ROHAN YARADI: Welcome class of 2023 and all you transfer students to Cornell University.
My name is Rohan Yaradi, Co-chair of the Orientation Steering Committee. And I am absolutely thrilled that you are able to join us for you're new student convocation. Please take this moment to relax after your [INAUDIBLE] and move in. And let us celebrate and welcome all of you, new students and families, to the Cornell community.
I hope you're beginning to settle in. I remember moving in as the culmination of months of planning and looking forward to arriving at Cornell. It was a big transition, exciting, but more than a little daunting. As Co-chair of the Orientation Steering Committee over the past year, I've learned that move in and orientation are also the culmination of months of planning here on campus, where everyone has truly been looking forward to your arrival.
My Co-chair, Megha Singh, and I have had the privilege of working with a committee of nine of the hardest working students I know to prepare for orientation. We remember what it's like to be new to Cornell. And we try to create an orientation program that will help you adjust to campus and really find a new home. Also over the past several months, we've recruited and trained 300 student volunteers who will mentor you and help host orientation events.
You may have seen their red shirts during move in and maybe even right now. I know red shirts aren't exactly a small quantity here. You'll also meet these volunteers again in small groups and at larger social programs throughout orientation.
During the next few days, we'll connect you with other new students and help you get to know the campus and your college. You'll have the opportunity to make long lasting connections, get valuable advice from upper level students, and take unique advantage of Cornell at it's best, when it's fairly warm outside. As part of your orientation, you'll also spend some time in programs that will help you learn about the amazing and important resources on our campus, as well as the privileges and responsibilities that come with being part of this community.
University staff and administrators, your college faculty and advisors, and many others across campus are excited to be here to welcome and support you. Through it all, we hope that you'll be able to discover a sense of belonging at Cornell. After all, that's what orientation is all about.
I would like to recognize the university officials who are here with us today. Please hold your applause until the end. Robert Abrams, Trustee, Avery August, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Rachel Bean, Senior Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, College of Arts and Sciences, Kathryn Boor, Ronald P Lynch Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Jonathan Burdick, Vice Provost for Enrollment, Lance Collins, Joseph Silbert Dean, College of Engineering, Alex Colvin, Dean, ILR School, Mark Cruvellier, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Architecture, Art, and Planning, Rachel Donifon, Interim Dean, College of Human Ecology, Michael Kotlikoff, Provost, Jeramy Kruser, Trustee, Bruce Lewenstein, Trustee, Jenny Loeffelman, Assistant Vice President for Student and Campus Life, Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student and Campus Life, Mary Opperman, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Yonn Rasmussen, Trustee, Kate Walsh, Dean, School of Hotel Administration, Lynn Wooten, David J Nolan Dean Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
Also here with us is the President of the Student Assembly, Joe Anderson. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the members of the 2019 Orientation Steering Committee. They are also sitting on stage. They have been volunteering their time for a year to help make this orientation week a reality. Naseem Dabiran, OSC, Sylvan Donenfeld, Cameron Hsieh, Daniel Glus, Rupal Khaitan, Joshua Mann, Estefania Perez, Maria Silvestri, Megha Singh, SJ Yoon. On behalf of the OSC and all of the orientation volunteers, we hope that you enjoy the next few days.
I would now like to invite my OSC Co-chair, Megha Singh to the podium. Thank you. Congratulations and welcome to Cornell.
MEGHA SINGH: Good afternoon. My name is Megha Singh. And I am one of the two Co-chairs of the Orientation Steering Committee. I'm so glad you're here. Welcome to Cornell. We've really been looking forward to this moment.
During the next few days, many people may ask, where are you from? Most of you would probably name your hometown. I'm not saying that's wrong. Because that's fact. But for some of us, where we are from can be complicated. Aside from our hometown, our place of residence, where we're from could mean our ethnicity, our culture, our life experiences, and for some of us, multiple places we've lived.
