BEN RUBIN: Hello. Good morning , new Cornellians, family, friends, distinguished guests, and orientation volunteers. My name is Ben Rubin and it is my honor to be among the first to welcome you to Cornell. Together with Miranda An, I'm a co-chair of the 2018 Orientation Steering Committee, a group of students that have volunteered their time for many months to plan orientation. We've developed events for new students and recruited and trained several hundred student volunteers to serve as orientation leaders and provide event support. You probably saw some of this yesterday when we successfully moved over 5,000 suitcases, 15,000 boxes, and 19,500 pairs of shoes.
Please join us in giving a warm round of applause to all of our volunteers.
I would like to invite Dustin Liu, your student representative to the Board of Trustees to join us in recognizing the university officials who are here with us this morning. Please hold your applause until the end. Thank you.
DUSTIN LIU: Good morning everyone and welcome to Cornell. Thank you, Ben, for the kind introduction. It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to introduce our platform guests. Please raise your hand as your name is called to be recognized.
Robert Abrams, Trustee. Stephen Ashley, Trustee. Rachel Bean, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education College of Arts and Sciences. Kathryn Boor, Dean College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Lance Collins, Dean College of Engineering. Kieran Donaghy, Interim Dean College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. Rachel Dunifon, Interim Dean College of Human Ecology. Kevin Hallock, Dean School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Michael Kotlikoff, Provost. Jeremy Kruser, Trustee. Bruce Lewenstein, Trustee. Dustin Liu, Trustee.
Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student and Campus Life. Greg Morrisett, Dean Computing and Information Sciences. Carolyn Neuman, Trustee. Joel Malina, Vice President for University Relations. Lisa Nishii, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Martha Pollack, President. Paul Streeter, Vice President for Budget and Planning. [INAUDIBLE], Trustee. Charlie Van Loan, Dean of Faculty. Kate Walsh, Dean School of Hotel Administration. Lynn Wooten, Dean Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Varun Devatha, President of the Student Assembly.
In addition, I would like to acknowledge the members of the 2018 orientation steering committee. They are also sitting on stage. They have been volunteering their time for a year to make much of this orientation week a reality. Please raise your hand as your name is called to be recognized.
Thank you so much.
BEN RUBIN: Hello and welcome to Cornell. Again, my name is Ben. And together with Miranda, we are the co-chairs of the Orientation Steering Committee or OSC. All of the members of the committee have been working for the past year to plan exciting orientation events that are intended to introduce you to your peers, to other members of the Cornell community, and to Cornell as a whole. We hope that the orientation program will help you begin your transition to life at Cornell and give you a little nudge forward as orientation ends and classes begin.
We know that you'll contribute to our university in incredible ways and we cannot wait for you to learn and grow as well. We also know, however, that you might not feel like you're in a position to do that right now. You're in an entirely new place. You probably don't know anyone here besides your parents who are leaving in a few days, or if they're like my parents, they might try and stay a little longer. And there's a good chance you don't know what to expect.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you exactly what to expect. The beauty of college life is that everyone experiences it differently and it will take you to unexpected places. When I was in your position, I was terrified. Now, four years later, I managed to talk someone into letting me onto the stage to speak to you all. I know, however, that I would never be this close to graduation without the support of many incredible people.
MIRANDA AN: So here are some hopes that we have for you during orientation. First, meet different people. Each of you is coming from different backgrounds, experiences, and accomplishments, each amazing in their own way. The best part is that you have the opportunity to share your story with others. Take the time to get to know everyone around you, your RA your floor mates, your suite mates, your professors, people in your classes, coaches, instructors, staff members, friends that share similar interests with you, and especially those that you perceive you may have little in common with.
Sit with someone in your new favorite dining hall that you've never met before. Introduce yourself to someone sitting next to you on the first day of class or attend an orientation event with friends that you just met. Everyone here is looking to make new friends so put yourself out there. Branch out and meet as many new people as possible.
