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Amid Concern for 'Human Capital,' Layoffs Likely
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Thursday, 06 November 2008

The first public forum on the University’s reaction to the national economic downturn drew about 400 people to Bailey Hall, where President David Skorton promised to protect Cornell’s “human capital” while making the cutbacks necessary for fiscal health. While acknowledging that layoffs are likely—and that some positions have already been eliminated due to state funding cuts —Skorton said the University is “going to be very, very aggressive” in trying to keep workers from losing their jobs.

Big Red Yuks on NBC's 'The Office' Print E-mail
Friday, 31 October 2008

“Those colors are sacred,” Cornell alum Andy Bernard tells a coworker, who’s wearing a sweatshirt with the University’s name emblazoned in big red letters. “If you’re not a Cornell man, you probably shouldn’t wear them.”

Fans of “The Office” are familiar with Andy’s comical Big Red obsession. The resident blowhard at the fictional Dunder Mifflin paper company, Andy constantly touts his Cornell pedigree. (In past episodes, we’ve learned that he’s a second-generation Cornellian, and that he is still obsessed with his a cappella group.)

But the NBC sitcom’s October 30th episode was a veritable bonanza of Cornellian humor when Dwight—the dour office eccentric whose other job is running his family’s beet farm—shows up in a Cornell sweatshirt just to drive Andy insane. It works. (It is, perhaps, Dwight’s Big Red Bear bobblehead doll that drives him over the edge.)

Andy: “You did not go to Cornell. You’re just doing this to screw with me.”

Dwight: “Not so. Cornell is an excellent school. Without its agricultural program, we probably wouldn’t have cabbage—at least not modern cabbage.”

Andy: “I know it’s an excellent school, Dwight. I went there. My blood runs Big Red.”

Dwight: “Someday we’ll both get together in Comstock Hall and just laugh about all of this.”

Skorton Announces 'Hiring Pause' Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 October 2008

Though he stopped short of calling it a “hiring freeze”—instead terming it a “pause”—President David Skorton has announced that no one from outside the University will be hired into non-faculty positions through March 31, 2009. In a statement released on October 30, Skorton outlined the University’s measures to control costs during the current national financial crisis. “In addition to actions already begun in response to state budget cuts, we will also take careful, collegial, and substantive actions within the contract and endowed colleges and the central administration to streamline operations and redirect resources to those programs that will contribute to Cornell’s future success,” Skorton said, noting that there will be no across-the-board cuts or layoffs.

In addition to the suspension in hiring, Skorton said, the University has instituted a “90-day construction pause to re-calibrate the University’s capital budget in order to align funding sources and uses more realistically.” Its provisions include putting projects that are not under contract for construction on hold; putting projects that are in the design phase on hold once design is complete; and halting all physical infrastructure, local transportation, and housing projects that have not yet been initiated. Cornell will also conduct “a rigorous 45-day, university-wide review of operational effectiveness, financial policies, and procedures to identify specific actions to contain costs, streamline operations, and protect the institution from unintended financial exposure, while optimizing the use of university resources.”

The administration plans to host a series of public forums as it shapes the University’s fiscal future. It has posted an online suggestion box for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to submit their ideas.

Pro-Life Signs Prompt Free Speech Flap Print E-mail
Friday, 24 October 2008

In the early morning on Wednesday, October 22, a staffer in the Engineering college noticed a series of signs espousing pro-life views posted on the Engineering Quad. The signs, including images of human fetuses, had been put up by the Cornell Coalition for Life—which had obtained the requisite permissions from the University. But the staffer assumed the display was unauthorized and took it down; although they were replaced 90 minutes later, the incident caused a flap over free speech on campus. “As an organization, we work hard to follow the rules,” a Coalition for Life member told the Daily Sun, “but it seems like we were found guilty before proven innocent.” The incident prompted a statement from Vice President for University Communications Tommy Bruce as well as a message from Engineering Dean Kent Fuchs. “As a community of individuals, we will always have differing ideas and opinions,” Fuchs said. “I would ask that, as a community of scholars, we discuss those differences in an environment of mutual respect and courtesy.”

Fuchs Named 15th Provost Print E-mail
Friday, 17 October 2008

W. Kent Fuchs, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who has served as dean of the Engineering college since he came to Cornell in 2002, has been named the University’s new provost. The appointment continues Cornell’s longstanding tradition of hiring its chief academic officer from within. “He is a strong and respected administrator who has led the Engineering college with foresight, vitality, and innovation—attributes he will bring to his new appointment,” says President David Skorton.

Fuchs, who takes office January 1, came to Ithaca from Purdue University, where he headed the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He holds an undergraduate degree from Duke, a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois, and a master’s of divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. “We are blessed with wonderful leadership across the University,” Fuchs says, “and I will devote all my energy and time to helping those leaders enhance Cornell’s stature, scholarship, and teaching.” Fuchs succeeds Biddy Martin, Cornell’s longest-serving provost, who was in the post for eight years before leaving last summer to become chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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