Me, for instance, whenever I'm asked that question, I struggle with how to respond, as I was born abroad, lived in two different states. And my family moved to a third state just last month. On top of that, I was a transfer student to Cornell. As you can see, there are a lot of ways to answer the question, where are you from? I'm sure some of you can relate.
Another way to phrase that question is, what is home to you? And this answer might also vary. The word home for me has an entirely different connotation than where I'm from. Rather than a geographical location, a home is a familiar place for a person, where I feel love, self-worth, and a sense of belonging. I think it's possible to have more than one home. And Cornell is one of mine.
My hope is that at Cornell, you'll come to feel that even though you moved to campus from home, it doesn't mean you moved away from home. It simply means you haven't built a new home here yet. At this point in your life, you might begin to feel that the answer to the question, what is home to you, has a complicated answer. But that's OK. That's a good thing that could take some time to figure out.
So for the new students out there, I'm going to share three important tips on how to successfully thrive at Cornell through an analogy of building a new home. Step one, incorporate. In order to build a strong foundation, you will need to gather all of your materials and support systems together. How you want to create a solid base is entirely up to you. Maybe your secure reinforcements consist of family, friends, school supplies, or ramen noodles. You'll need enough resources to fill the gaps.
Yet even if you've incorporated your resources and sturdy network, college experiences and academic rigor will come barging at the door. Your home will be tested and stretched. But that's life. Much like this campus, your home will often be under construction. And that's fine. You'll work it out.
The next step is to associate. Imagine this. Your home needs major repairs or you have concerns about your neighbors. What do you do? Join a home owners association. Connections are crucial. And I encourage you to reach out to any and all members of the Cornell family, friends, faculty, staff, coaches, teammates, club members, or others, for anything. We are here for each other. And we'll certainly help you find your way.
When I first transferred to Cornell, once I started to branch out and join student organizations, I began to feel that I belonged here. And Cornell became home. For instance, after orientation, I connected with other transfer students. A few weeks later, I joined the Cornell Running Club, where I met and made friends with passions and interests similar to mine.
Although this is a large campus, by getting involved you too can create smaller shared spaces of belonging, your Cornell "association." finally, the last step in building your home is to decorate. Upkeep is so important. During your time at Cornell, your home's character may undergo more development. What do you want it to look like?
With time, that may change. Your home is a personal place. And as a designer and owner, it will be up to you. It will be what you make of it. Of course, your home, a place of peace and comfort, or ongoings and excitement, should be livable for you. Part of the maintenance work is staying healthy and having fun, however you choose to define that. Making time to relieve stress and finding ways to recharge your battery are key to overall happiness. Whatever it is you love, exercising, playing a sport, listening to or playing music, art, music, hanging out with friends, or meditation, it's worth pursuing. That's how you dress up your new home to truly make it yours.
Things will get busy in the next few days. Don't rush. You don't have to finish your construction all at once. But I hope you keep an eye out for the people, resources, and embellishments that will help you start building your home at Cornell. Remember to incorporate information and support systems in your foundation. Associate with your friendly Cornell neighbors. And decorate this special place you call home. Good luck to you all. Thank you.
Please join me in welcoming Student Assembly President, Joe Anderson.
JOE ANDERSON: Good afternoon and welcome to Cornell. My name is Joe Anderson. I'm currently serving as President of the Cornell Student Assembly. And I have the amazing opportunity of being one of the first people to officially welcome you to Cornell.
The student assembly is Cornell's undergraduate student government. We strive to represent all undergraduate students and oversee the funding of about 850 student organizations, which we hope you'll explore during your time at Cornell.
On a campus as large as Cornell, we know students will have diverse experiences. I hope you find Cornell to be welcoming, exciting, and challenging in a good way. I also hope that when you experience difficulties you know that you were chosen to be here and that there are people here to support you. During my early days at Cornell, I felt like I didn't belong. Having been at the top of my high school class, I expected Cornell to be challenging, but not as challenging as it was.
