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Another Alumna on the Supreme Court?
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Friday, 01 May 2009

Ruth Bader Ginsburg '54 already represents Cornell on the U.S. Supreme Court. But could another alumna be on the way to join her?

In the wake of the news that David Souter would be retiring from the court, several news sources—including CNN and the New York Times—have mentioned Leah Ward Sears '76 as a possible replacement.

Sears, currently chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, would be the first African American woman to serve on the nation's highest court. She was profiled by Brad Herzog '90 in the July/August 2007 issue of CAM*. In that article, attorney Christopher Madden said: "Given her age and demographics, I can certainly envision a Democratic president wanting to put her on the U.S. Supreme Court. But that's like being struck by lightning."

 

*Unfortunately, the article is not available online at this time.

 
Faculty Salaries Frozen Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 April 2009

As the University adjusts to a new financial reality, one thing that's not being cut is faculty compensation. As the Daily Sun reports, Provost Kent Fuchs has asserted that Cornell must maintain its current level of faculty pay to remain competitive. Faculty salaries have been frozen, says Fuchs, but they will not be reduced. The median salary for a full professor in the endowed colleges is now $154,300—but that number is pulled upward by the multi-million-dollar earnings of some Medical college professors, whose income includes fees from their clinical practices.

One problem in these tough times, as the Sun article notes, is that tenured professors do not have a mandatory retirement age and thus can remain on the University payroll at full salary indefinitely. "Personally, I don’t think there should be tenure without mandatory retirement," said ILR professor Ronald Ehrenberg, an expert in higher education finance. "We need to work on making [the position of] Professor Emeritus more desirable."

 
Milstein Hall on Hold Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 April 2009

To provide information during the construction "pause," the University has established a website that provides information on the current status of all approved capital projects. According to the Daily Sun, this has helped to "appease faculty concerns" about which projects are moving ahead—and which are not.

One that isn't, at least for now, is Milstein Hall. The oft-delayed and controversial new home for the Architecture college is not on the list. Its status is being reviewed, and no date has yet been announced for a decision about when (or if) it will be built.

 
Happy Birthday, Morris Print E-mail
Wednesday, 15 April 2009

In addition to being tax day, April 15 is the birthday of Morris Bishop 1913, PhD ’26.

Garrison Keillor paid tribute to Bishop during his segment on NPR's "Writer's Alamanac." As Keilor noted, Bishop was well known for his light verse—but he's perhaps best known to most Cornellians as the author of A History of Cornell (1962, Cornell University Press), the definitive account of the University's history from the founding up to about 1960.

Keillor said:

It's the birthday of humorist and biographer Morris Bishop, born in Willard, New York (1893). His dad was a doctor, and Morris Bishop was born at the Willard State Hospital for the Insane, where his father and grandfather worked.

He studied Romance languages at Cornell and then became a full-time professor there, and he stayed at Cornell for the rest of his career. He was a brilliant scholar, fluent in German, Swedish, French, Spanish, Latin, and modern Greek. He wrote biographies of Pascal, Champlain, La Rochefoucauld, Petrarch, and St. Francis. But we remember him best as the author of light verse, such as this:

I lately lost a preposition:
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair.
And angrily I cried: "Perdition!
Up from out of in under there!"

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor;
And yet I wondered: "What should he come
Up from out of in under for?"

 
Endowment Decline Continues Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 March 2009

On this site and in the March/April 2009 issue of the print magazine, CAM reported that Cornell's long-term investments (LTI) had declined 27 percent between June 30 and December 31, 2008. The value of those investments—which include the endowment and two smaller funds—had dropped from $6.1 billion on June 30 to $4.5 billion at the end of the calendar year.

In the prospectus for this week's sale of $305 million in tax-exempt bonds for capital projects, the University reported that the investment decline has continued:

"Since June 30, 2008, significant volatility and decline in world financial markets have impacted all major asset classes in which the LTI is invested. As of February 28, 2009, the estimated fair value of the LTI has declined by approximately 31 percent from June 30, 2008. This estimate is unaudited and does not reflect updated real estate and private equity valuations for which valuations are provided on a quarterly basis."

 
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