddenly found myself among 3,000 fellow students from all walks of life and from around the world. I was exhilarated and also terrified. If you can relate, here is some good news.
We have prepared a full schedule of events to help you meet your classmates and make connections. From the Silent Disco and Game Night for first-year students to Murder Mystery and Night at the Johnson for our transfer students, there are so many opportunities during a week to have fun, join with others, and try new things. Hopefully, you'll meet some new people in the process. And even if you don't meet your new best friend in the next four days-- I certainly did not-- a week will ease your life into Cornell.
I might not have been concerned about academics during my orientation, but I will admit that my confidence wavered after classes began. The first prelim grade offered a bit of a wake up call, and I quickly realized that I needed to find some help. My high school study habits were not enough for me here at Cornell, but luckily, help is not hard to find. And learning where to get help can start during your orientation week.
I encourage you to engage in your academic and college events so that if and when you get that same shock when your first prelim is handed back, you know where to turn. Part of succeeding is learning when and where to find help when you need it, and Cornell has many resources available to help you be successful. Take advantage of them.
You can also ask your orientation leader what resources they find most useful on campus. Ask them for advice on their favorite study spots, how they prepare for prelims, and what classes they have found most interesting. Your OL is a fantastic resource.
Finally, I'm sure deep down many of you are concerned about leaving home. And while I thought I would be fine with that transition, I ended up feeling homesick my entire first semester. What I encourage you to do during orientation, whether you think this transition will be easy or not, is to get to know your RA, your floor and suite mates, and make your room as comfortable as possible. Build a network of support in your residence hall to help soften that pit in your stomach if it creeps up over your first year here at Cornell. Eventually, Cornell will feel like home, and you will have made some new friends along the way, some for a lifetime.
Whether you are concerned about fitting in, succeeding academically, or just settling in and making Cornell your home, I encourage you to attend as many orientation events as you can over the next four days to help your fears drift away. Thank you so much. We look forward to a great week with the class of 2021 and all of our new transfer students. Welcome to Cornell.
Please join me in welcoming Student Assembly President, Jung Won Kim.
JUNG WON KIM: Good morning, everyone. My name is Jung Won Kim, and I'm the president of the Cornell student Assembly, our undergraduate student government. First and foremost, congratulations on being here. You made it. I know how hard you worked to get here and how dedicated both you and your parents had to be for you to be attending this great institution and to have woken up this morning at the time you did. It's very early.
You know, when I was accepted three years ago, my class was the most selective and diverse in our school's history. We felt so special, but the following year, the next class took that title. And the year after that, the same happened. And now you outshine us all.
You come from all 50 states and 96 countries. The people sitting to your left, right, front and back may very well end up being the future president of a nation, a Nobel Prize winning scientist, founder of a multibillion dollar enterprise, or most importantly, some of the closest and most trusted friends you will make in your lifetime.
On that subject of friends, I can't think of a better place than Cornell to make lifelong friendships. They say there's nothing more effective than suffering that brings people together.
During your time here, you and your peers will be walking across campus through months of cold, cold winter. You and your classmates will be staying up all night in Uris Library, cramming for the test next morning, only to realize that the one topic you did not review is on the exam. You and your dorm mates will be helping one another wake up at 7 AM in the morning for the course add and drop session and collectively curse when the system freezes from overload.
These instances I described may sound terrible, but I'm telling you right now, those are some of the best memories I have. [LAUGHS] Seriously.
Yeah. And the people who went through it with me are the ones I call my best of best friends. Of course, there are much more pleasant ways to make friends and find your community here as well. Cornell has over 1,000 different clubs on campus that represent nearly all interests. In fact, we even have a Squirrel Club here. I don't exactly know what they do, but we do have one if you're interested.
Not only that, our school also lives up to our founder's vision of any person, any study. With over 80 majors and 70 minors, regardless of which college you are in, you could take classes on all sorts of topics, such as oceanography, Python, and the famed wines course. I'm sure you'll love that.
You will also become acquainted with College Town and the different parts of Ithaca. The restaurants like College Town Bagels and The Nines. Areas like the Commons and Ithaca Mall are great places to relax and enjoy great food and great company.
Whether or not you find yourself initially homesick or struggling to adapt, by the time you become a senior like me, I guarantee you that you will have already found your community of friends, your favorite eating spots on campus, and unknowingly designated in your mind Cornell as your home. This really is a phenomenal school and the perfect environment to grow both inside and outside the classroom.
So take advantage of all the opportunities and challenges that our school will offer you. I can tell you right now that the only regrets I may have had during my time here are from inaction. Go try out for a club you're unsure about. Go attend talks hosted by our internationally recognized professors. Go enroll in the interesting course that's rumored to be very, very hard.
