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Cyber Insecurity
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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The U.S. Department of Defense has named Fred Schneider '75, the Eckert Professor of Computer Science, to its Defense Science Board, a standing committee that advises Pentagon leaders on cybersecurity issues. Schneider also serves on the Department of Commerce's Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board and co-chairs Microsoft's external advisory board on trustworthy computing, and he is chief scientist of the National Science Foundation-funded TRUST Science and Technology Center, a collaboration involving researchers at five universities, including Cornell. According to the Cornell press release, Schneider is one of only seven university-affiliated appointees among the board's 39 new members.

An interview with Schneider appears in CAM's January/February 2010 issue. "In about a decade," he predicts, "we will move to a world in which life and limb are at stake."

Cornell Nixes Gas Leases Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 December 2009

On December 23, University Communications issued a statement declaring that Cornell is not considering the leasing of any university-owned land for gas drilling and that, "furthermore, we are announcing a moratorium on any such consideration until federal or state guidelines on natural gas drilling are established that conform to the high environmental standards the university holds for stewardship of its property."

This declaration followed the approval of a Faculty Senate resolution calling on Cornell to impose such a moratorium and form an advisory committee to study the issue.

The January/February 2010 issue of CAM contains a news story and a letter to the editor that predate this action by the university administration.

Big Red Basketball Wins Holiday Festival at MSG Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 December 2009

On December 21, the Cornell men's basketball team — winners of the Ivy League title for the past two years — stunned the crowd in Madison Square Garden by winning the Holiday Festival, defeating St. John's 71-66 in the championship game. As the New York Times reported, the Big Red rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to secure the title. Center Jeff Foote '10, who had 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks against St. John's, was named the tournament's MVP. The win broke a 40-year losing streak against Big East opponents.

Cornell had advanced to the championship game by defeating Davidson 91-88 in overtime. Senior Ryan Wittman secured the victory with a 35-foot three-point shot as time ran out. The two wins in the Holiday Festival moved Cornell's record to 9-2. The team has six more non-conference games before the Ivy season begins, including a January 6 contest against Kansas, currently ranked Number One in the country.

Arms Race Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 December 2009

In an article about the Princeton endowment in the December 9, 2009, issue of Princeton Alumni Weekly, Cornell Professor Ronald Ehrenberg speculates that the recent losses suffered by endowments could cause a re-examination of spending policies at major research universities, many of which have built lavish facilities in the "arms race" to attract students. "These universities are competing with each other to attract the very best students, and the competition is not just [about] the quality of the faculty and libraries, but it's the quality of the atmosphere of the institution," Ehrenberg says. "You might ask, is that the socially responsible thing to do?"

Ehrenberg, the Ives Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Economics, is the director of the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute and a faculty member of the Board of Trustees. He is the author of Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much and wrote the cover story on endowments in the May/June 2009 issue of CAM.

Gas Pains Print E-mail
Friday, 13 November 2009

The area around Ithaca sits atop the Marcellus Shale, a huge deposit of Devonian-era rock that harbors trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. For many years, it was considered impractical to drill for this gas, as the rock gave it up reluctantly. But the development of new drilling methods, including a process called hydro-fracking, has made it possible to greatly increase yields. This, in turn, has led to a push by drilling companies to lease land atop the Marcellus shale for gas production.

There are serious environmental concerns about the process, including the possibility that the hydro-fracking process can contaminate aquifers and threaten the water supply. The drilling also produces a large volume of chemical waste, which must be disposed of properly. Residents in the Southern Tier of New York have been expressing concerns about the effects of potential gas drilling, which has been reported in a series of articles in the Ithaca Journal.

On November 11, the Faculty Senate considered a resolution that would have asked the University to create a committee that could decide whether to lease any Cornell-owned land to gas drilling companies, among other measures, as was reported by the Daily Sun. After a discussion in which it was debated whether Cornell should take such action or remain a neutral source of scientific information, the resolution was tabled until the next meeting.

A public hearing on November 19 drew a strong response from local residents; read reports in the Daily Sun and the Ithaca Journal.

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