Sometimes I questioned if this was the right place for me. Winter break gave me the time to reflect on what I gained my first semester, instead of just feeling caught up in the moment. Sometime during that break, I decided to stick it out one more semester. And that turned out to be my best life decision to date. Yes, my first semester was less than amazing. However, I can now say that semester I learned the most. I learned about myself. And I experienced tremendous personal growth.
When I think back to that semester, many of the experiences I had aren't unique to my experience. So I'd like to share some of them with you and hope that if you encounter difficulties, you can look back to this day and use one of these tools to get you through that situation. First, I hope you find your own definition of success and belonging. Because only you can define those things for yourself.
You might have heard the expression, impostor syndrome. This is when a person believes that their successes are not legitimate. And they haven't earned the place that they hold. You might experience it at some point. But I can confidently say that you do belong at Cornell. And you deserve your place here. Remember this if you experience a lack of belonging or unsure if you will succeed. Know that you deserve to be here. You belong to be here. And every day that you are here, you are succeeding.
Even in the midst of success, sometimes students face rejection or academic setbacks. I want you to believe that this can be a positive experience of your Cornell experience. Most Cornellians that came before you have experienced the same thing. These failures might shake you. But don't let that be their greatest impact. Learn from them and come back with new study habits, new behaviors, and new passions. It's how you learn from these challenges and persevere through future ones that will allow others to see the true you.
There's no better time to try things and throw the fear of failure behind you than in college. So be bold and daring. Cornell will give you great opportunities to make a positive social impact through your engagement and academic pursuits. Both Cornell's foundation has a land grant university and founding motto of any person, any study, provides us guidance to point a pathway to create new, inclusive knowledge that strives to further the societal good. Whether it's studying high road economic development in ILR, or understanding endangered species of [INAUDIBLE] birds in ornithology, or volunteering on campus or in the city of Ithaca, you can make a difference.
Now, I'm not saying you have to find a cure for cancer or win a Nobel Prize. But what you can do is use the knowledge and resources at your disposal and look to change the world in a big or small way. Put purpose in your academic journey and you will make yourself a lifelong learner, connecting everything you learn in the classroom with everything outside of it. Well, the classroom is certainly important to explore, your Cornell experience will be shaped even more through the out of classroom possibilities. Whether it be finding a home in one of our 100 student organizations, volunteering in the city of Ithaca, your experience will be enhanced through these opportunities.
And sometimes, doing something that doesn't relate to your academic program might refresh you and provide an ability to ground yourself. Say thank you. Appreciate the people that have gotten you to where you are might seem insignificant. But you might not realize the totality of what other people have done for you, your parents, your high school teachers, your coaches, and others. Take time and thank them before new student orientation is over. And remember to continue thanking others for all that they do during your time at Cornell. Never underestimate the power of acknowledging others for the work that they do. It will benefit your well-being and the well-being of others.
Finally, try to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Take time and explore not only your identities, but the identities of others. Learn to celebrate the differences and enjoy what you have in common with others. Take to heart others' experiences in this world. And learn how to support people from all backgrounds. Challenge your preconceived notions. Take classes in subjects that you know nothing about. And do an internship in an industry or a place you would never expect to have your career.
Being uncomfortable means that your learning. And learning is not only limited to college, but continues throughout your life. You may feel great successes. And you may struggle, all in the same week. When you do face adversity, don't be afraid to ask for help. Your resident advisor, staff and student services, a faculty member, advisors, and others are here to offer you help and guidance. We all want you to feel like you belong and succeed on your own terms.
All of this can be summed up in one quick phrase, follow your own path. Only you can control your Cornell experience. And only you will be able to experience that journey. So start your journey seeking both fulfillment and happiness. And with that, welcome to Cornell. We are so excited to have you.
It is now my pleasure to introduce our Vice President of Student and Campus Life, Dr. Ryan Lombardi. The Division of Student Campus Life provides a broad array of programs and services designed to support students and the campus community, including athletics and physical education, Office of the Dean of Students, campus and community engagement, Cornell Health, Cornell Life Enterprise Services, Cornell Career Services, and the Office of the Vice President.
