JEFFREY BERMAN: Hi, everyone. Good evening. My name is Jeffrey Berman. And together with my wife Elizabeth, it is my privilege to welcome you tonight on behalf of the Cornell Parents Committee.
Elizabeth and I have been members of the Committee for three years and have made many wonderful friends through our involvement with Cornell. Although together we both consider several other colleges and universities our alma maters, Elizabeth and I can attest that Cornell has a very special place in our hearts. And we know that it will for you too.
We are thrilled that today our daughter begins her Cornell career as a freshman in CALs--
--joining her brother Douglas who's in the class of 2017 engineering. As I'm sure you have heard many times, a hallmark of Cornell is the extraordinary breadth of both its educational and extracurricular offerings. What especially stands out to our family is that despite the size and scope of the university, attending Cornell has been a very personal experience for Douglas. And we expect the same will be true for Celia.
The administration and faculty are interested, involved, genuinely caring, and they are very accessible. Parents are an integral part of life at Cornell. And I am pleased that all of you can be here with us tonight for our 11th annual Parenting 101 event.
We are fortunate that Dr. Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student and Campus Life, has joined us to talk about campus life and the experience we can expect to have as our children spend time at Cornell. The Division of Student and Campus Life provides a broad array of programs and services designed to support Cornell students and the campus community, including athletics and physical education, Office of the Dean of Students, University Health Services, Greek life, career services, and Campus and Community Engagement, which includes new student programs and orientation.
Prior to joining Cornell in August, 2015, Dr. Lombardi served as the Vice President for Student Affairs and Affiliated Faculty in the Patton College of Education at Ohio University. He has also worked at Duke University and Colorado College.
Dr. Lombardi received an undergraduate degree in 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 at North Carolina State University. And Dr. Lombardi resides in Ithaca with his wife Dr. Carol Lombardi and his two daughters. So please help me welcome Ryan Lombardi.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Jeff.
Thanks so much. I appreciate it.
JEFFREY BERMAN: Good luck.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thank you. Thank you. Oh, do you need your glasses?
JEFFREY BERMAN: No, I don't want to see.
RYAN LOMBARDI: I don't need those yet. It's getting more and more like it every single day though. Thanks, Jeff. I really appreciate that warm introduction and your willingness to come here. And Elizabeth, you too-- really appreciate all your support of Cornell. And we're delighted to have a second one of yours here joining us. And I hope it's a great experience for her as well.
And hello, welcome, and good evening to all of the parents, family members who are here tonight. Welcome to the Cornell family. We're so glad to have you here. I hope it's been a terrific day. I hope you've had a lot of fun. You're very well rested, I'm sure.
No one's tired at all or glad to be sitting in a cool, air conditioned room. I hope the day went well. Did it go OK though? How were the orientation leaders, pretty helpful?
That's right. They're good. Those students have boundless amounts of energy. So I know they do a lot better than we do. But you know, I was walking around earlier today. I probably met a few of you. I was walking around with our president.
We observed a few funny things out there today. If my slides will get going here, we'll show you some images-- oops-- that we see. Oh, I don't know who this was.
I bet you figured out though that that wouldn't all fit in the residence hall. This happens every time where we go and we walk around and we see a little bit of excess, we'll just say, thinking that they're moving into a three bedroom suite or something along these lines. But in fact. It doesn't quite fit. So we definitely saw some interesting things.
Now I have to confess, I was looking for this today.
I didn't see it however. But I at a previous university which will remain unnamed, I actually did have to turn someone away from that once. And they said, well, what do you mean we can't have a full-size fridge with ice maker and all that good stuff? I said, again, what do you think you're moving into here?
But nonetheless, I hope it was a good day for you. I hope that you can sit back and relax here for a little while. This is designed to be a fairly informal conversation. I want to share a few thoughts that are on our minds, maybe some reflections that are on your minds as we think about the year ahead.
So I want to start just by telling you a little bit-- and Jeff was nice enough to provide the introduction, the formal introduction of me, if you will. But I'm, as he mentioned, the Vice President for Student and Campus Life. This is actually my second year at Cornell. As you heard, I was at Ohio University until August, 2015.
I too am a parent-- if you look up on the top right-hand corner there. I have a little bit of time before I'm sitting in your seat though. My daughters are six and almost nine years old, first and fourth grade. So last year we had the big adjustment with the younger one going into kindergarten.
So probably some of you can remember that like it was yesterday. Every parent I talk to that's moving their students in here says to me, cherish every moment. Because you'll be sitting here before you know it. It happens just that quick. So we have a lot of fun.
But I'm around campus quite a bit. And I want to talk to you a little bit about what Student and Campus Life is, and what we do in our division, and explain to you a little bit about the role that I have here at Cornell. Now when we were walking around today, the President and I, Hunter Rawlings, what he kept telling parents is this is the guy you call if you have problems.
I just want to clear that up tonight.
That's not necessary. You know, I've been trying to help my family understand for the last 20 years what I do for a living. The closest I've been able to help my brothers understand this is by saying two words, Dean Wormer.
For those of you who ever saw Animal House-- I've only heard about it. I don't watch these things as a college administrator. That's the best I could do.
But let me tell you a little bit about the division of Student and Campus Life. You got some of the formal overview there. But we have a very broad role here on campus, which is really special, not the least of which, like I said, was organizing this incredible program that you're experiencing, all the move-in volunteers, overseeing the residence halls and the residential program staff, the dining halls where your students will eat, in addition to obviously, like I said, the residence halls where they live, the stores, the campus store where they may buy their books.
And I'll just apologize in advance. I promise you we make zero money on those books. We're selling them for costs. So that sticker shock that you see, I have it too. Believe me. But maybe they're not buying books anymore. They're renting them and doing other things like that.
We provide the center where students might go if they get sick or if they need to talk to somebody about some mental health issues they may be having or wanting to work through. We're the folks that administer the recreation classes on campus, support our varsity athletes, yes, the ones that oversee that swim test. I don't know if any of your students took that today.
Yup. So if they didn't get it done, they have four years to get it done before they graduate. But they do need to get it done.
