Monday, 27 February 2017
January / February 2017
From The Hill
Michigan Provost Tapped as CU President
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WELCOME TO THE HILL: Martha Pollack (clockwise from left) on the Arts Quad, touring campus with University leaders, and fielding press questions with Board of Trustees chair Robert Harrison '76

Martha Pollack, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan, has been named Cornell’s fourteenth president. A graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania, the fifty-eight-year-old Pollack is an expert in artificial intelligence; she will have tenured appointments in the departments of computer science and information science. She succeeds the late Elizabeth Garrett, who passed away in March 2016 after less than a year in Day Hall.

“One of the most wonderful things about Cornell is its abiding commitment to the liberal arts with a strong engagement in the more practical fields of study,” Pollack said during her November visit to the Hill. “It has an enduring focus on the creation and curation of pure knowledge complemented with the application of that knowledge to make a real, lasting, and positive difference in the world.”

At a press conference announcing her hiring, Pollack spoke of the value of innovation and adaptability, her commitment to diversity, and the need for Cornell to “lead the way in demonstrating why universities are so important.” She fielded questions regarding freedom of speech on campus, rising costs of higher education, and an increasing student debt burden. When asked about her status as Cornell’s second female president, she joked that when she joined the computer science department at Michigan, “there were more professors named Igor than there were female professors,” but added that “the job of the president is to serve everyone.”

'Cornell is the embodiment of my own deeply held belief in the ability of knowledge to improve the human condition.'Jan Rock Zubrow ’77, chair of the search committee, highlighted Pollack’s leadership qualities, managerial skills, and ability to “bring people together” as reasons for her appointment. Said Zubrow: “She is uniquely qualified to realize our dream of ‘One Cornell.’ ” At Michigan, Pollack served as the chief academic officer and chief budget officer, responsible for an enterprise comprising more than 43,000 students and 16,000 faculty and staff and with annual operating revenues of $3.4 billion. “As a private university with a public mission, Cornell is the embodiment of my own deeply held belief in the ability of knowledge to improve the human condition,” says Pollack, who takes office on April 17. “I can’t wait to get started, and I look forward to meeting and working with Cornell’s outstanding faculty, students, staff, and alumni in Ithaca, New York City, and around the globe.”

Pollack has been married for thirty-two years to Ken Gottschlich, an engineer who will join the Cornell faculty; they have two grown children, Anna and Nicholas. Her hiring continues a long tradition of drawing on Michigan-tested talent for Cornell’s leader: five previous presidents (Andrew Dickson White, Charles Kendall Adams, Edmund Ezra Day, Frank H.T. Rhodes, and Jeffrey Lehman ’77) were either faculty members or deans there.


Did You Know...

ImageThat a Cornell PhD student has her own PBS online show about math? Kelsey Houston-Edwards, MS '16, hosts "Infinite Series," a YouTube program that explores the field's mysteries and joys.


Noyes Lodge to Become Welcome Center


Beebe Lake's historic Noyes Lodge is slated to be transformed into a campus welcome center. The $6 million project will be named in honor of Trustee Emeritus Martin Tang '70 (above, in front of the lodge)—who, along with his sisters, donated $3 million toward it. The other half of the funds came via a challenge grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, the foundation established by Charles Feeney '56. The new center is slated to open in summer 2018.


Peach Flavor Wins Ice Cream Contest

Freedom of Peach—a flavor inspired by peach cobbler—won this year’s food science student ice cream competition, whose theme was the presidential election. Consisting of peach ice cream with cinnamon graham cracker pieces and a peach swirl, it beat such rivals as American Apple Pie and Campaign Trails (which incorporated pretzels covered in bitter dark chocolate with a hot pepper aftertaste). Freedom of Peach will be sold at the Dairy Store this spring—and beyond, if it proves popular.



SPARKING AN INTEREST: Students from the Ithaca, Tech, and Medical campuses mentored sixty New York City high schoolers from communities underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the first Big Red STEM Day, held at Weill Cornell Medicine in November.


R & D

More information on campus research is available at

ImageThe University will get up to $7 million in federal funding over five years to lead a research consortium dedicated to developing transportation innovations that protect public health and the environment.

A new phone app developed in collaboration with ILR researchers aims to help day laborers ("jornaleras" in Spanish). Dubbed Jornaler@, it lets users share their experiences and report wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and other ills.