The division is comprised about 1,200 staff who support the student experience. Prior to joining Cornell in August 2015, Dr. Lombardi served as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Ohio University. Dr. Lombardi received an undergraduate education and music education from West Chester University and a Master's degree in higher education administration from the University of Kansas. He completed a doctorate in higher education administration from North Carolina State University.
Please join me in welcoming Vice President Lombardi.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thank you, Joe. You know, a couple of years ago, Joe was in my office. And we were talking about his future. And he said, you know, I think maybe someday I want your job. I offered to hand him my phone on the spot. He turned me down. But actually, after you hear my remarks, I think you'll see that he's astonishingly close to being able to take my place here, so thank you.
But good afternoon and welcome. Let me be now, I guess, the fourth person to welcome you to Cornell. We're so, so delighted that you are here. I also want to just take another moment to give thanks to Megha and Rohan and the entire Orientation Steering Committee, and the many, many volunteers that have worked to prepare an outstanding orientation for you.
If you're feeling just a little worn down after the last day and a half of move-in, just imagine what it would have been like without all those yellow and red shirts out there helping you out. So let's give them some thanks for that, huh?
Rohan talked a little bit about the way that they structure orientation. I really encourage you to take advantage of the programs that they have planned for you over the coming days. They'll help set you on the right path for your journey at Cornell. Now, new Cornellians, I'm really excited to welcome you here. But I only have a couple of moments with you. So I'll just make three quick points, and one, what I think, is a simple request.
First, we are glad you are here. And your admission was not a mistake. You may laugh. But as Joe said, I know deep down inside that some of you either have or will question this in the coming days and months. Some of you may feel like an imposter sitting here. While others may feel othered and like you're the only one that has these doubts. But I can assure you that is not the case.
Most people here are having some of those doubts. And as is especially true for that person sitting around you that acts like they have it all together. We all question our abilities at various points in our lives. And it's certainly natural to do so. But please, know that you deserve to be here. You belong here. And we are very, very glad that you are here.
Second, your time at Cornell will be filled with incredible highs, but likely some lows too. And one of the keys to your success will center around your ability to notice when you need help and to ask for it. Notice I didn't say, if you need help, but rather when you need it. We all need help at some point in our lives. And we have an incredible array of resources here. But it's a really big place. And you have to seek them out. Please don't ever hesitate to do so.
There are thousands of people on this campus whose very job is to provide that support or assistance when you need it. We want you to succeed. So please make the most of these resources and ask for help. Third, expect to be uncomfortable at times. Now I'm not talking about being uncomfortable during the Ithaca winters. Because, spoiler alert, in case you didn't know it, the weather isn't always quite like this.
I'm also not talking about being uncomfortable, because someone is treating you badly or harassing you. That's never OK, of course. But I'm actually referring to the very definition and process of how we learn and grow, by challenging our own boundaries, our knowledge, our beliefs, and our capabilities. Think about it. If you are never uncomfortable, you would not have learned how to ride a bike, or to drive a car, or to sing anywhere outside of the shower. Or you wouldn't do the swim test perhaps.
You might also never have learned enough to get accepted to Cornell, or to critically reflect on a long held belief, or to show up here this week at all. Don't expect that everything will be comfortable while you're here. And appreciate that some of life's greatest moments, where we grow the most, are when we are the least comfortable. So know that you belong here. Learn how to ask for help and take advantage of our resources. Third, be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Finally, my request and that's this. To always intend and presume goodwill. Cornell is an incredible place and not because of the bricks and mortar. Though it's a pretty nice looking place too, but because of the people. You will interact with thousands of people in all kinds of situations and circumstances over the coming years. Approach these interactions not with judgment or with skepticism, but rather with goodwill.