So we'll see who the procrastinators are here and who aren't. But we also facilitate a lot of their engagement in campus. As you heard, one of our very large departments on campus is focused on getting them engaged in student organizations, in Greek life if they choose to do so, other independent living opportunities, athletic teams. We put on tons of large-scale, major events on campus, often in this auditorium or other great spaces, and create opportunities for them to engage in the community through service, and public service, and other opportunities like that.
We also promote programs and services to help them explore and express their own cultural identity or their religious and spirituality and learn about those of others. We put on career fairs. And we help them through the career developmental process. And so they can prepare for that thing that you're all hoping they get when they finish up at Cornell, the three letter word, job.
So we've got a great collection of resources in Student and Campus Life. I often think of it as, as it says, the life of the campus. Our role is to support your students and facilitate a world-class environment so they can be successful in their academic pursuits and in their growth as a human being. So that's what me and my colleagues, over 1,200 of us, get up every day thinking about trying to do our best to support your students.
So that's a little bit about Student and Campus Life. And what you'll see tonight and what you'll hear tonight is fairly centric to the Student and Campus Life experience, the life outside of the classroom. You're going to have a great opportunity over the course of the weekend, as will your students, to engage with the academic deans of the various schools and colleges on campus where they'll speak a little more directly about some of the academic experiences, some of the advising resources, their advice, things along those lines. So tonight will be a little bit more about our student life aspects.
So I do want to get a little sense of who you are though. How many in the audience are sending their first to college right now? Hello. All right. That's why you're here, right?
So you've got a whole bunch of things going through your minds right now. I can imagine that. A whole mixture of emotions-- we're going to talk about that.
Let me see if there's anyone in this audience who's sending their last off to school. All right. Did you see how fast those hands went up?
They're like, yes, that's me. And they're actually texting their contractor right now. Convert it to a home theater room, that bedroom-- or a gym or something like that.
How many in the room are alums of Cornell? All right. Thank you for sending your students to us and continuing that great tradition. We're delighted.
So now I want to get a little bit of a sense-- I was going to ask you to stand for this, but it's been a long day. So we're not going to do that. So raise your hand and just keep your hands up if you have sent two or more students, your children or students off to college-- two or more, hands up. All right, a lot of you.
OK, so keep your hand up if you've sent three or more off to college.
SPEAKER 1: Oh, wait-- [LAUGHTER]
RYAN LOMBARDI: DR. RYAN LOMBARDI: She lost count.
How about keep your hands up if you have sent four or more off to school? Anyone? Back here we've got a couple. Is that it? I'm just looking around. All right, they take the cake-- four or more.
So everyone, they're going to come up here.
Yeah, that's right.
What they don't know is they're actually going to take over the session now.
Because they know a lot more than we do.
SPEAKER 2: Grad school too.
RYAN LOMBARDI: And grad school?
SPEAKER 2: Grad school too.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Oh, I'm sorry.
And the collection will be going around.
Well, congratulations. So that's quite a feat. But they are our resident experts. And I may come back to you a little bit later in the program for some advice. And I'll incentivize you to do that. Maybe I'll help out on this last one here at Cornell or something like that.
But no, that's great-- terrific. So a lot of you-- we do have some experts in the room here tonight who have been here and done that. And we're glad to have that.
So I want to take a look and talk a little bit about this class of 2020. Now I recognize some of your students may be transfer students. And so I'm not trying to exclude them here. But I am going to focus for a minute on our incoming first-year student class of 2020.
Now I don't have to tell you that these are quite impressive young individuals. Although you've seen all elements of their life, so you may debate me with that. But--
--that's how many students, 3,342 new first year students, checked in to the residence halls today and are starting their Cornell adventure for the first time as new first-year students. That's how many people wanted to come into Cornell today.
So we had 44,965 students apply for those 3,342 spots that your students are sitting in. It's pretty amazing. It is pretty astonishing. And I hope if nothing else, you've taken just a moment to appreciate that and appreciate the many successes that your students have already fulfilled in their life at the relatively young age, in most cases, of around 18.
Many Cornell alums, and there are some in the audience here tonight, when I share this kind of data, they say, boy I'm glad I went to Cornell a while ago. Because it's gotten so much more competitive. But it's really an impressive class.
A few other things about them-- we have students from 48 of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia. We have 59 countries represented in our new class. 44% of our students identify as students of color. And over 11% of them are first generation students.
So we just put one flag on the US except for that other one on the right. Someone in my office joked and said that was Long Island.
I don't get the joke. I'm not from New York. It's supposed to be district of Columbia.
So that must be the folks from Long Island. I didn't get it, but it's supposed to be DC. But nonetheless-- but we have an incredibly impressive class of new students here at Cornell. It's actually one of the great joys for me and my colleagues to have the chance to work with your students, because they help us learn every day. They're incredibly bright, incredibly special people, as you know.
But as much as you are impressed by them and we're impressed by them, there are a few things you may not know about this class of 2020 as they come through the doors. And actually, my colleagues up at Beloit College every year release a list that helps remind us of exactly what your students have and have not experienced.
So they have always had the opportunity to shop on eBay for their entire lives, if that gets you to reflect a little bit. Some people say this list is helping us to remember where our incoming students are. Other people say it's to help us feel old, which it's very successful in that regard. In addition to that, they've always had access and been able to use the technology around Bluetooth.
My next favorite one, just because I have been a lifelong Broncos fan. I'm not a bandwagon fan just because they won the Super Bowl last year. But I grew up watching John Elway play in Denver. But these two gentlemen have always been retired.
Exactly. I should have said John Elway has always been known as a general manager instead of a quarterback. Outstanding women basketball players have always had their own hall of fame in Knoxville, Tennessee as pictured here. And x-rays have always been digital like this. I got him on that one. He just did that holy cow.
So yes, that's a good reminder for us about the things that our students have experienced in their lives so far and not. And so they're incredibly brilliant. And they're going to teach us a lot. But it's a good framework for us to remember, because life goes quickly. And we move through time quite rapidly.