ImageBased on a study in which college students were offered all-you-can-eat chicken wings, researchers in CALS report that men in social situations feel empowered to overeat—as proof of their coolness and machismo—while women feel pressure to eat less. The work could have implications for overeating in group situations like tailgates and holiday celebrations.

Patients with depression can be categorized into four subtypes defined by distinct patterns of abnormal connectivity in the brain, says Conor Liston, MD '08, assistant professor of neuroscience at the Medical college. Liston examined more than 1,100 brain scans in the study, published in Nature Medicine.


Give My Regards to

These Cornellians in the news

ImageAhmed Ahmed ’17 (left), a biological sciences major in CALS, who won a Rhodes Scholarship. At Oxford he plans to pursue a master’s degree in organic and medicinal chemistry, on a path to a career as a physician-scientist.

Cornell University, ranked eleventh on Forbes’s list of the “25 Most Expensive Schools Worth Every Penny.” MIT was number one.

ImageIthaca mayor Svante Myrick ’09 (right), included on Rolling Stone’s “Hot List” (as its “Hot Do-Gooder”) for his efforts to institute a living wage, affordable housing, and a revamped drug policy in the city.

ImageVincent Boudreau, PhD ’91, appointed interim president of the City College of New York.

Eric Gonzalez ’91, BA ’92 (left), named acting district attorney of Brooklyn. A former double major in government and history, he joined the New York City D.A.’s office in 1995.


Co-Op Offers Deals for Dairy Fans

ImageCornellians living near campus can now enjoy the Cornell Dairy’s wares at reduced cost. The recently established Cornell Dairy Cooperative offers ice cream, milk, cheese, yogurt, and more at wholesale prices. For a $15 lifetime membership fee, participants can put in weekly orders, to be picked up on Thursday afternoons behind Stocking Hall.


'The major you choose isn't as important as parents think.'

— Interim President Hunter Rawlings,
encouraging students to ‘major in what you love’
during a lecture to an economics class



HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. PRESIDENT: The University marked the ninetieth birthday of President Emeritus Frank H.T. Rhodes with a symposium celebrating his academic impact in the field of geological sciences. The event—attended by family members, colleagues, students, alumni, and more—was held on October 29. That date is not only Rhodes’s birthday, but Frank H.T. Rhodes Day in the City of Ithaca; the event was established by a proclamation from former Ithaca mayor Alan Cohen ’81 on the occasion of Rhodes’s seventieth.



CLIMBING HIGH: The University now boasts a newly expanded climbing wall. Thanks to an $850,000 upgrade project two years in the making, the Lindseth Climbing Center in Bartels Hall has 8,000 square feet of space, compared with its former 4,800. The facility—originally funded by Jon Lindseth ’56, BME ’57,who also supported the expansion—opened in 1990.


Center Opposes Death Penalty

The Law School has launched the Cornell Center on Death Penalty Worldwide, the first entity of its kind in the U.S. According to founder Sandra Babcock, professor of law, it will focus on “the application of international human rights norms that favor abolition of the death penalty in the United States and other countries.” The center will conduct research, advocacy, and litigation on death penalty issues. Its first major initiative will be a summer institute bringing together capital defense lawyers from around the globe to share strategies.


Arrest Made in Campus Murder

An Ithaca-area man has been arrested in the killing of an Ithaca College student, who died of stab wounds in late August after a large fight broke out on Ho Plaza following an event in Willard Straight Hall. The alleged assailant, twenty-three-year-old Nagee Green from the nearby village of Freeville, has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree assault. Anthony Nazaire, a nineteen-year-old IC sophomore from Brooklyn, died in the early morning hours of Sunday, August 28.



9/11 Memorial in Anabel Taylor

In late October, Cornell dedicated a permanent memorial to the twenty-one alumni who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The remembrance is located in the Anabel Taylor Hall rotunda (above), on a wall near the University's World War II memorial. The dedication included the announcement of the September 11 Memorial Scholarship for undergrads; its first recipient is Arts and Sciences student Michael Golden '20, whose father and uncles were among the NYPD's first responders on 9/11.

(Photos: Pollack and Tang, Robert Barker/Cornell Marketing Group; STEM day, Studio Brooke; Others provided.)

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