But don't forget to make time for yourself. Orientation can be overwhelming, filled with hellos, goodbyes, new experiences, and mixed emotions. Be good to yourself. Write in a journal. Go for a walk around BB lake. Get adequate sleep. And embrace every part of the experience.
BEN RUBIN: Second, we ask that you keep an open mind to new experiences. As you embrace the Cornell experience, you'll be faced with new, exciting, and frightening opportunities. Before I came to Cornell, a close friend told me to try things that made me nervous, but not the ones that made me anxious. That guiding thought, the willingness to challenge yourself without pushing yourself too far will hopefully help you to keep an open mind to new experiences while keeping yourself safe. Being open to new ideas and experiences will help you to learn about yourself and grow as a person as well.
MIRANDA AN: Next, try something that you've never done before. Yes, it's cliche. But step out of your comfort zone. Our comfort zones are where we feel safe and secure. And they are wonderful in their own way. But much more where we find our excitement, fulfillment, self-discovery, and purpose extends beyond our comfort zones and into our challenge zones. Orientation may be challenging for many of you in different ways.
And each time you take a step out, you gain more insight and confidence and you like we need some truly wonderful people along the way. Participate in the silly icebreaker games, venture out to unfamiliar areas on campus, go to an event you never imagined yourself at, and bust a crazy move at silent disco. The act of trying something new over these next few days is something that you can all be proud of.
BEN RUBIN: Finally, also know that as you challenge yourself during orientation and throughout your time at Cornell, there are wonderful people and resources across the campus to support you. The members of the OSC and your orientation leaders are here to answer questions, all under the umbrella of New Student Programs. Officers like Cornell health, Career Services, and the Night Ride and Walk-In Service can offer support in the health, professional, and academic fields. And over time, you'll form support networks made up of incredible friends, Cornell Dairy Bar Ice Cream, and great mentors.
MIRANDA AN: So we hope that you take advantage of this wonderful opportunity here at Cornell. You've worked so hard to get here and you belong here. Whether this transition to college life is easy or difficult, build a network of support in your residence hall, in your major, in your classes or clubs to help soften the pit in your stomach that might creep up your first year away from home. Eventually, Cornell might feel like home and you've made some great new friends along the way, some for a lifetime. So explore as many orientation events as you can over the next six days. The events are designed to help ease any fears that you might have about fitting in, succeeding in academics, or settling in and making Cornell your home.
Your personal exploration doesn't end with orientation. It begins. Your personal growth and discovery will continue throughout your Cornell career. You'll soon discover that a love of learning extends beyond the classroom walls. It's learning how to communicate with others, to advocate for yourself, to stand up for what you believe in, and most importantly, to learn a little bit about yourself along the way. So we look forward to a great O Week with the class of 2022 and all our new transfer students. Welcome to Cornell.
Thank you. Please join us in welcoming Student Assembly President Varun Devatha.
VARUN DEVATHA: How's everyone doing? Oh my god. Sorry. That was loud. How's everyone doing? What? OK. All right. Well, congrats. You made it. All of those AP courses, extracurricular activities, and part time jobs finally paid off. And it wouldn't have been possible without the parents and mentors that supported you throughout your journey. You're here because you can do the impossible. Your class may be filled with mountain climbers, cancer researchers, signed rappers, or public policy makers. I know this because these are my classmates.
My name is Varun Devatha and I'm the president of the Student Assembly, Cornell's undergraduate student government. A few years ago, I was sitting right where you are today, an eager first year from the middle of nowhere Ohio. I had attended a small military high school with no close friends here to guide the way. I was definitely nervous with classes quickly approaching to the point where I was studying Python online so that I could ensure a good start to my college career. And like many of you, I wasn't sure if I was qualified to be at a place like Cornell. But it's important to realize that regardless of where you come from or what your high school experience was, you belong here.
I apologize. My pages are a little wet. It's raining. Recently, a friend told me about the smile principle, a way he lived life. Smile. Something more in life's experience. Now, I'm pretty sure he made this up. I tried googling it, found one hit, and that was very difficult. But the philosophy surrounding smile was this. You will always have class or work, but there's so much more to do in life. Cornell isn't known as one of the best universities in the world for having easy courses. Sometimes it will be tough. But you have access to world class faculty and research, countless support services, and incredible peers.