The people sitting around you today, they are not your competition. They're your classmates. And for the rest of your life, you will share the connection of having been at Cornell together. Treat each other as the treasures that you are and lift each other up at all times. Take that extra moment to sincerely ask someone about their day. Say hi to the people you see walking around campus. Just remember that you never know what another person is going through. And the simple act of acknowledging their presence and showing an interest in them can make all the difference in that day.
So please always intend to presume goodwill. Cornellians, you're going to have an incredible journey here. And I look forward to being with you every step of the way. Thank you very much.
MEGHA SINGH: It is my honor to introduce to you our next speaker. Martha E. Pollack is the 14th President of Cornell University and Professor of Computer Science, Information Science, and Linguistics. As the only land grant university in the Ivy League, Cornell combines the highest standards of teaching and research with an exceptional breadth and depth of expertise.
President Pollack is committed to building upon Cornell's academic distinction and unique strengths, while also sustaining and enhancing its culture of educational verve by investing in new evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning. She sees Cornell's founding commitment to diversity and equity as central to its identity and its success, and has engaged the entire university in the work of building an open, inclusive community whose members communicate effectively across difference.
In her first year as president, President Pollack commissioned a Faculty Visioning Committee, which developed both short term and long term recommendations to enhance collaborations across Cornell's Ithaca and New York City campuses, and provide pathways for students and faculty to engage firsthand in addressing and testing solutions to urban problems in an increasingly urban world.
President Pollack has also commissioned a Task Force on Campus Climate, which developed a broad suite of recommendations aimed at making Cornell more equitable and inclusive. 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 earned a bachelor's degree in linguistics in Dartmouth College and an MS and PhD in Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Please welcome President Pollack.
MARTHA E POLLACK: Hello, everybody. You know, before I start my formal comments, I want to ask, who checked the weather report this morning? And did you notice that it said mostly sunny? I got to tell you, in Ithaca, this is what we call mostly sunny.
I am just so excited to welcome all of you. There are 3,218 new students. You're coming here from 39 countries, 49 states, plus Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and the US Virgin Islands. Take a second, and which state do you think is missing? The answer is, unfortunately, Montana. Next year, we'll be out recruiting in Montana.
You are members of the classes of 2021, '22, and '23. You're freshman. And you're transfer students. You're from rural, urban, and suburban communities. Some of you are military veterans. Some of you are new ROTC cadets. You're coming from an incredible diversity of backgrounds. You speak more than 40 languages. Many of you are the first in your family to attend college.
You come here with interests that span all of our 100 plus academic departments and beyond. And the first thing I want to say to you, reiterating what my fellow speakers have said, is that no matter where you come from, no matter what path brought you here, you belong here. From today on, you are all Cornellians. Oh, yeah. Cornellians. You're Cornellians. Stand up. Cornellians, stand up.
Over the course of the days, and the weeks, and then the months ahead, every single one of you will have the chance to make your mark on Cornell, just as Cornell will have the chance to make its mark on you. And at the end of that time, you and I will be back here again at Schoellkopf Field at your commencement. You won't be sitting in the bleachers. You'll be sitting on chairs in the field with your fellow graduates, waiting to receive your degrees. So I want you to close your eyes for a moment, just a moment, and imagine that day.
It's 11:00 in the morning on a sunny-- because it's always sunny in Ithaca-- Memorial Day weekend. Instead of wearing shorts and t-shirts, you're in caps and gowns. And instead of looking forward to your time at Cornell, you're looking backwards at all the experiences you've had here. OK, you can open your eyes.
I want to tell you something about that moment and about how you will be different then. You will have just completed your education at Cornell. And a Cornell education is something that can and should change your lives. It should help you develop not only a capable intellect, but also, a mature conscience. It should prepare you not only for a job, but also, for your lives as citizens of this nation and the world.
There is a fabulous line by the author, Richard Russo, from a graduation speech that he gave a few years ago. He said this. "Sending 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 same person who went in, then something has gone terribly, dangerously wrong." But to truly have the transformative experience that you came to Cornell to find, you need to seek it out. Becoming educated is not a passive activity.
