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Milstein Hall: Boon or Boondoggle?
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Friday, 30 January 2009

The long-delayed construction of Milstein Hall—the new home for Architecture, Art, and Planning—appeared to clear the last major hurdle on January 27 when, as the Daily Sun reported, Ithaca's Planning and Development Board approved the final site plan. (Also reported, with more background, in the Cornell Chronicle.)

Not so fast, said a group of 25 professors and alumni whose letter was published in the Daily Sun on January 30. Citing the University's current financial crisis as well as concerns about the design and environmental impact of the building, they said that moving ahead with the project was difficult to justify. "In search of a more innovative, cost-effective, and nature-friendly way to serve the space needs of AAP," they wrote, "we urge that Milstein be included in the building moratorium and that this project be reconsidered."

Endowment Declines 27 Percent (Updated) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 January 2009

During a January 9 interview with CAM editor and publisher Jim Roberts, President David Skorton said that the value of Cornell’s endowment had declined 27 percent between June 30 and December 31, 2008. This is similar to losses that have been announced by Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other institutions.

The total value of Cornell's endowment and other long-term investments was $6.1 billion on June 30, but Skorton said that some illiquid assets, such as real estate, have not been revalued yet—so the full extent of the decline is unclear. The 27 percent decline, if it is accurate for all of Cornell's long-term investments, represents a drop of almost $1.7 billion.

Skorton noted that Cornell’s operating budget is not as dependent on endowment earnings as that of some other institutions and expressed great confidence in the University’s financial managers and trustees as they deal with the current economic crisis.

A full report on the endowment will appear in the March/April 2009 issue of the magazine.

After a meeting of the Board of Trustees on January 23-24, Skorton issued a statement outlining Cornell's response to the financial crisis, including budget cuts and an extension of the "pause" in hiring and construction.

Remembering 'Hot Truck Bob,' 77 Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Robert Petrillose Sr., founder of Cornell’s beloved Hot Truck, died December 8 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Petrillose grew up in the restaurant business as the son of the owner of Johnny’s Big Red Grill in Collegetown. He started the Hot Truck in 1960—according to legend, inventing the concept of French bread pizza. His signature sandwiches spawned their own nomenclature, from the PMP (Poor Man’s Pizza) to the MBC (meatball and cheese) to the infamous Suicide, or Sui—garlic bread with sauce, cheese, mushrooms, sausage, and pepperoni. At one point, the truck even had its own mini-dictionary.

Rawlings's 'Last Lecture' Available Online Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 December 2008

In November, a crowd of 200 gathered in Goldwin Smith to hear former Cornell President Hunter Rawlings deliver his "Last Lecture," a trend in academia in which professors give a talk as if it were their final chance to address an audience. The classics professor described the love of "close reading" he gained in his own student days, in contrast to the current penchant for Googling and other superficial modes of research.

We're Not Alone Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Faced with what could be a 30 percent decline in its $36.9 billion endowment, Harvard is freezing staff hires and scrutinizing faculty searches in its Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Boston Globe reports that Michael Smith, the dean of Harvard's largest faculty, e-mailed the news to department heads on November 24.

Harvard may also be looking to sell off some of its declining endowment investments, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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