There will be late nights in OIin Library where you'll stock up on quad shot espressos before the Starbucks closes and prelims you wish you had just one more hour to study for. It's in these moments of hardship that we grow stronger, the moments where you'll have to push yourself. But we must remember it's OK to be challenged, it's OK to drop a class, and it's OK to ask for help. I've done it. 10 years from now, you'll forget about the prelims but what you won't forget is the place and the people. Many of your friends may be in Miami or New York or Los Angeles, but you're the only ones that get to say, I'm in Ithaca and it's gorgeous.
I encourage you to make the most out of the community. You can hike through the Gorges, rent a bike and hit the Cayuga waterfront trail, or take a trip to the farmer's market. Heck, Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than New York City. On campus, there's even more to do. You can head to the orchards and try what just might become America's next favorite apple variety, go on an excursion to the Johnson Museum, or even visit the Dairy Bar, the only place you can get ice cream so good it's technically butter. During the winter, you may have to hike through the snow when it's up to your knees. But I assure you, your calves will never be stronger. I'm already feeling a little pain from the past two days, but we're getting there.
Over the next few months, you'll have so many opportunities to grow. Some of you may know each other right now. But most of you do not. And for that reason, if you're strong enough to make it to breakfast, I urge you to sit with someone new as often as possible. That's how I made some of my closest friends. You'll meet people from all walks of life who will introduce you to new opportunities and activities.
These are people who may take you to your first Shabbat dinner or the Bali show, people who may serenade you with acappella music after an exam or use you as models for their fashion show, people who will push you towards late night snacks at Bare Necessities, only to force you to go to the gym or rock climbing the very next day.
In addition to finding friends in the residence halls or the dining halls, there's so many opportunities for professional and extracurricular development. For me, I found a home in the student assembly, a place I'd recommend to any and all students who are interested in making an impact on campus. There are currently five positions open this fall for new students, including four first years and one transfer student seat.
But more importantly, I encourage all of you to find your own home on campus. You can join a business fraternity to hone those consulting skills or a project team to design a new off road vehicle. You can dive into research with a particle accelerator or assist with [INAUDIBLE] Cornell. Trust me. It's awesome. I learned how to bartend. And if what you want isn't here, start it. There are roughly 15,000 undergraduate students. I'm sure there's at least one person who is interested in the same thing as you. Find your niche, feel free to express yourself, and you'll find that Cornell will welcome you with open arms.
A few generations ago, the famous comedian, Lucille Ball better known as Lucy, said, I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done. Lucy emphasizes this. Smile. Be who you are. And in doing so, you will find yourself leaving this campus with no regrets. Congrats again, class of 2022 and our transfers.
VARUN DEVATHA: Thank you. It is my pleasure to introduce our Vise President for Student and Campus Life, Dr. Ryan Lombardi. The Division of Student and Campus Life provides a broad array of programs and services designed to transform and support students in the campus community, including athletics and physical education, campus life enterprise services, Cornell Health, the Office of the Dean of Students, Cornell Career Services, and Campus and Community Engagement. Please join me in welcoming Vice President Lombardi.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Good morning and welcome. I'm very pleased to be one of many and certainly not the last to welcome you to Cornell. In case it isn't already obvious, we're really glad you're here. Now, I hope you've recovered from yesterday. I know this isn't a beautiful morning in Ithaca, like most of our mornings. But if it's any consolation prize to you, this was actually the forecast for yesterday. So instead of you being really wet, all of your stuff would have been really wet yesterday. And that didn't happen so we got to look at the bright side of things, right? We made it in yesterday. Our things were dry. We had some incredible help from our orientation staff. So things are going to get better here. And hopefully, this will clear up soon.
I would like to emphasize for a moment the importance of taking the advice of the individuals from whom you've already heard this morning. Immerse yourself in the orientation programs these coming days. The start of your Cornell experience will certainly be better for it. Connect with Varun and the student assembly and use them as a resource. And by all means, stay connected to your orientation leader as you navigate your first year at Cornell.
