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Big Changes at Day Hall
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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

On October 20, President David Skorton and Provost Kent Fuchs announced major changes in the University admininstration that are expected to save some $2 million annually. The reorganization includes elimination of the positions of executive vice president (which had been vacated by Stephen Golding earlier in the year), vice president for risk management and public safety, and vice provost for life sciences. President Skorton will directly oversee the investment office, the audit office, and facilities services. University Counsel Jim Mingle will coordinate all risk management functions, and Vice President Mary Opperman will be in charge of the police department, as well as emergency planning and environmental health and safety.

The reorganization includes the formation of two new admininistrative teams. One will be responsible for information technology both in Ithaca and at the medical college in New York City. The other will be headed by Glenn Altschuler, the dean of continuing education and Litwin professor of American studies, who will have the title of vice president for university relations. In this position, Altschuler will oversee strategies related to communications, government relations, and land grant affairs.

Three support positions in the Office of the President and Provost were also eliminated. According to a report in the Daily Sun, these positions were vacant.

Homecoming to Feature Parade Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 October 2009

This year's Homecoming festivities will include a parade before the football game, beginning at 10:30 AM. Parades were at one time a staple of the campus festivies but died out in the 1990s. According to the Daily Sun, the event will feature student and alumni organizations and be led by Ezra Cornell '70, great-grandson of the Founder.

One oddity, as noted by Matt Nagowski '05 in his MetaEzra blog, is that "University Risk Management outlawed the use of any sort of vehicle—including cars, trucks, bicycles, and, presumably, hand-pulled wagons. And what is a Homecoming parade without a float?" Good point.

Ithaca being Ithaca, the weather forecast for Saturday calls for . . . snow.


Cornell Endowment Down 26% Print E-mail
Friday, 18 September 2009

On September 18, Cornell announced that the value of its long-term investments (LTI) had dropped 26% during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2009. This represented a slight improvement over the mid-year report of a 27% decline. The end-of-year value of the LTI—which includes the endowment and two smaller funds—was $5.1 billion, a $1 billion drop from its value on June 30, 2008.

"We have repositioned the portfolio to substantially participate in the upside of market movements, while reducing risk," said Paul Gould '67, chairman of the Board of Trustees' Investment Committee.

Compared to the other Ivy League schools that have announced their FY 2008-09 results, Cornell's performance was somewhere in the middle. Harvard's endowment dropped 30% (a loss of more than $10 billion) and Yale was down 29%, while Princeton and Brown declined 23%, Columbia 21%, and Penn 16%.

The Cornell of the Future Print E-mail
Friday, 04 September 2009

As the administration continues to grapple with the University's financial situation, President David Skorton has launched a series of forums on the subject of "Reimagining Cornell." He is meeting with faculty, students, and staff to hear their ideas and concerns about the future of the University.

Some of the upcoming changes could be profound. As Skorton noted in a recent Daily Sun interview, Cornell has a budget that's "wildly out of balance," and deep cuts may be needed in some areas to restore financial stability. A consulting firm, Bain & Company, has been hired to make recommendations for reducing expenses in non-academic areas. On the academic side, each college has been told to scrutinize its budget and find areas for reductions or consolidation, and internal task forces will then make the final recommendations. A draft of the report from the Arts and Sciences task force expressed concern that cuts on the scale required could do "major damage" to the college. All of the task force reports will be submitted to Provost Kent Fuchs, who will consult with Skorton and decide which recommendations should be carried out.

Alumni Magazines for All? Print E-mail
Friday, 31 July 2009

The university administration will explore the idea of subsidizing distribution of Cornell Alumni Magazine to all alumni, said President David Skorton during his July 23 online discussion with some 70 alumni. The magazine (and this associated website) is owned and published by the Cornell Alumni Federation, and it is distributed only to those alumni who pay for a subscription either through class dues or directly. This means it reaches only a small percentage of Cornell alumni, unlike the alumni magazines of the other Ivy League schools, which are sent to nearly all of their domestic alumni as well as many living overseas.

When President Skorton was asked by Larry Eisen '66 if he would consider altering this situation so more alumni could be engaged via the magazine, Skorton promised to explore the issue but cited cost constraints, noting that Cornell has ceased printing some of its publications and is relying more on electronic communication. "We're trying a variety of experiments," he said. "The only way we're going to know if they work is by your feedback. Write to me directly -- This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it ."


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