So I appreciate you bearing with me, as I like to have a little fun to start this off. But I want to talk about a few things so I, again, keep this fairly conversational in manner. But these are the things that I'm going to speak about-- a little bit what you might expect from your student, what you might expect from yourself. I'm only going to try and get into that a little bit, because I don't want to predict that-- what you can expect from us, and them some advice. And that's where I might come back to my friends back here, when we get into the advice.
So what do you expect from your student-- so college and their time here-- those of you who have had more than one student, this isn't your first to go to college, know this. This is an incredible time of growth, and transition, and development in their lives. And in some cases, it might be their first time living away from home. In other cases, maybe not if they've been off to preparatory school before they came here. But it is a big transition for them.
And they are going to change. And they are going to change immensely. And many of you might be sitting there thinking, well, that's not why I want to send them to college. I like them just the way they are.
But I do challenge you to think back, if you would. Take a rewind in your mind four years when they started high school, when you were transitioning them from eighth grade into ninth grade. And think about maybe that class photo. I was actually going to put my freshman year of high school picture up here and my freshman year of college.
But think about that visual image of when they started high school. And then think about them today. And think about how much they've grown in those four years. Take that and amplify it tenfold. And that's what you'll see over their time at Cornell-- maybe even more than tenfold.
And that's OK. That's a good thing. That's why we believe in a college experience, in higher education. Because we want them to change. We want them to grow and develop. We want them to challenge their ways of thinking around all kinds of different issues.
And this is a place where they'll have a great opportunity to do that. You'll hear our president talk about this tomorrow morning in our philosophy around the academic experience here at Cornell. And it's a truly remarkable place for them to be.
But they're also going to make mistakes. We often talk about a four-letter F-word that we're afraid to discuss in college sometimes. It's fail. There are students who are likely to fail. It can happen. It should happen in some cases.
Because all great things in life-- many great things in life, I should say-- came out of adversity, out of trial and tribulation. We tried something. It didn't work. We tried it a different way. It worked. And that's how we created something. That's how we've learned. That's how we grow.
And they're going to make mistakes. They're going to mess up. And I think most of us in the room, at least I would hope, have had that experience at some point in our lives. If you haven't, talk to me afterward so I can understand a little bit better about how you've pulled that off.
But I know I've made plenty of mistakes in my life. And they've made me a better person each and every day, and a better parent today, a better professional, and a better partner. So your students are going to do this too. And they're going to do that while they're here. And I would encourage you to be comfortable with that, and understand that's part of their growth, and to let it happen sometimes.
You've done this when they're younger when they're learning how to do various things, ride bikes or other kinds of things. Let them do it when they're in college as well. It will happen.
But they will still need you too. So there are some that take the approach that, you know what? They're 18. They're going off to college. Boom-- that's it. That's not the case. They are still going to need you. They're still going to expect you in their lives.
Some of you maybe will get that a little bit more often when you're getting the text messages at all hours of the day and night. But they can stay connected to you better than we ever could. And they're going to stay in touch with you. And they still do need you to be there.
But they need you to be there in a different way, a different way than what you've been in the past-- to be a source of advice and counsel as opposed to being the dictator, not that any of you parent like that.
But let me warn you, if you haven't experienced this, and I'm sure our veteran parents in the room have, you're going to get a call sometime from your student. And they're going to be absolutely frantic about something. They're going to be upset, or frustrated, or sad, or emotional. This has probably never happened for any of you yet to this point. But this is going to happen when they're at Cornell.
They're going to call you up. And then somethings going to-- you know, they're going to be talking to you. And they're going to be going on and on about all this stuff. And they're going to hang up, because they're going to get distracted or a friend's going to come-- and hang up, and leave sitting there like, oh my gosh. What's going on?
And you're going to have this feeling like, oh, I've got to do something. I've got to do something. And you're going to start calling around. And you're going to be trying to help them out. And what's going on? You're going to be calling them back, texting them, doing all this kind of stuff.
And then you'll finally maybe get in touch with the next morning, finally. And you'll be like, are you doing OK? I've been so worried about you. You were so upset. They'll be like, what are you talking about?
Everything's fine. Everything's OK. Yes, we got over that hours ago. Gosh, mom, what's going on? So that's going to happen.
My advice-- my advice-- and we'll get other's advice potentially later on here-- my advice is when that happens, sometimes just let it set for a little bit. Let them see if they can work through some of those issues. Don't feel like you've got to jump right in and save the day.
You will absolutely want to do that. But let them experience some of that on their own. And let them try to figure their pathway through in that regard.
And they're going to surprise you along the way too, hopefully mostly in good ways. But they're going to surprise you along this journey of higher education. You're going be surprised at how much they grow, how much they learn, how much they develop.
You may see that right away. You may see that the first time they come home during their first year here at Cornell. It may take a little longer before you really get that moment. But it's going to happen. And it's going to be special.
And at some point, you're going to look back and hopefully just have an immense sense of pride like you probably do today as you're dropping them off here. And you're going to think, wow, that's a really special individual. I can't believe I had something to do with that. And that's a good thing.
So what to expect from yourself-- now as you saw, full disclosure, I've not been through this yet. I don't necessarily envy where you're sitting right now. You know, I'm still at the point with my kids where even just thinking about that gets me emotional, this moment that you're having right now where they go off to college.
And I've had a lot of interaction with parents over the years who are doing this. And they said, don't worry. That's what the teenage years are for.
That will get you ready for them to go off to college.
I'm hopeful that's not the case. But I've learned a little bit over the years from interacting with parents. And this is going to be hard on you too. I'm sure of it. Whether it's your last and your fourth or whether it's your first, this is a transition for you.
And if you haven't acknowledged that, and if you and your partner, whomever-- maybe if you had shared responsibility or single responsibility for raising these young folks, there's a transition there for you too. And it can be very hard on you. And you're going to want to still be the parent. You're going to want to save the day.
Maybe not-- I think our friends back here in the back are like, we're good. We got it, you know?
They're out. But you're going to want to still jump in and save the day. But like I said, you've got to let them figure some of this out on your own.