Now, I only get a couple of minutes with you this morning and I want to talk about that point, the point of connections. Now, when we think about connections what most often comes to mind for me, and I think for most of us these days, is staying connected through our devices. Mine is right here in my coat. We're connected by it through our friends, through our followers. We're validated by how many likes our post gets. And this need to be connected sometimes consumes us.
We've all had that moment of panic where we didn't have cell or Wi-Fi service when we expected to do so, right? And we imagine in those couple of moments when we're not connected that some disastrous confluence of events are going to happen simultaneously at that very moment and we'll be ill equipped to respond instantly and effectively.
Maybe it was a telemarketer that called or perhaps that massively urgent and critical text message that hadn't yet sent or I got a notification from UPS that there's a package at my front door, which I'm not going to be home for four hours anyway so it doesn't really matter. Really critical stuff. But we all know the great relief that we experience too when we see the moment where the service bars come back on to our phone. Now, any of you just check to see whether we have a signal right now?
But those aren't the connections, of course, that I want to talk about this morning. I'm talking about deep, meaningful, and personal connections with your new Cornell family. And the most important of all the connections you will have the opportunity to make in the coming years are with your faculty. Cornell faculty are spectacular and are among the very, very best minds in the world. I still learn something every single time I'm in the presence of one of our great professors.
But let me tell you a little secret. They are also human beings just like me and you. And they have signed up to be faculty at Cornell so they can share what they know with you and they really like doing so. So please develop those connections with your faculty. Go to their office hours. Introduce yourself before or after class. Ask them about their research or their other areas of interest or study. Get to know them. Doing so will absolutely make a positive impact on your education at Cornell and more importantly, on your life.
I've had a lot of professors over the course of three degrees and I always remember the great ones, but not necessarily for what they taught me in the classroom. I remember one of my favorite graduate school professors. He was teaching a course on hierarchical linear modeling. Don't ask me what it is. But you know what I remember, because I didn't use it in my dissertation and I think if you gave me a full day open I couldn't actually run a regression using HLM, but I do remember having long conversations with Dr. Titus about one of his other passions. And that was how the decisions around the financing of higher education impacted the social fabric of the United States. Wouldn't have thought I was going to learn that from him when I signed up for his course.
Or in my first semester as a music major, my music theory professor. I had not listened to the Beatles that often growing up, but she was a big fan. And so to her ability to use the Beatles as a way for us to understand simple and sometimes complex chord progressions really brought that material to life for me as well.
Those are the talents that our special professors can bring out of us. But I would not have had the chance to build the relationships that we ended up having without taking the initiative to make the connection. It took a conscious effort to be present to be proactive and to put myself out there. And I'll tell you my life is better for having done that.
The other connection point that I'd like to emphasize today is sitting right here with you. Look around and be sure to cherish those who join you on this journey. Trust me when I say that you will be very, very hard pressed it any other point in your life to have access on a daily basis to such a vibrant, intelligent, and diverse collection of individuals as your classmates at Cornell. It just doesn't happen. It is an incredible opportunity and privilege that is in front of you.
For the next few years, you will have the opportunity to learn about and understand the perspectives of all of these people. Your classmates sitting around you, these folks are not your competition. They are your Cornell family. Lift each other up and help each other become your best selves together as a community. And be absolutely sure to stay committed to this for the entire time you are here. We can easily find ourselves in this trap of trying to compete and looking next door to us and trying to be better. Look to them as your family members and lift each other up. Many connections we make with our friends and followers come and go, but if done intentionally, students, the connections you're about to make here at Cornell will last a lifetime.
So new Cornellians, we are so glad that you are here. I wish you all the best as you begin this incredible journey and I look forward to seeing you around campus. Thank you.
[MUSIC - "SONG FOR CORNELL"]
MIRANDA AN: 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. In her first year at Cornell, President Pollack launched several initiatives to shape Cornell's future. She convened the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate, which developed a broad suite of recommendations aimed at making Cornell equitable and inclusive.