Everyone here today is giving you advice. And I could talk for a very long time giving you advice, talk to you about everything you should do if you want to make the most of your time at Cornell. I could tell you to try new things, to take courses in subjects you never even knew you could study, from the language of honeybees to the code of Hamarabi. I could urge you to try one of our more than 1,000 clubs, where you can learn improv, or Japanese taiko drumming, entrepreneurship, or organic farming, sign language, or sustainable design. I could tell you, again, as have my fellow speakers, not to be afraid to fail.
In fact, I can almost guarantee that you will have moments when you will struggle. You'll have setbacks, perhaps even hard failures. But that's OK. You'll learn from them. And you'll also learn how to pick yourself up and move on. If you never fail, you haven't been pushing yourselves hard enough. I could tell you to take care of yourself, to get well, to exercise. And yes, I know, you don't think this is going to happen to you. But you really should get enough sleep.
Your health and your happiness depend on it, even though there will always be something else that you could be doing instead of turning out the light. I could tell you all of those things. In fact, I just did. And while there's more advice I could give, I doubt you'd remember much of it. You've got too much on your minds already. So I'm going to give you just one piece of advice today that I hope you'll remember and that I hope you will take to heart, one piece of advice to help you make the most of your time here, to enable you to engage more fully with all the opportunities you'll have at Cornell, to ensure that you leave Cornell with that education you came here for.
If there's one piece of advice that I want you to remember from everything I say today, you should remember what everybody else said, but of the things I say today, here's what I want you to remember. Take off your headphones. Let me explain. It was about seven or eight years ago that I first noticed the phenomenon of people walking around with earbuds in. I was in DC. And I needed directions to the Metro. But everyone I passed on the street had earbuds in. And those earbuds signaled to me, as earbuds do, that this person was otherwise engaged, unavailable at the moment.
I was shut out. And I shouldn't be asking them for directions. I did find the Metro eventually. And over the next few years, I noticed that the earbuds moved over a little bit. And those big Beat style headphones moved in. And as I drive into work at Cornell every morning, I see dozens of students wearing these as they walk to class. They're all walking in the same direction. But they're not walking together. They're not listening to each other. Instead, they're listening to whatever is coming through their headphones.
The visual image is even more striking. They're saying, I am in my world, not the world around me. I am listening to someone else, not the human beings beside me. Most recently, the shift seems to be to Airpods. Now, they're at least a little smaller than the big headphones. But they represent a different kind of distraction. Because they're often left in constantly. They say, I may be partly here. But I'm only ever partly here. OK, I hear you all saying, well, so what?
This is 2019. And we're the tech generation. We're connecting to the larger world. We're connecting in new and different ways to something beyond our immediate environment. Why isn't that a good thing? It's a fair question with a few answers. But I'll start with one that's specific to Cornell.
You came to Cornell for an experience you could only find here. And so what I'm really asking you to do when I ask you to take off your headphones is not to block that experience out, but to open yourself to it. So when I say take off your headphones, first I mean literally. When you are attending to your headphones, you're not attending to the world around you. You're not hearing the bird, or the winds, or the airplane overhead.
I used to attend a concert series whose motto was, be present. The idea was that when you were at the concert, you should not only shut off your phone, but you should also turn off your mind to all the distractions beyond the music, and fully immerse yourself in that music. If you're multitasking, if you're listening to music or a podcast, or whatever else while you're walking, you're not present. You're somewhere else. And you're also telling everyone else around you that you're somewhere else.
Sometimes that's OK. Sometimes you won't want to give directions to the Metro. If you have a prelim tomorrow and because of that, you don't want to be bothered, unless the library is on fire, or you're at a silent disco. I hear that's a thing. I didn't know about that until yesterday. And there's one at orientation. If you're at that silent disco, sure put your headphones on. I think it's kind of weird myself, but go ahead, enjoy the silent disco.