But I just want you to know, because you heard Jeff mention this, that we do view you as partners. And we understand and appreciate that transition. And we understand when there are going to be moments over the next four years when you're going to need a little help probably too. And you're going to need someone to lean on or someone to talk to.
And I would really encourage you to use the resources and use the Cornell network, other parents that may be in your area, or that you've connected with this weekend, or that you will connect with over the coming years-- use those folks as you're going through your own transition. But we do take incredibly seriously that trust that you're putting in us. Because I can't imagine the gamut of emotions you're going through right now and what you were going through earlier today. Again, I experienced a lot of this as I was talking to folks today. I can imagine that.
Help your students. Guide them to the resources. Don't do it for them. Help them understand how to seek out help, and ask questions, and figure these problems out. That's one of the greatest things you can do and one of the greatest lessons you can provide to them.
But my sense is that parenting right now might be just as hard as it's ever been. I don't know that for a fact myself. But this is a transition point, and you have to be very, very intentional about every step you take.
Some have said, you know, it's easy when they're the age that I have them. Although you have to watch them like a hawk 24/7, some of the decisions are some of the conversations later on carry a lot more weight than the ones that I'm having with my kids right now. At least that's what I've been told. We'll see, but that's my thinking as it relates to you as you think about this.
And I would encourage you not to put too much pressure on either yourself or on them. Students today carry an immense amount of pressure on their shoulders. They're taking in information at a stream and at a pace that I couldn't have even dreamed of quite frankly when I was in school.
They feel a lot of responsibility about being at a place like Cornell, a lot of responsibility to be successful. They have been incredibly successful just to get through the doors, quite frankly. And I would encourage you not to amplify that pressure. And be careful about putting it on yourself and about putting it on them. Because there are real side effects to that. And it can really be distressful for them and really have a negative impact on their college experience.
I'll tell you a story once. I was at a previous university. And it was after the first semester. And we were doing this parents program. And it was kind of a session like this. And we were talking to some parents. You know, how's the first semester? How did it go?
And like we will here tonight, we were doing a little Q&A. And a parent came up and said, you know, I'm really distressed. I've got a problem, really big problem. We said, well, what is it? By all means.
Well, we just got the grades from the first semester. And my student, they got a B. And I was just waiting for the next punch line. And thankfully, another parent the audience said, I wish my kid got a B.
It was a great moment of levity to remind us that look, maybe many of your students have never had that experience before. But they probably will in the future. And that will be OK.
Maybe they won't. I'm not suggesting that everyone's going to do it. But just the point is about the pressure and not putting an undue amount of pressure on them that will only contribute to the pressure they're already putting on themselves.
Believe me. I've only spent a year at Cornell here. And I know my colleagues would echo this, those who have been here longer than I have. But our students do feel an immense amount of pressure to be successful.
Their professors will hold them to a very, very high standard. They will hold themselves to a very high standard. Their peers-- so they have enough of it. Let me just assure you of that.
So what you can expect from Cornell-- that's a beautiful shot, by the way. Isn't it? If you're ever down on the lake on the water, this is just a great vantage point of campus.
So what to expect from Cornell-- I think the first and most important thing I can say about this is that I think we have a lot of the same mutual goals here. Just like you, the thing that we want the very most for your students is for them to have an incredible college experience and be extremely successful in all that they pursue here. That is our goal, to help them make the most of this, to help them have that incredible experience and do wonderfully while they're here at Cornell.
We have a lot of resources in place to help them. Where they move into campus today up on North Campus, an incredible set of resources, and infrastructure, and support up there with the staff that live in the residence halls, to the Carol Tatkon Center, and all the staff, and new student programs, and residential programs-- just a wonderful array of resources.
And then as they move through their time here and get involved in life outside the classroom in different organizations-- I mentioned potentially Greek life-- all types of different facets of the Cornell experience, we want them to be successful. We want it to be special.
For those alums that are in the room and there's a reason that you encouraged or you supported-- you didn't encourage your students to go here, right? No one did that. You supported them applying to Cornell. And you're glad that they're here, because you had such an incredible experience.
That's what we want for them. That's our goal. And we want to be your partners in helping to realize that goal.
But we want them to grow just like just like you may. And we're going to challenge them to do that. The faculty are going to challenge them immensely, as I just said. And we're going to challenge him in other ways too and try to get them to grow as much as possible while they're here.
We do care deeply about their health and well-being. College is a stressful time. Being a young adult and adolescent is a very difficult time in life. And again, the pressures in society, at Cornell, and the world today, they're definitely there. And we care deeply about their health and well-being.
I've got a colleague here tonight. If you have questions about that, they'll be happy to address some of those issues. We put a lot of time, and energy, and resources into providing support and care as it relates to their health and well-being.
While we are partners in this journey and I want to make sure that you know that-- we very much believe that-- there are at times limits to that partnership in terms of what we might be able to share with you or not share with you. As they are growing and developing through their time here, there will be times when we might not be able to tell you some of the things you'd like to hear about a medical situation they may have or about-- you know, if you call me up and say, well, what did they get in Math 103 or something like that, I'm not just going to spout that off at you.
There are things like that you're going to have to work directly with your student on and that we might say no to. That doesn't mean we don't want to be your partners. What that means is we're trying to encourage that direct communication between you and your students and that we don't want to get in the middle of it.
But like I said, at the end of the day, our goal is to help them thrive here, to have an incredible experience. But they absolutely need to play an active role in that. Again, you'll hear Hunter, President Rawlings, tomorrow talk about this and talk about the need for them to be active participants in this process of learning.
They've done that to this point to get in the door at Cornell. This isn't a place where they come, and sit in a lecture hall, and just wait to absorb, and soak it in, and that's somehow through osmosis going to help them be smarter, better, well-rounded people. They have to engage in the Cornell experience to get the most of it. And we're going to help them do that.
All right, so I do want to do some advice now. And we're going to do a little bit of advice. And then we're going to get into some Q&A here before too long.
So advice-- would you all be willing to offer a few tips of advice if I call on you, our veteran parents?