The only thing you should not do is enroll in 8:40 AM courses, because you'll definitely regret that. I'm just kidding. Those morning classes will teach you discipline beyond any you thought you had prior. And you'll get my personal respect, as well. [LAUGHS]
The only limitations that exist here are those that you set for yourselves. Don't do that. How much you get out of your time here at Cornell depends wholly on you. Learn all you can, get involved in all you can, and dream all you can. This is just the perfect place to do that. Welcome again, class of 2021, and also to our new transfer students. Have a great rest of the day. Thank you and congratulations.
And it is my absolute pleasure to introduce our Vice President for Student and Campus Life, Dr. Ryan Lombardi. The division of Student and Campus Life provides a broad array of programs and services to support students and the campus community, including athletics and physical education, Cornell Health, Office of the Dean of Students, finance and administration, Cornell career services, and campus and community engagement. Prior to joining Cornell in August 2015, Dr. Lombardi served as Vice President for Student Affairs and affiliated faculty in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University.
Dr. Lombardi received an undergraduate degree in music education from West Chester University and a master's degree in higher education from the University of Kansas. He completed a doctorate in higher education administration at North Carolina State University. In the coming months, you will likely see him at events on campus along with his wife, Dr. Carol Lombardi, and his two daughters. Please join me in welcoming Vice President Lombardi.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Good morning, and welcome. Tough act to follow, Jung. I will say. Class of 2021 and all of our new students who are here today, we are so delighted that you are here, and we're delighted to be here with you today. I do want to take a moment, once again, to thank Finn and the spectacular Orientation Committee for all of their work preparing to welcome you for carrying 19,500 pairs of shoes yesterday.
And all the activities they have planned in the coming days and weeks, I really do encourage you students to take advantage of these activities. They'll greatly help in your adjustment. And thanks also to Jung for introducing you to himself and to the student assembly. I do hope you'll take advantage of him and that group and get to know them. I think though that Jung has made it quite clear not to reach out to him in the morning. It's really not that early. [LAUGHS] We'll talk next year, after he graduates, how he feels about a 9:20 wake up call.
On a more serious note, I would like to take just a moment to acknowledge one of your classmates that tragically passed away in a swimming accident just two weeks ago today, Winston Samuel Perez Ventura died on August 5 as he neared completion of a pre-summer program here at Cornell. And in his short time on campus, Winston made a really meaningful impact on many lives-- on lives of many Cornellians, and we offer our continued thoughts and prayers to his family and friends as we grieve his death.
New students, we'll get to know each other, as Jung said, quite well over the coming years. But I have just a couple of moments with you this morning. And what I'm going to ask you to ponder comes from a conversation I had last spring with a graduating senior. He was reflecting on his own experience. We were talking about that and processing it.
And he encouraged future Cornellians, as they look forward to their experience, to ask themselves a simple question; why are you here. So that's what I'm going to ask you this morning. Why are you here?
Now, I might be guessing, actually, that you're rather asking yourself, how did I actually get here this morning, and how do I get back to my room, for that fact. Whether you came from north or west or somewhere else, you've begun to understand our campus a little bit and a lot of the appropriate amount of time to get here. And if you stopped to ask for directions, I'd be really curious to hear the various pronunciations of the name of this historic location. Just for the record, it's pronounced "shole-coff." I'll see you at our first football game.
But back to my point and to the point of the alum from the class of 2017, why are you here? Have you paused to think about this question. Because I understand the education you've had to this point might have at times felt like a bullet train that was moving at a very high speed on a set of precisely aligned rails to ensure no possibility of veering off course. Frankly, that probably felt like the only way you'd have a shot to be here today. And in most cases, probably all cases, that bullet train was not necessarily being driven by you.
But that's not the case now, students. You are now in control of this chapter of your educational journey. So what questions do you have? What problems do you hope to solve? What people do you want to meet? And what ideas do you want to debate? This is exactly how you should be thinking right now.
And while I know many of you-- and likely the parents and family supporting you-- have thought about the outcome of a Cornell education, the real value will be in the process of a Cornell education. And that requires the persistence in continually asking yourself, why am I here?
So I'm going to tell you a little story. When I was a kid, I loved playing with LEGOs. I have two older brothers, you see, and anything that could distract them from beating on their younger brother was a good thing in our house, and LEGOs provided that for us.
So what we would do, we would dump this enormous bucket of LEGOs on the floor-- you can imagine how pleased my parents were-- and we would commence to create an entire village of homes, shops, and of course, the most coveted element of our village of all, the car dealership, which was fully stocked, I might add, with our entire fleet of Matchbox cars. We made some pretty hideous villages in our day, but we also hatched some pretty creative ideas as well.
So fast forward to today. My children also love playing with LEGOs. And when we go to the store-- and yes, we've been to the Lego store in Rockefeller plaza-- we find a dizzying array of LEGOs. These include elaborate renderings of villages, vehicles, treehouses, amusement parks complete with themes and even trademarked characters.
