Friday, 09 October 2015
Big Red Basketball Wins Holiday Festival at MSG
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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.

Strategic Planning Reports Released Print E-mail
Friday, 06 November 2009

Provost Kent Fuchs has released executive summaries of the 20 reports prepared by campus task forces as part of the strategic planning process dubbed "Reimagining Cornell." The summaries are available online. The full reports are available for viewing in the office of the dean of the faculty and will not be distributed electronically.

As the Daily Sun noted, the reports contain "a wide range of strategies for how Cornell's academic programs can be either reorganized, merged, consolidated, or eliminated as the University seeks to function more efficiently." Release of the reports, which were completed in October, had been requested by both the Faculty Senate and the Student Assembly. Beginning on November 18, the University will hold a series of six public forums for discussion of the recommendations.

Skorton Goes Back to the Future Print E-mail
Friday, 23 October 2009

"Come with me to the future," said President David Skorton as he kicked off his annual State of the University Address before a full house in Statler Auditorium on the Friday morning of Trustee-Council Weekend. Rather than delivering the usual laundry list of accomplishments and updates, Skorton took a conceptual approach, looking ahead to the University's sesquicentennial in 2015 and asking, "How do we get to that future?"

The answer, he said, was "by way of the past." He then characted the ideas and ideals of Cornell as "four pillars": classical and contemporary inquiry, a faculty characterized by "thinking otherwise," student access, and public engagement. He elaborated on each point, emphasizing Cornell's founding as an institution for both liberal and practical education where "any qualified student" could expect to be admitted and learn from an outstanding faculty in a wide variety of subjects, and have an opportunity to serve the community and the world. He echoed key statements by many of his predecessors, including Jeff Lehman's characterization of Cornell as a "transnational university."

In the near future, Skorton emphasized, Cornell must turn its attention to hiring faculty rather than constructing more buildings. "We need to shift our focus from bricks and mortar to people. The faculty are the soul of a great university," he said.

In his inimitable style, Skorton leavened his serious remarks with some humor, including a nostalgic reverie about his first car, a Chevy V-8 that got him into trouble for "going just a bit over the speed limit." He also took questions, including one from a balcony microphone that he said had finally been placed there "after a study by a faculty committee that began in 1986."

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