SPEAKER 2: Sure.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Would you be willing to do that? Can we--
SPEAKER 2: Sure.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Can we get them a mic maybe back there? Would one of my colleagues here mind taking a-- Jen, would you mind just pulling that out of the thing and-- we're going to have a little gift for them for giving-- so these are the folks that had four that they've put through college and graduate school.
SPEAKER 2: Law school.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Law school-- oh my gosh.
Not just graduate school, law school. So if you would, what kind of advice-- I've got a few things of advice too. But if you could offer any advice to your fellow parents here tonight, what would it be?
SPEAKER 2: Is this on?
RYAN LOMBARDI: Yes it is. Introduce yourself if you wouldn't mind. And where are you from?
SPEAKER 2: We're the Brenners. Were from Saratoga Springs, New York.
RYAN LOMBARDI: All right, very good. Anyone else Saratoga Springs? No. OK, sorry. No love there.
SPEAKER 2: First advice is the day they're born, start saving. Open up a bank account.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Start saving. Have them open a bank account, ans start saving.
SPEAKER 2: Home equity loans are very easy to get, tax on it.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Home equity loans-- very good.
SPEAKER 2: Drive an old car.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Drive an old car.
SPEAKER 2: And just love your children. We've given them everything we can. Education was critical to us for them.
My wife has been behind them all these years. And it's been a very great experience. We're very proud of them for the work and the effort that they've put in.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Wonderful.
SPEAKER 2: And it's important to be behind them all the time.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Absolutely. Thank you very much.
SPEAKER 2: Thank you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great advice.
Two of them-- you want to give them two? So I would love to be able to offer you, you know, free tuition for a couple semesters or something like that.
How about a couple of t-shirts? Will that do?
I used to have one where I would say that everybody who sat in the front row-- because, you know, we always tell students they should sit up in the front row-- everyone who sat in the front row got free tuition. But we had four people do that tonight. And I--
--couldn't afford that. So sorry. Sorry. No, but thank you so much. That was great advice and heartfelt too. As proud as you are of them, I'm sure they're proud of you as well and appreciative of all that you've given them.
So let me give you a few pieces of advice. I mentioned before, take advantage of this network and the resources here at Cornell. The Cornell network is incredibly vast, strong, and powerful. I didn't have a full appreciation for that before I became a staff member here. I imagine our parents would echo that sentiment.
Meet and connect with the parents that live in your region, with, like I said, other parents you've met here today or that you will over the four years that your students are here longer if they stay for graduate school, or law school, or anything like that. But use that network. Lean on other people. You're not going through this alone. And engage in that regard.
Have the tough conversations with each other and with your students. Don't shy away from those. You've done this your whole life as you've been raising them. Make sure it doesn't stop now.
Ask questions. So there's a lot of research that suggests that you should stay engaged in your student's life by asking the same kinds of questions you might have asked them around the dinner table as they were growing up, trying to understand what's going on in their lives. That's the kind of connection you can still have that will make a difference.
So ask those questions. Sometimes have the difficult conversations. It will be more difficult to do now when you're not face to face with them. Because they can say they've got to go, and you can't force them to sit there at the dinner table with you. But I would encourage you to still do that.
Stay in touch, and give them space at the same time. I'm not trying to contradict myself there. They do still want to hear from you. They'll still want to hear from you on those special occasions or just out of the random blue.
Some of them may ask you to wake them up every morning with a text message. I would tell them no, you're not going to do that-- unless you really want to do that. Who am I to say?
But also give them that space. And understand that you may get that call. You may get that call where they're struggling with something, and frantic, and they hang up. And give them a little bit of space to figure things out at the same time. That can only be beneficial.
Encourage them to connect with their faculty. This, I think, is one of the greatest lost opportunities that students don't take advantage of when they're in college is connecting with their faculty. The faculty here at Cornell are some of the best in the world. I mean, they're absolutely incredible, the work that they're doing, the research they're doing, and how well they understand their field.
And so often, students will go through an experience, and they'll go to class for 16 weeks and never get to know their professors. So I always encourage students to just take a couple minutes and make sure they introduce themselves. It's very simple. I always say to students, listen, every semester when you go to your classes for the first time, after the class is over, go up and approach your professor. Approach your faculty member.
Just go up to him for three seconds after the class. Hi. My name's Ryan Lombardi. I'm in your class this semester. I'm really looking forward to it. Have a nice day. That's all it takes. Just introduce yourself.
Hopefully then maybe they'll go to an office hour. The professor will see them in class later. They can start to develop a little bit of a relationship. These faculty are prizes for your students to take advantage of while they're here. They're just special, special people. So encourage them to connect with their faculty.
Encourage them to get involved and be engaged in the life of campus. I talked about all the great things and resources that we have within Student and Campus Life for them to do that. Encourage them to do that.
I'm sure to this point they've been doing that in high school, probably constantly, right? If anything you're excited about, it's not driving the car every which way, and dropping them off constantly, and doing all that. Encourage them to get involved here.
But let me just offer one piece of advice as it relates to that involvement. Encourage them to focus on their depth of involvement, not necessarily their breath. So maybe they're accustomed to being the president of 10 or 12 different student organizations. Maybe they should narrow that down a little bit and focus on a couple things that are just really key to them and really important to them that they can sink their teeth into and really develop a true passion for and make a big difference in.
So I would encourage that involvement, but focus it in a little bit here as they go through college-- and to try different things too. Encourage them not to just jump right into the same things they might have done in high school. Try some things that they haven't done before that are new to them.
Please help them become aware of their health. Hopefully you've been doing that for the last 18 or however many years you've had them under your roof. But in college in particular, that's a time where many students-- and I think I probably fell into this category when I was in college-- tend to neglect their health a little bit.
In fact, I used to advise a student organization again, at another institution. And they used to have a tag line that said, I'll sleep when I'm dead. They were proud of it, right? Because they're, you know-- they're 20 years old. You know, they actually can get by pretty well for a day or two with very little sleep.
But it's going to catch up to them. It is absolutely going to catch up to them. And encourage them to be aware of their health. Sleep is a very foundational thing, but it goes a lot beyond that.