And when you open a box of these LEGOs, they are neatly compartmentalized into bags marked with sequential numbers that correlate with encyclopedia-like instructions, so that you can open them as needed and be sure not to misplace anything. In these kits, one misstep or incorrect piece spells entire doom for the structure.
Now, I love that my kids enjoy playing with these LEGOs, and if you came to my basement and saw it, you would recognize how much I love that and how much I spoil them. But make no mistake about it. My daughters are having a very different experience with LEGOs than what I did.
They're learning to follow directions. Exceedingly well, I might add. But they are learning that if they follow a closely scripted and predetermined sequence of steps with the precise ingredients at the correlated moment, they'll build an exact replica of something that someone else created. And maybe that outcome is better than what they could have done on their own or maybe not.
But my point, Cornellians, we're about to dump a great big bucket of metaphorical LEGOs in your lap. And Cornell has the most magnificent LEGOs that you could ever imagine. The very, very best and world-renowned faculty, passionate students, dedicated staff, limitless clubs and activities and organizations and other ways for you to create your village. And it will be up to you to use your imagination, creativity, and the process of trial and error to build something magical that works for you.
Now, the outcome won't be for everyone, but it will be for you. And it will be exactly what you need because you built it to answer the question of why you are here. So Cornellians, good luck, have fun, and let me know if you need someone to run your car dealership. Thank you.
CHORUS: (SINGING) Spirit of wisdom, my candles are burning. I [INAUDIBLE] startling world, next with little learning. [INAUDIBLE] on the [INAUDIBLE] dwell. Mighty [INAUDIBLE] is Cornell.
Now as my song so much as one [INAUDIBLE] dreaming. Let then my lamp be bright and thy doors be gleaming. And let us know before doubt and darkness to dispel. Shine from the hills, Cornell.
SPEAKER 1: It is my honor to introduce our next speaker. Martha E. Pollack is the 14th president of Cornell University and Professor of computer science, information science, and linguistics. She took office on April 17, 2017, and we look forward to celebrating her inauguration next Friday.
She was previously provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan. As the university's chief academic officer and chief budget officer, she was responsible for an academic enterprise that includes 19 schools and colleges.
As provost, she encouraged innovation in teaching and learning, fostered excellence in research and scholarship, and expanded diversity and access. Prior to becoming provost, President Pollack served the University of Michigan as Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs and as Dean of the School of Information.
She first joined the faculty at Michigan in 2000, having previously been a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh, and a computer scientist in the Artificial Intelligence Center at SRI International. A computer scientist with research expertise in artificial intelligence, President Pollack is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
She earned a bachelor's degree in linguistics at Dartmouth College and an MS and PhD in computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania. Please welcome President Pollack.
MARTHA POLLACK: Class of 2021 and new transfer students, welcome. It is my absolute pleasure to welcome all of you here. We're newbies together. As Finn mentioned, I started in April. So we're going to go through a lot of firsts together, our first homecoming, our first Dragon Day, our first Slope Day, although I don't know that I'll be out there on the slope with you.
We'll going through a lot of Cornell experiences together. I'm so happy to welcome you. You're always going to be a very, very special class to me.
I also want to welcome your parents and the other family members who are here with you. Having sent my two children to college, I suspect I know how you feel; proud, joyful, and more than a little anxious, wondering what the next four years are going to be like for your child and what they're going to be like for you. Well, each of your children is going to experience Cornell in a somewhat different way. But each of them, I trust, is going to be changed for the better by the experience.
The novelist Richard Russo described it this way. He said, "sending your kids off to college is a lot like putting them in a witness protection program. If the person who comes out is easily recognizable as the person who went in, something has gone terribly, dangerously wrong."
Now, Russo is of course referring to the intellectual and the emotional growth that happens in college. A university education succeeds precisely when it enables students to develop new interests, new passions, and new ways of looking at the world. So it's not always easy, but as parents, one of the most important things you can do for your new college student is to provide them the freedom to explore all-- all that Cornell has to offer. Let them soar, stumble, pick themselves up, and soar again, eventually emerging as educated adults of whom you will be very proud.
Students, you're going to learn a lot at Cornell, but you won't just learn facts or theorems or lab techniques or another language or how to code. Yes, those skills are enriching. They can be helpful in reaching your career goals, and you will learn them here, but at Cornell, you will develop in many, many dimensions, all important to becoming an educated citizen.
Do You remember The Wizard of Oz? How many people have seen the movie The Wizard of Oz? Good. Good. It is, to this day, one of my favorite movies.
I remember, as a small child, that was the one day of the year when I was allowed to watch TV-- I see people nodding-- watch TV in front of the TV, eating my dinner off a TV tray. That was before Hulu and Voo Do, and on-demand. And you could only see it one day a year. Your parents will understand this, even if you don't.
