The ‘Model’ American University
Serving the Cornell community as a trustee has been a privilege as well as a serious responsibility. I have had a front-row seat for unprecedented transitions—five presidents, including acting and interim, in less than four years!—and numerous challenges, large and small. Despite these changes and challenges, we have maintained a steadfast commitment to protecting our core tenet of “any person, any study” while advancing Cornell to be the model for the twenty-first-century American university—one with a global land grant mission.
Three initiatives I have focused on during my term demonstrate Cornell’s vitality and forward-thinking nature. The Student Housing Initiative, which will add almost 2,000 beds in Ithaca by 2021, has been a multi-year, joint effort by the Committee of Student Life, which I co-chair, as well as the Finance, Building & Properties, and Academic Affairs committees. When complete, Cornell will be able to deliver on our promise to house all freshmen and sophomores on campus in safe and appropriate environments. The formation of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business in 2016 united the Johnson, Dyson, and Hotel schools to create an even stronger competitor in the business education marketplace, reflecting the future of business itself: flexible, cross-disciplinary, and collaborative. Finally, the opening of Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus in New York City this fall exhibits our position as a global leader in technology, innovation, and collaboration.
While alumni-elected trustees represent the perspective of alumni on the board, all trustees are fiduciaries of the University. Accordingly, my role has been to represent the best interests of Cornell as a whole, not just the group that elected me.
I truly appreciate having been given the opportunity to serve Cornell, its alumni, and the community as a trustee. Go Big Red!
— Elizabeth Everett Krisberg ’97
‘Steward of a Great Treasure’
When I joined the board in 2014, I thought I had a relatively deep understanding of the workings of the University, since I was an adjunct professor in the Dyson School and had two sons attending Cornell. I quickly discovered that Cornell is a much more complex enterprise to manage than I had imagined. Blending the intellectual richness of academia with the laser focus of a multinational corporation presents unique challenges and opportunities.
I have been a part of discussions, debates, and decisions on topics ranging from Collegetown to Cornell Tech, faculty renewal to online education, hazing to building new dorms, and tuition to endowment returns. University affairs were even more challenging with high turnover in the senior administration including the provost, multiple vice presidents, and, of course, two presidential searches. And in the midst of all this, we celebrated the Sesquicentennial.
Much of the work on a large board occurs at the committee level. At various points, I have been a member of the Finance, Alumni Affairs, Development, Student Life, and Audit committees. I am now proud to be national chairman of the Cornell Annual Fund, which is very rewarding.
Cornell still has many challenges ahead, including coping with unsustainable tuition increases, hiring outstanding faculty, improving Collegetown, rebuilding infrastructure, integrating Cornell Tech, capitalizing on the growth of Weill Cornell Medicine, and improving student life issues ranging from housing to athletics—and doing all of this with limited financial resources but boundless energy.
Serving on the board has been one of the greatest joys and highest honors of my life. It is said that “we live in the shade of trees that we did not plant.” With that in mind, I hope to continue to help make improvements and refinements to our university, yet be mindful that I am a steward of a great treasure.
— Michael Troy ’81