We do have an incredible health facility on this campus with very talented professionals. They should engage regularly with that facility. Just as you probably do and have a primary care physician that you go and see even when you're not sick, not too early for them to start that. Not too early for them to engage with our counseling and psychological staff and make sure that they're always mindful of how they're doing. Eating well, getting exercise, all the basic stuff-- it makes even more of a difference when they're in college.
And especially for those of you who haven't experienced Ithaca winters yet, I'm told staying active in the winter can be especially important. Now last winter was my first winter here in Ithaca. And we only had to shovel the driveway one time. So all this warning I got before I moved up here, I wasn't sure what that was about. I think you all got more snow down in the city, and in Philly, and those kinds of places than we did up here.
But that's not the norm. It will be cold, and gray, and snowy up here. My colleagues are nodding and telling me to be prepared. But staying active, staying fit, and being aware of their health in the winter is particularly important as well.
So those are a couple of pieces of advice I have. There are many other sources of advice, and probably good advice, that's out there. You heard a little bit from some veterans here in the audience tonight.
But I want to close off before we get into some dialogue and Q&A just again by thanking you for choosing Cornell, for supporting your students in their choice of Cornell. We are so glad to have them as a part of our community. They give us hope every single day. We enjoy working with them immensely. Like I said, we wake up every day just excited to come in and support their experience.
And we're also glad that you're here. We appreciate the trust that you've placed in us. We know that your sons, daughters, your students are among, if not your very most prized possession. My wife's parents once said my father in law's Corvette was his favorite thing. But we know they are. And so we're so grateful for your willingness to trust us with them.
And I look forward to getting to know you. I look forward to getting to know your students. And we look forward to getting to know you over the coming years. Thank you very much.
So we do have a few minutes. And we left that time intentionally. And I have invited some of my colleagues here tonight. Because as much as I'd like to think sometimes that I know everything, I don't. But I am going to introduce each of them and ask them to stand up and just wave so you can see who they are. And then we're going to do a little Q&A if there's anything that's on your mind.
So first is Travis Apgar. Travis overseas our fraternities, sororities, independent living as a Senior Associate Director in Campus and Community Engagement.
Rebecca Sparrow is the Executive Director of Cornell Career Services.
Kathy Zoner is our Chief of Police.
Dr. Greg Eells is the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services.
And Dr. Joseph Burke is the Executive Director for Campus and Community Engagement.
So again, we have just a few minutes to do a few Q&A. So if you have a question that you think might be a general question that are on other people's minds, I would invite you to ask it at this time. If it's something really specific to your student, a situation very focused on your issue, let's not talk about that for the whole group and air that out. We'll stick around. And we can answer some of those afterwards individually so you don't have to air that out.
And also again, I remind you that if your question is specific to kind of the academic experience, and academic advising, and some of those things, you'll have a chance with your colleges-- your students have a chance with their colleges over the weekend. So if you have a question, we've got microphones right in each of the aisles. And come on up. And we will do it.
Sir, just come on up to the mic. And if you don't mind me asking you to just introduce yourself and where you're from. And shoot your question out there. And one of us will be happy to address it.
SPEAKER 3: I'm Bruce Kowalski. My son's Kevin in the College of Engineering.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great.
SPEAKER 3: We're from Chicago.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Welcome.
SPEAKER 3: I didn't know if you could just touch base a little bit on the fraternity and Greek life. How prevalent is it here? When will they start to pledge if that's something they're going to do? I know with my older son, they couldn't do it until they were sophomores.
RYAN LOMBARDI: OK, yup. Yeah, we'll be happy to talk about that. And it's great we have Travis here, because he is our resident expert on those and more issues. So Travis, you want to take that one?
TRAVIS APGAR: Sure. Is this on? Hi. Good evening, everyone. So fraternities and sororities-- there's about 64 of them involved in three different councils. It's been a part of Cornell since the very beginning, so it's very much a part of student life.
About a third of the undergraduate population belongs to a fraternity or sorority. So it's pretty popular. But obviously, there are two thirds that don't. So there is a place for everyone at Cornell.
We have a deferred recruitment process. In other words, students join-- they can join, rather-- in the second semester of their first year or after that. And so formal recruitment for both fraternities, sororities, culturally based fraternities and sororities all starts to happen second semester. Although there will be a lot of information shared during the fall.
Did I answer all your questions?
SPEAKER 3: Yep.
TRAVIS APGAR: Great.
RYAN LOMBARDI: And they'll start to see information about that towards the end of the fall, Travis, or right as they're getting ready to come back for spring first year?
TRAVIS APGAR: Yeah. So they'll start to see information as the fall kind of moves on. But a lot of it will be toward the middle and later part of the fall semester. They'll learn more about how the spring semester works. And if they are interested in spring recruitment, all of that information will be publicly available.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Good question.
TRAVIS APGAR: A really site-- greeks.cornell.edu makes it very easy-- greeks.cornell.edu. That's our home page. And it also has links to all the students sites as well.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Yeah. Our Greek community here are really proud of our students who lead those organizations. They're trying to be a model for the United States. You read different things about fraternities and sororities-- newspapers, other things. And not that we don't occasionally have issues here at Cornell too, but our student leaders who run these organizations are trying very hard to be a model for Greek life. So I'm very proud of them.
Yup. You want to go up to the mic there? Thank you, sir-- just so everyone can hear you.
SPEAKER 4: Absolutely. Hi. My name Ali Tabshuri. I'm from Louisiana. And my daughter is in the College of Engineering.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Engineering.
SPEAKER 4: And I have two questions. One, you had mentioned that you have a great medical facility here, and they need to get involved. Do you offer programs like six-month checkups and stuff like that? I mean, my daughter is very healthy. She doesn't need that. But I think it's great for somebody to start at an early age, you know?
The other thing is I want to ask about security, because the chief of police here. Those are the two questions.
RYAN LOMBARDI: So the first is about health. And I'll ask Dr. Eells to do that. And then second, security just in general or--
SPEAKER 4: In general.
RYAN LOMBARDI: OK. So after he finishes, we'll ask Chief Zoner to maybe just give a little overview of the university police and our approach to security here on campus.