The President's Visioning Committee on Cornell in New York City defined a vision for Cornell's expansion in the city that would increase student and faculty access to cultural opportunities, establish connections to industry and educational institutions, and provide pathways to engage first hand in developing and testing solutions to urban problems in an increasingly urban world. President Pollack also initiated substantial changes to policies for fraternities and sororities designed to end hazing and other serious misconduct, promote safety, encourage responsible leadership, and educate members about university expectations. She has also focused on strategies to increase affordability and socioeconomic diversity.
She was previously Provost and Executive Vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan. During her career, she has won many awards and recognitions for her research. She has earned a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics at Dartmouth College, an MS and PhD in Computer Science and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Please welcome President Pollack.
MARTHA POLLACK: Hi, everybody. You know, in Ithica, we have a name for this kind of weather. We call it precification, precification. And we don't let it bother us. That might seem like it's easy for me to say because I'm under a canopy. But go ahead and Google the graduation ceremony from last May and you'll see what it's like when we don't have the canopy. But seriously, I really, really want to welcome all of you. Whether you're a member of the class of 2022 or a new transfer student, I want to add my sincere welcome to those who've already received this morning. We are so happy to have you as part of the Cornell community.
Hopefully, you've already had a little bit of time to explore the surrounding area. So let me ask, how many of you have already visited Collegetown? All right. Looks like pretty much everyone. The next time you're there, be sure to look for Eddy Gate. It's a really interesting structure. Some people call it Andy White's chocolate layer cake. Now, you ask, who's Andy White. Andy the white is Andrew Dickson White, Cornell's first president. And he had the Eddy Gate built in 1896 as the main entrance to campus. The reference to it being a layer cake is because it has layers of red and white stone that were used in its construction. Eddy Gate is at the end of a quiet street, but it's worth looking for, particularly because of the message which is inscribed on its west wall.
And that message is this. So enter daily that thou mayest become more learned and thoughtful. So depart daily that thou mayest become more useful to thy country and to mankind. The words may sound a bit archaic, but I think they capture our hopes for you as you begin your time at Cornell. Enter daily that thou mayest become more learned and thoughtful. I think that most of you, along with your parents, expect that you will become more learned here. You've come to a university known for its distinguished faculty.
Your professors will be men and women recognized the world over for their research, their scholarship, their creative work. And you will very quickly discover they are also enthusiastic about teaching and passionate about making a difference in the lives of their students, you, and the broader world. You're here at Cornell in large part to become more learned. This means developing an appreciation for knowledge that's been created over millennia and it means developing an ability to apply that knowledge in the world today.
But the inscription at Eddy Gate speaks of becoming more learned and thoughtful. And those are not the same. Becoming more thoughtful requires not just obtaining and being able to apply knowledge. Becoming more thoughtful involves learning to think critically about what we know and what we think we know it means learning when to ask questions and what questions to ask.
And it means learning when to say silent and just listen. And all of that in turn requires being open to hearing the ideas of others and being willing to listen to and consider perspectives that are different from ones own. This is critically important. So let me repeat it. You're here in part to become more thoughtful and that happens only when you are willing to listen to and consider perspectives that are different from your own.
True to our founding aspiration of being a university for any person, I guarantee you that over the next-- whether you're here for two years as a transfer student or four years as a new freshman-- you're going to hear over and over and over this phrase, any person, any study. As a university that's been committed to our founding in 1865 as being one for any person, we are today a very diverse place. Members of your class, the class of 2022, come from 47 different states, Washington DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and 43 other countries around the world. 14% of the class are first generation in their family to go to college and 27% self-identify as underrepresented minorities.
And in addition to gender and racial and ethnic and religious and geographic diversity, you're also going to have the opportunity to interact with students who are differently abled, students with different sexual orientations and identities, and students who hold different political beliefs. Among your classmates and your floor mates, your professors, your teaching assistants, and everyone else that you'll meet here at Cornell, you will find people who have perspectives you haven't considered before, forged by their own unique backgrounds and their own unique experiences. You're not going to agree with them on every issue. But if you listen with an open mind, not only can you learn from them, but they can learn from you.
