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Happy Birthday, Morris
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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

In addition to being tax day, April 15 is the birthday of Morris Bishop 1913, PhD ’26.

Garrison Keillor paid tribute to Bishop during his segment on NPR's "Writer's Alamanac." As Keilor noted, Bishop was well known for his light verse—but he's perhaps best known to most Cornellians as the author of A History of Cornell (1962, Cornell University Press), the definitive account of the University's history from the founding up to about 1960.

Keillor said:

It's the birthday of humorist and biographer Morris Bishop, born in Willard, New York (1893). His dad was a doctor, and Morris Bishop was born at the Willard State Hospital for the Insane, where his father and grandfather worked.

He studied Romance languages at Cornell and then became a full-time professor there, and he stayed at Cornell for the rest of his career. He was a brilliant scholar, fluent in German, Swedish, French, Spanish, Latin, and modern Greek. He wrote biographies of Pascal, Champlain, La Rochefoucauld, Petrarch, and St. Francis. But we remember him best as the author of light verse, such as this:

I lately lost a preposition:
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair.
And angrily I cried: "Perdition!
Up from out of in under there!"

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor;
And yet I wondered: "What should he come
Up from out of in under for?"

Endowment Decline Continues Print E-mail
Tuesday, 31 March 2009

On this site and in the March/April 2009 issue of the print magazine, CAM reported that Cornell's long-term investments (LTI) had declined 27 percent between June 30 and December 31, 2008. The value of those investments—which include the endowment and two smaller funds—had dropped from $6.1 billion on June 30 to $4.5 billion at the end of the calendar year.

In the prospectus for this week's sale of $305 million in tax-exempt bonds for capital projects, the University reported that the investment decline has continued:

"Since June 30, 2008, significant volatility and decline in world financial markets have impacted all major asset classes in which the LTI is invested. As of February 28, 2009, the estimated fair value of the LTI has declined by approximately 31 percent from June 30, 2008. This estimate is unaudited and does not reflect updated real estate and private equity valuations for which valuations are provided on a quarterly basis."

AAD Reorg: Regional Offices Closing, 41 Layoffs, Resources Shifted Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 March 2009

In response to both an internal "strategic planning" process and mandated budget cuts, Charlie Phlegar, vice president for alumni affairs and development, has announced a major reorganization of the division. Regional offices will be closed in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Miami, and San Francisco -- leaving only the New York City office -- and there will be significant staff reductions in Ithaca. In all, 41 AAD employees are being laid off. In addition, major gift officers will be moved from University Development to the colleges and units, some operations will be shifted to other university divisions, and there will be "strategic investment" in alumni programs, with an emphasis on better use of technology for communicating with alumni.

For more, see the Daily Sun and Cornell Chronicle articles.

"Reimagine the University" Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 March 2009

At an open forum for staff on Monday, March 16, President David Skorton reviewed the University's financial status and assured attendees that while layoffs were inevitable, they would be done in a "humane and respectful way."

Citing a budget deficit of $230 million, Skorton said that Cornell's leadership is "doing what needs to be done" to keep the University on solid financial footing, but noted that the impact of the financial crisis means it will be necessary to "reimagine the University." Asked about campus construction, Skorton said that "nothing is going forward" at least until the end of the semester, pending review.

For more, see the Daily Sun and Cornell Chronicle accounts.

Trustees Authorize Bond Sale Print E-mail
Monday, 09 March 2009

On March 6, the Board of Trustees authorized the sale of up to $500 million in taxable bonds to provide working capital for the University. They also reduced endowment expenditures by 15 percent for the coming academic year. These steps, and others, were outlined in a message issued by President David Skorton.

Initial response was generally favorable, although a Daily Sun editorial pondered the question of faculty retirement and wondered about the financial and educational impact of senior faculty retaining their tenured positions because of the financial situation. The Sun also asked why the restructuring of the University's investment portfolio has been "shrouded in secrecy."

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