But keeping them on all day sends the signal all day, don't talk to me. I'm not available. I'm not here to connect to. Over time, the result of that choice is going to be much more significant than just never being the one to asked for directions. Ultimately, it means you won't connect. Or at least, you won't connect as deeply or as often with the people and the experiences that you came here to Cornell for. You won't strike up conversations with the people sitting next to you in class, or standing in line for stir fry, or waiting for office hours.
No one will ask you, what did you think of that book? Or tell you, I hear they're out of chicken. But the tofu is great. Or say, do you want to try and work on that problem set together while we're waiting for the TA? Now, you might not need help with that same problem. And you might not have wanted chicken anyway. But those conversations in that moment, although they may seem lightweight and even trivial, ultimately, link us together in ways that are critically important. Because relationships and community are built over time, and seeing each other and connecting to each other again and again.
And to connect, you need to be available. You need to be present in the moment for and with the people around you. So take off your headphones. But it isn't enough just to take them off physically. You also need to take them off in the larger sense. You need to stop shutting out the world around you. Listen to it. Listen to ideas that may seem to you to be wrong, even offensive. Shove those headphones deep into your backpack and seek out people with different perspectives, and ideas, and backgrounds. Listen to them and make it a point to engage in reasoned discourse with them.
Find out why they think what they do. Because it's only by hearing, and engaging, and grappling with different ideas that we learn. A reasoned debate with someone with whom you disagree might just change your mind. Or you might find as you share and listen a thought that leads you to refine your own thinking or to want to learn more. You may not come to agree at all with the other person. But you may learn something interesting and important about their motivations. And it might lead you to thoughtfully agree to disagree.
And even if you still end up in vehement disagreement, even discussed, you will have flexed your mental muscles in clarifying exactly why you disagree. You will have learned how to engage and respond in a way that is productive. And when you do that, you'll be getting the education you came for. At Cornell, we have six core values articulated and formalized last year through a community wide process of reflection and feedback. They are purposeful discovery, free and open inquiry and expression, a community of belonging, exploration across boundaries, changing lives through public engagement, and respect for the natural environment.
You'll hear more about those values as you participate in your orientation experiences over the next week. But for now, I want very, very briefly just to say a little bit about the first three. Purposeful discovery, you came to Cornell to discover in a way you could not anywhere else take advantage of what is here. You may never again find yourself in a place that is so full of incredibly talented and intelligent people, of opportunities to try new things of scope for new interests. So talk to your fellow students. Get to know your professors and your TAs. Purposeful discovery means not just seeking, but valuing knowledge and valuing truth wherever it's found.
Second, free and open inquiry and expression. Ezra Cornell aspired to found an institution where any person could find instruction in any study. Cornell is a uniquely American university built on uniquely American ideals of diversity, openness, and free speech. Any person, any study is a reflection of that legacy of our founding principle that an institution that is open to people and to ideas will create a better environment for learning than one that is narrow in whom it will admit or what it will teach. Those ideals are now your responsibility.
And third, a community of belonging. The first thing I said to you today, again, repeating what you heard from my fellow speakers, was that all of you, no matter where you're from, no matter what your background, your interests or experience, all of you belong here. You have the right to study, and to learn, to speak, and to be heard.
But in order to speak and to hear and to be heard, you can't have your headphones on. So when you sit down in your classes this week and you're waiting for the professor to start talking, leave your phone in your pocket. Say hello to the person next to you. Ask their name. Ask where they're from. Ask what they did over the summer. And at the next class, do it again. Keep your headphones off and your mind open to everything that is here for you at Cornell.
And if one of these days you see me walking along campus, I probably won't need to ask you for directions. But come and say hi to me anyway. I promise I won't be wearing headphones. We are really and truly so glad to have each of you as new Cornellians. Welcome to you all.
And if everyone who can would please now rise. We're all going to sing the Alma Mater.
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, oh 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, oh hail Cornell.
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President Martha E. Pollack urged new first-year and transfer students to urged to connect and engage—without headphones— at New Student Convocation on Aug. 24, 2019.