As an institution whose very mission is tied to the free interchange of ideas, Cornell will support and encourage you to be open to all thought and to think critically about what you hear. The Intergroup Dialogue Project for first year students and The Identity and Belonging Project for transfer students that are part of your orientation will begin to help you develop the skills to communicate and collaborate across difference. We will guarantee your freedom to express your own points of use and we will encourage you to speak out against speech that is at odds with your core principles or the principles that we share as members of an academic community.
But we will also expect you to assume a key responsibility that comes with free expression, the responsibility to discuss even the most hotly contested topics with civility and an attitude of respect towards one another so that a true exchange of knowledge and ideas can occur. So look, even if you don't remember the details of what I've said the last few minutes, go home this afternoon and listen to that incredible anthem by that incredible woman Aretha Franklin who just passed away a few years ago- a few years ago-- a few days ago.
Listen to her sing, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what that means to me. I can see all the parents getting ready to do the sock it to me, sock it to me. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Reflect upon what it means to feel respected and reflect upon what it means to respect one another. That's what we want you to do during your Cornell career so that you can really expose yourself to a breath of critical ideas. And when you do that, you will become, as the Eddy Gate phrase promises, more thoughtful.
Now, quickly before I end, I must return to the second part of the Eddy Gate inscription. Remember, that it not only says you'll enter to become more learned and more thoughtful, but that you will depart so that daily that mayest become more useful to the country and to mankind. As New York's land grant institution, Cornell takes very seriously our responsibility to develop and deploy knowledge in service of humankind. Throughout our history, we've reached out into the world and have had an impact through discoveries of our researchers and scholars, as well as through the good work of our Cornell alumni around the globe.
But you don't have to wait until you graduate to begin this useful work. During the next few days or weeks or months, I hope you will explore the many opportunities for community engagement and public service, both on and off campus, that are available to you. Through our Engaged Cornell Initiative, faculty, staff, and students collaborate with community organizations to address pressing issues both locally and globally. There are many courses here at Cornell that offer opportunities for engagement, from researching and building systems that provide sustainable supplies of clean water to developing nations, to utilizing social entrepreneurship to address issues of food availability and access in the local community, to carrying out fieldwork in urban archeology and local historic sites.
Some of you have already participated in POST, our Pre-Orientation Service Trip program, carrying out projects in the local community. This is just one of many volunteer programs offered through the Cornell Public Service Center. There's lots of ways to get involved and make a difference during your time at Cornell. One way you can learn more about them is tomorrow stop by Kennedy hall to attend the ice cream social at the Engaged Cornell Hub, as well as attending a program on engaging with global and local communities. You can find details in your orientation guide. And look, even if you decide to take up one of those opportunities, they're serving ice cream.
If you're sitting here today, it's because we have recognized in you the capacity to take in all that a world class university like Cornell has to offer you on the path to becoming learned. We've also recognized in you an interest in becoming more thoughtful and we expect you to act on that interest by seeking out those with different backgrounds and ideas, listening carefully, engaging in thoughtful discourse, and listening to Aretha Franklin this afternoon.
Finally, we have recognized in you a desire to take your learning and your thoughtfulness and to put them to use in ways that benefit thy country and thy world. You are in those regards among kindred spirits here. Class of 2022 and new transfer students, we welcome each of you to Cornell. Thank you.
And now for the first of what I know will be many times in your Cornell careers, I invite you to join the Cornell University Chorus and Glee Club in singing our Alma Mater. The words are printed in your program.
[MUSIC - "FAR ABOVE CAYUGA'S WATERS"]
(SINGING) Far above Cayuga's waters, with its waves of blue, stands our noble Alma Mater, glorius 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, our Alma Mater, Hail, all hail, Cornell.
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President Martha E. Pollack urged new first-year and transfer students to stand up for their core principles but listen respectfully to different opinions at Convocation on Aug. 18, 2018.