Cornell ‘Not Only Endures But Thrives’
When I joined the board in 2013, the University had recently won the NYC tech campus competition, was in the middle of the Cornell Now campaign, and was preparing to begin the celebration of its sesquicentennial. At the same time, it was still emerging from the aftermath of the Recession and dealing with some of the issues facing much of higher education, including competition for talented faculty and students and tightened federal funding. We also faced the departure of David Skorton and the devastating loss of his successor, Beth Garrett.
Needless to say, there’s been no shortage of challenging issues facing the board. Yet, through these challenges, the University not only endures but thrives. The administration, staff, and faculty, along with the board, have all worked overtime to ensure that Cornell remains the pre-eminent institution we all know and love. And now, we look forward to Martha Pollack joining Cornell as its fourteenth president.
During the past four years, I’ve served on several committees, including Audit, Buildings & Properties, Finance, Development, and Student Life, and I’ve served as vice chair of the Committee on Alumni Affairs for two years. Participation on these committees has enabled me to develop a deep understanding of the University, which is vast and complex.
I’ve also been asked to work with staff, faculty, and administrators by serving on or leading task forces, including Cornell Alumni Magazine and the College of Business Alumni Engagement Committee.
My hope is that all of Cornell’s constituencies—alumni, students, faculty, staff, and the community—understand how board members approach their decisions: thoughtfully, deliberately, seriously, and genuinely concerned about what is best for Cornell’s long-term vibrancy, health, and stature. Thank you, fellow alumni, for giving me this opportunity to serve Cornell in this very important capacity.
‘“Any Person, Any Study” has had a resounding impact’
Serving as a trustee has been a fascinating experience. It has opened my eyes to the scale and complexity of Cornell and the depth and range of expertise and leadership required to run the University. It seemed fitting that my term started on my fifty-fourth birthday and orientation meetings were at Weill Cornell (New York Hospital), where I was born—truly a full circle. Being there was a powerful reminder of Cornell’s tremendous impact—from Ithaca to New York City and beyond.
Celebrating Cornell’s 150th was another reminder, in this case of our history—a land grant institution founded just after the Civil War as a radical counterpoint to the elite institutions of the time. “Any person, any study” has had a resounding impact since, and makes us unique among our peers today.
These last few years have been a time of great leadership transition. We are all indebted to Bob Harrison ’76, Mike Kotlikoff, and Hunter Rawlings, who refocused our conversations and actions upon the academic mission of the University, and on renewing the quality of campus life for students and faculty.
Four years ago I wrote, “Cornell’s long-term aspirations and strategic initiatives for excellence, innovation, and enhanced collaboration across colleges and disciplines must be matched by an equally inspirational, comprehensive, and sustainable network of resources and facilities to fulfill that vision.” That challenge remains, especially given the rising cost of education and an aging campus infrastructure. But significant progress is being made. One highlight is Cornell Tech, a striking example of translating a vision into a reality.
Thank you for this opportunity to serve. It has been a great honor to work with my fellow trustees and the administrative team who dedicate so much time, energy, and expertise to keep Cornell on stable ground even in challenging times. I look forward to our future under President Pollack’s leadership.
Voting for the 2017 alumni trustee election begins March 21. For more information, go to alumni.cornell.edu/trustees
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