Over the past year and a half, despite the energy and attention necessarily directed towards the pandemic, Cornell has continued to move forward in its mission of teaching, research and engagement. As we settle into the fall of Ithaca, I am writing to share some updates from our remarkable community.
Despite the pandemic, our professors continue to excel in their teaching and research. Seven faculty members were recently elected to prestigious academies, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters; American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the National Academy of Engineering; and the National Academy of Sciences, in recognition of achievements at the highest level. Four assistant professors received National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Awards for their research on artificial intelligence, sustainable energy and digitization in manufacturing. And ten faculty members received Stephen H. Weiss Awards this semester, honoring their excellence in undergraduate teaching.
In all disciplines, our teachers are recognized for their exceptional contributions to their fields. Valzhyna Mort, assistant professor of English literatures at the College of Arts and Sciences, won the 2021 Griffin Prize for Poetry in the international category for her 2020 book, Music for the Dead and Resurrected. Mary Beth Norton, Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, and Mary Donlon Alger Emeritus Professor of American History at the College of Arts and Sciences, received the George Washington Prize for her book 1774: The Long Year of the Revolution. Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at the College of Arts and Sciences and Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, received the 2021 Humboldt Research Prize for Economics. And Scott Emr, Frank HT Rhodes Class of 1956 Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics and Director of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology, received last summer the highly prestigious Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine for Discovery History of Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for the Transport Route (ESCRT).
A new undergraduate minor in moral psychology, approved by the faculty in July, will be open to Cornell students starting in the spring semester; it will offer interdisciplinary engagement with theory and research in moral psychology, as well as practical experience in the application of moral psychology to practical ethical problems. This is just one of many examples of our faculty’s continuous updating and advancement of the educational programs we offer. And the number of grant and scholarship applications from our faculty has been exceptional over the past year, with nearly $ 1 billion in grants awarded across all three campuses in FY21. number is only one measure of faculty success, it is an important measure that reflects truly impressive accomplishments.
“Do the greatest good”
Cornell was fortunate to have recently benefited from the transformational philanthropy of our alumni. Last month we celebrated the launch of the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy – a new school within Cornell that had been an aspiration for decades and is now a reality thanks to the generosity of Jeb E. Brooks. , MBA ’70, and his wife, Cherie Wendelken, with the Brooks Family Foundation. Cornell Brooks School allows us to centralize and share the political expertise we have across Cornell, which raises the profile of this work while continuing our mission of land cession for public purposes.
We also recently announced the appointment of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration, in honor of a $ 50 million donation from Peter Nolan ’80, MBA ’82 and Stephanie Nolan ’84. I’m especially excited that this giveaway is dedicated entirely to student affordability, providing access to the world’s most innovative hospitality education to generations of future industry leaders.
As you already know, last December the Faculty of Computer and Information Science (CIS) became the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computer and Information Science, thanks to the generosity of ‘Ann S. Bowers ’59. I am delighted to share that we are moving forward with plans for a new building for the college, supported by its donation and a newly announced $ 10 million donation from Cornell alumni and Wayfair co-founders. Niraj Shah ’95 and Steve Conine ’95.
And last week, we officially launched our new comprehensive philanthropic campaign, with the goal of raising $ 5 billion across our three campuses, through engagement with 200,000 alumni. The campaign aims to support our academic mission in all its aspects, with a particular focus on strengthening student affordability, as part of the commitment Ezra Cornell made 156 years ago, when ‘he founded this university “to do the greatest good”.
A community of belonging
Being an institution for “everyone” is part of our Cornell identity and a constant priority for us in all aspects of our work. Through Belonging at Cornell, our reimagined and evidence-based diversity and inclusion framework, we have made significant progress through initiatives by students, faculty, staff and universities and colleges to make Cornell truly is a community where every member feels they belong and are valued. Our colleges and schools have developed and implemented significant initiatives to diversify our faculty; our public safety advisory committee has made recommendations for change that we are acting on; and across the Ithaca campus, our colleges and schools are working to plan educational programs for students that address issues of racial justice. These are just a few examples; I encourage you to explore the huge range of our diversity, equity and inclusion work, and stay connected through the Belonging to Cornell newsletter.
Ultimately, the responsibility of being a community of belonging lies with each of us. Our personal commitment to understanding issues of inequity and injustice – and acting on what we learn – is the only way we can effect change. Here at Cornell, that might mean learning more about our new Community Response Team and why we established it; take the time to deepen an inter-group dialogue project (IDP) experience or staff training course on diversity, equity and inclusion at Cornell; or read, broadly and thoughtfully, about people and topics new to us.
Live and learn together
After so many months of distance work and hybrid education, it’s wonderful to be back on a busy, active and vibrant campus again, and just as wonderful to spend time at Cornell Tech again. and Weill Cornell Medicine. Here in Ithaca, the first two residences in our North Campus residential expansion, Toni Morrison Hall and Ganędagǫ: Hall, are now occupied, and I was delighted to be able to welcome the members of Class 2025 into such beautiful new homes. It was also fantastic to be able to cheer on the Big Red again, who are coming back in force after more than 600 days of absence from competition.
And as we at Cornell continue to tackle big social issues, it’s especially gratifying to be recognized for our commitment to sustainability: Cornell ranked fourth out of 312 schools in the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools rankings. , which assesses four-year colleges and universities using objective measures of operational sustainability in dimensions such as energy, air and climate, transportation, and engagement.
On our campuses, our community does exciting things, and while we all still face the challenges of the pandemic, we teach and learn, we conduct groundbreaking research, we focus on ways to be ever more welcoming and inclusive. , and we love to be with each other. I am so happy to be here with you and to be a part of this exceptional Cornell community.