GREG EELLS: Yeah, it's a full service health service.
SPEAKER 4: Awesome.
GREG EELLS: Welcome, everybody. And we do offer primary care, mental health care, and checkups can be a part of that as well. So you can schedule appointments online. Your son or daughter has access to that. So it's a very accessible service.
It provides a full range of services-- lab, x-ray, pharmacy, so a full range of medical care.
SPEAKER 4: Awesome.
RYAN LOMBARDI: And is the only limitation in terms of frequency, if you want to do a every six months or-- that's more probably related to the insurance, whatever their insurance would cover?
GREG EELLS: Yup. That's a good point. So it depends on the student health insurance. But if you're on the student health insurance, Gannett is the primary health care site for you. And if not, you can still schedule those visits.
Some of those things are covered under the student health fee. So even if you do have your own insurance and have paid the student healthy, you still have access to some routine care visits.
RYAN LOMBARDI: OK.
SPEAKER 4: Terrific, thank you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: And then Chief Zoner, if you want to talk a little bit about the university police force and our approach to safety, that would be great.
KATHY ZONER: Sure. Hi, everybody. Welcome. I am a chief of police that started as a dispatcher here at Cornell 25 years ago. So I have a big investment in this community in various different aspects of our offices. We're a private, sworn, armed peace officer in the state of New York. So we have full arrest powers. We operate 24/7, 365. Even when you're not here, we're here.
We have a cadre of police auxiliary, which students can apply for if they choose to join us. They provide the blue light escort walking escort program integrated with our blue light bus services and the blue light safety lights that are across campus. We do have the blue light safety lights well immersed within the campus. But we also talk to people about appropriate use of their cell phone in contacting us through 9-1-1 or safety apps that allow the one-button press. We find that most people tend to still dial us on the phone itself.
We have our own 9-1-1 center. The 9-1-1 you call from your cell phone goes to Tompkins County agency. But as soon as they know you're at Cornell, they take the initial information, but they transfer the call directly to us.
Our response time is about two minutes for an emergency call almost anywhere on campus. We have about a seven minute response time to those non-emergency calls. So other than having to prioritize higher level calls at a very high call volume, we have a very quick response time.
We also have an outreach and education function in our crime prevention unit, as well as our regular staff are all almost all trained to be first level teachers. So we do a lot of programming on pretty much you name it, everything from "Ask a Cop--" which, you know, bring all your questions and concerns to us, and we'll try to answer them-- to defined programs on sexual assault prevention and awareness, alcohol awareness, how to not lose your stuff when you're here at Cornell.
And in addition to that, every week, every Friday I send out a short message. Many of your students may have shared that with you already. The first one today was very, very long.
There are three subjects, maybe two or three lines a piece, a lot of information embedded in links within that message. And we hit the highlights of what's bothering our campus or what I see we need a boost in. Basically, most of those are quit walking into traffic because you're looking at your cell phone. Use cross walks. If you're riding a bicycle, obey the laws-- those types of things.
But I try to make it fun and engaging. So you'll see some buried little fun links so that if they're fishing around for them, they might actually get some information as well. Any other specific questions?
SPEAKER 4: No. Thank you very much.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, and I would--
I would just say, we're really lucky here to have a chief like Chief Zoner here and also a police force as thoughtful as the force that we have here at Cornell. I think law enforcement officers who choose to work on a college campus do so with an understanding that it's a different kind of environment than it is in a municipality or other things like that. And these are people that care, just like you heard me say, about the development and the success of your students-- I think is very much the ethos that I've seen in the staff that KZ employs.
Sorry, we call her KZ. I apologize--
-that she employs. So--
KATHY ZONER: You can call me KZ too. It's OK.
RYAN LOMBARDI: [LAUGHTER]
Great. Other questions? Yeah, sure. Hop on up.
SPEAKER 5: OK, thank you. Julia Richard from Phoenix--
RYAN LOMBARDI: All right.
SPEAKER 5: And my son is also in the School of Engineering.
RYAN LOMBARDI: All right, well, the engineering--
SPEAKER 5: [LAUGHTER]
RYAN LOMBARDI: --folks know how to ask questions.
SPEAKER 5: Well represented, right?
RYAN LOMBARDI: That's right, yeah.
SPEAKER 5: When I saw the slide about career services, I thought--
RYAN LOMBARDI: Yes.
SPEAKER 5: --well, that's four years down the road. But then I thought, well, no, even the first year students are probably eager to--
RYAN LOMBARDI: Yup.
SPEAKER 5: --think about what they'll be doing next summer. So my question is, at what point should they get in touch with career services?
RYAN LOMBARDI: Perfect.
REBECCA SPARROW: Thanks for that question.
RYAN LOMBARDI: I know that Rebecca will be glad that you asked that.
REBECCA SPARROW: Yes, I am. Because the answer to that is we want to work with students as soon as they dare to come in to see us and start working with us. The earlier they start thinking about options, and their strengths and abilities, and matching those up with opportunities that are out there, the more effective they're going to be. And so if a student is ready to come in and talk to us during freshman, year we are excited about that.
And many times students come in freshman year thinking about how do they prepare for an on-campus job. So they may be looking for something on campus. They go to apply. And they say, you need a resume. So the student comes in and sees us at that point.
But we like to talk to students about how they're collecting experiences, doing things over the summers. In engineering, the good news for those of you who are parents of engineering students is the internships are starting earlier and earlier in engineering, not necessarily after freshman year, but certainly there are a lot of opportunities after sophomore year.
And so students need to be thinking about those things. If they wait till senior year, that's OK. We'll still deal with them. But they're going to be better off if they start early.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thank you. Yep. We probably have time for one or two more. So if you'd like-- yep.
SPEAKER 6: Hi, I'm Margaret Meixner, and my daughter's in Arts and Sciences.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Arts and Sciences, all right. Sorry, no offense to the engineering but--
And where are you from?
SPEAKER 6: Baltimore, Maryland.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Baltimore, Maryland-- great. Welcome.