So we got to have dinner in front of the TV while we watched The Wizard of Oz. And one of the reasons I love Oz, beyond those songs that just get stuck in your head, is that it seems to me it could be a metaphor for the college experience. As Dorothy's says to her dog when they first arrived in Oz, "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."
Going off to college can feel a lot like that. You've come here from around the country, you've come here from around the globe, you've come with many backgrounds and interests and points of view. But Cornell is going to open new vistas that will be unlike anything you've experienced so far.
There isn't going to be a yellow brick road to follow to Emerald City, but just like the characters that Dorothy meets on her journey; the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, Cornell is going to help you develop a brain, a heart, and courage to thrive in the world.
Now, first the brain. That's what most people instinctively think of when they think about college. Here at Cornell, you will receive a world-class education. You'll learn to think critically, to communicate carefully, to assess information and evidence, to adhere to very high standards of academic integrity, to appreciate art and music and literature. And you'll learn how to keep learning after you've graduated so that you can keep up with the expansion of knowledge and so that you can keep contributing new knowledge to the world.
But developing your heart is also a fundamentally important part of Cornell. As a land grant university, Cornell is committed to community engagement and to caring about our world. As students, you'll find many ways to pursue activities that make a difference in your world. Starting here at orientation, where students like Finn and Jung are going to help you learn the ins and outs of the university, to activities offered by the Cornell Public Service Center, which offers a wide variety of volunteer programs and learning opportunities, including those pre-orientation service trips that some of you completed on Thursday, to the Engaged Cornell Initiative, where faculty, staff, students, and community partners collaborate on research and teaching to address issues that are important at home and around the world.
And as already been mentioned by the previous speakers at Cornell, you're also going to discover wonderful friendships. Friendships that will last a lifetime. A Cornell education really is an education with a heart.
And finally, and in some ways maybe most importantly, you'll develop courage. You'll learn to challenge yourself, to take intellectual risks, to speak up. You're not always going to agree with your classmates or your faculty members.
An academic community is one in which ideas must be probed and challenged and pushed, in which honest and open discussion of controversial topics must take place. We don't shy away from such discussions here. In fact, we embrace them. But we also strive for civil discourse. We strive to listen respectfully to one another and to respond thoughtfully and thereby to learn.
As was true in The Wizard of Oz, there is no wizard at the end who will help you develop your brain, your magic-- your brain, your heart, and your courage. There is no magic. Education, like so much else in life, is a do-it-yourself project. What there are are dedicated, brilliant faculty and staff who will work with you and guide you and push you. And there are your fellow students, who will also be an important source of learning and support.
So to get the most out of your time here at Cornell, here's a few pieces of advice. First, find opportunities to interact directly with your professors. This is a big university, but you can make it a small university for yourself. Participate in class. Ask questions. Go to office hours. Seek out your professors.
Sometimes this might seem scary, but remember, one of your goals is to develop intellectual courage. And also, when it seems scary, keep in mind the fact that we became professors because we like interacting intellectually with all of you. That's why we chose this line of work. So seek us out.
Secondly, make it a point every day to seek out people, from your students, from the faculty, from the staff, who come from different backgrounds than yours and who have different perspectives and life experiences, and learn to listen carefully and respectfully to them. Your education here will be enriched by the many interactions you have, and that is especially true when you make the effort to have real, meaningful conversations with people who do not look, talk, or think the same way you do. I believe that the ability to communicate across difference may be one of the most important things that we need people to learn at this moment.
Finally, don't be afraid to take risks. You may not succeed at everything you try. In fact, I don't think anyone gets through college without some kind of failures. But figure out what you can learn from your failure, and figure out how to move on.
And when you're done, you will embody the Scarecrow's brain, the Tinman's heart, and the Lion's courage. Because like them, you've had all these qualities all along, just waiting to be developed. We also hope that like Dorothy, you'll come to believe that there's no place like home. Where by home, you now mean two things, the place you came from, and your new home, Cornell.
Class of 2021 and new transfer students, welcome to the magical journey ahead. Welcome to Cornell.
And I now invite you to join the Cornell Chorus and Glee Club and all of us here on stage in singing the Alma Mater. The words are printed on your program.
CHORUS: (SINGING) Far above Cayuga's waters, with its waves of blue, stands our noble Alma Mater, glorious to view. Lift the chorus, speed it onward, loud her praises tell; hail to thee, our Alma Mater! Hail, all hail, Cornell!
Far above the busy humming of the bustling town, reared against the arch of heaven, looks she proudly down. Lift the chorus, speed it onward, loud her praises tell, hail to thee, my Alma Mater, hail, all hail, Cornell.
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President Martha Pollack addressed thousands of new students, along with their families and friends, during the New Student Convocation on Aug. 19 at Schoellkopf Field.