SPEAKER 6: Thanks. Two questions-- one is whether or not the medical centers have flu shots for all the students. And the second question I had was I noticed on the calendar there were a number of sort of three day weekends, or fall holiday, or something. And I was wondering, do most students stay on campus for those short stints, or do they go home?
RYAN LOMBARDI: Sure. So I'll first say that I got my flu shot last year from our friends over at the health center. So yes, absolutely.
GREG EELLS: Yeah. The answer is yes. And the university pays for flu shots for students. So it's covered in the--
RYAN LOMBARDI: No charge.
GREG EELLS: No charge.
SPEAKER 6: And is it advertised that they should come and get flu shots?
GREG EELLS: Yes. Flu clinics all over campus-- we come find administrators--
RYAN LOMBARDI: We-- [LAUGHTER]
GREG EELLS: --give them flu shots. So yeah.
RYAN LOMBARDI: It's true.
GREG EELLS: Just for the fun of it.
RYAN LOMBARDI: [LAUGHTER]
No, we do. We consider that included, because you can imagine with 22,000 students here in this environment, we want everyone to stay as healthy as possible. And if a bad flu virus gets in the works, it can wreak havoc on campus. So absolutely, they advertise it very well.
I was a little bit tardy actually in doing it just because of my own lackadaisy. It wasn't for a lack of advertising. That's for sure.
And then on the breaks, you know, because we draw students from so far around, I really find students stay here most of the times, especially on these just relatively short breaks where it's just a long weekend or something like that. I didn't really feel the campus clear out unless it was those longer breaks, I mean, certainly winter break. Spring break, full week-- likely to see many more students leaving.
But when you're talking about just the kind of long weekends that get sprinkled here and there maybe, the vast majority of our students are staying here. Remember we have students from 59 countries. They're certainly unlikely to go home on those weekends. They may go somewhere else, or do a regional trip, or something like that. But I find on those short breaks, most people stay here.
SPEAKER 6: OK.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Did that help?
SPEAKER 6: Mhm.
RYAN LOMBARDI: All right, great. Is there maybe one more? I'm just cognizant of time. Yeah, sure. Come on down. I don't want to ignore people further back. I was warned not to do that.
Oh, there you go. That's exactly right.
Since I didn't give out free tuition, they got to ask a question.
SPEAKER 7: Hi.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Hi, how are you?
SPEAKER 7: My name is Roxana. And we flew in from Qatar, which in the Middle East.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Yup.
SPEAKER 7: So for the international students.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Welcome.
SPEAKER 7: I have two questions.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Tell us about your student.
SPEAKER 7: Oh, he's an engineer.
That was a given.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Yeah, that's right. I should have known, right?
SPEAKER 7: Two questions-- one is for students who want to learn to drive and get a driver's license, are there driving schools here, and how does that work? Are students encouraged to do it during the vacations when they go back home? And how does that work if you're an international student?
And the second one is, if there is just one resource that parents can use to stay in touch and find out important announcements, what would that be?
RYAN LOMBARDI: Sure. So let me take the second half first. And then I'm going to see if anyone down here knows the question-- that's a really good question on the first one. I have not heard that before. Everyone's looking at the chief.
I don't think she teaches driving, but--
They just nodded.
SPEAKER 7: [INAUDIBLE]
RYAN LOMBARDI: On the second one, there are a couple of resources for parents. First of all, parents.cornell.edu is a great website. If you just go to cornell.edu, you'll see "For Parents." But we also actually send a newsletter out.
So I would encourage your student, in their student essentials in their student information system, they should make sure that they can put your contact information in there. There's a place in there I believe for parent e-mail contact information. Make sure that's in there.
And then our University Communications department sends out about a monthly update with information specifically for parents. Now most of that information is culled off of our "Cornell Chronicle" and our other internal resources. So our web has a ton of resources about all those things that are going on if you go to the main cornell.edu. But that electronic newsletter is something that comes out very regularly.
But it's also the kind of thing where we really do want you to call if you have questions or you're not sure about something that may be going on or some way to advise your student on how they should utilize all the resources here. We very much encourage you, if you need to, feel free to pick up the phone and call someone in Student and Campus Life. And we'd be glad to help you.
So are you going to take a crack at that? Or maybe you do know the answer.
KATHY ZONER: I'm going to take a crack at it.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Yeah.
KATHY ZONER: OK, great. So New York state is odd.
RYAN LOMBARDI: [LAUGHTER]
KATHY ZONER: And it recognizes some International of driver's licenses, but not all. They prefer that there's a copy in English. If the holder has one in their native language or language of country of origin, that's fine. It's not very helpful if they get pulled over. It delays the process quite a bit.
So any questions you have around that, I would go down to the Department of Motor Vehicles for the legality and how to train. You would probably have to go through some sort of testing through them as well. And they're there pretty conveniently located downtown.
The other piece of that is that driving schools are all private. And the university doesn't have any that they're affiliated with. You want to fill in some more on that?
REBECCA SPARROW: The other thing I'll just say from my personal experience-- my daughter was a Cornell student. And she had a boyfriend during some of that time who was an international student who was living in the US though. He went through this trying to learn how to drive and needing to take the driver test.
And the trick for him ended up being when he actually had to take the test, he needed the car. And so guess who got to go to the DMV with this student? So that does become a little bit of a thing when you've learned how to drive and you have the number of hours, you still need to take that driving test. So you have to make a connection with someone who will go with you for the test.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Sounds like Rebecca's got a car that she's willing to--
REBECCA SPARROW: But they have to learn how to drive stick.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Oh, it's manual?
REBECCA SPARROW: Yeah.
SPEAKER 7: OK, thank you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: All right.
SPEAKER 7: Thank you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great, thank you. So we, in the interest of time-- because recognizing you may have other things tonight like a bed or lots of rest-- we're going to wrap. I do want to say thank you again. We will stay here if there were some unanswered questions, if you want to come up and talk to us.
Thank you again for being here. We're delighted to have you. And have a wonderful weekend.
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Ryan Lombardi, vice president for Student and Campus Life, discusses the academic, social, and health support systems on campus with parents and families of new students during Orientation. Together with colleagues, he answers questions about what to expect as Cornell parents.