Cornell University

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Template:Redirect Template:Infobox University2 Cornell University is a leading research university based in Ithaca, New York. The youngest of the Ivy League universities, Cornell was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell, a self-made businessman involved in the formation of the Western Union Telegraph Company [1], and Andrew Dickson White, a respected scholar and politician. With an initial enrollment of 412 students, the university's opening day ceremonies were held on October 7, 1868.[2] Current undergraduate enrollment is now over 13,500, the largest of any Ivy League university, and almost 20,300 total students including graduate and professional students in Ithaca and medical students at the New York City campus, a number comparable to the total populations of other Ivy League institutions.[3]

About Cornell

Cornell is well known for its research, as well as both its undergraduate and graduate education programs. Cornell consistently ranks in the top decile in college and university rankings; it ranked 12th globally in an Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2005 [4], 13th in the 2006 U.S. News and World Report "National Universities" ranking,[5], 4th in the 2005 Washington Monthly "National Universities" ranking of service to the nation [6], 14th in the world and the 4th best Ivy League school by The Times Higher World University Rankings in 2005 [7], and is widely considered to be one of the finest universities in the world. [8] [9]

The University has seven undergraduate and seven graduate level academic units, as well as three intercollege divisions, the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, and the Cornell University Library. Cornell's students hail from all corners of the globe, and represent over 120 countries and all fifty United States. Admissions are highly competitive; for the Class of 2009, 26.1% of applicants were admitted. Over 88% of them graduated in the top 10% of their high school class (among schools reporting class rank).[10]

The iconic image of Cornell: McGraw Tower, or simply 'The Clocktower'

Cornell's main campus is situated on a rolling site of 745 acres (3 km²) overlooking Cayuga Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes, and the central portion is bounded to its north and south by picturesque gorges and waterfalls.

The Joan and Sanford Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences are located at the New York City campus. In addition, the university operates a medical school campus in Education City, Qatar, the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the Shoals Marine Laboratory off the coast of Maine (in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire), the New York State Cooperative Extension system, and several other teaching or research facilities around the world.

The Cornell motto is an 1865 quotation by Ezra Cornell stating "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study". This quote encapsulates both Ezra Cornell's desire and modern Cornell University's platform to have a diverse student population taking courses in diverse subjects. From its founding in the aftermath of the industrial revolution and the U.S. Civil War as a university where the classics and more practical subjects, such as engineering and agriculture, were taught with equal fervor, to the establishment of the first American medical school outside of the United States in 2001, Cornell is a pioneer in American education—educational historian Frederick Rudolph once called it "the first American university."

It was the first major institution in the eastern United States to admit women along with men, when the first women enrolled in 1870. Among other firsts, it awarded the first university degrees in veterinary medicine and journalism, taught the first course in American history, formed the first university publishing company, and awarded the nation's first doctorates in electrical engineering and industrial engineering. The School of Hotel Administration and New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations are the first four-year schools devoted to those fields.

The school colors are carnelian (a shade of red) and white, a play on "Cornellian" and Andrew Dickson White. The name of Cornell's athletic teams is the "Big Red"; a bear is commonly used as the unofficial mascot, which dates back to the introduction of the mascot "Touchdown" in 1915, a live bear who was brought onto the field during football games. The sports teams participate in the Ivy League and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). At sporting events, Cornellians sing the University's alma mater "Far Above Cayuga's Waters" and fight song "Give My Regards to Davy". People associated with the University are called "Cornellians"; "Cornellian" may also be used as an adjective and is the name of the university's annual.

Academic units

Cornell is a private institution, receiving most of its funding through tuition, research grants, and alumni contributions. However, three of its undergraduate colleges as well as the graduate-level College of Veterinary Medicine, called contract or statutory colleges, also receive partial funding from the state of New York to support their research and service mission in niche fields. Residents of New York enrolled in the statutory colleges enjoy reduced tuition. Further, the governor of the state serves as an ex-officio member of the board of trustees. It is a common misconception that Cornell's contract colleges are public institutions. They are not—they are private institutions that Cornell operates by contract with the state government.

Cornell is highly decentralized; its colleges and schools have wide autonomy. Each defines its own academic programs, organizes its own admissions and advising programs, and confers its own degrees; the only university-wide requirements for a baccalaureate degree are to pass a swimming test and take two physical education courses. Periodically, the university attempts to resolve naturally arising redundancies by creating special interschool units (see Other units below). While students may take courses offered by the division, their enrollment remains with their individual college or school. With that said, any student may take any course in any of the colleges, provided they have fulfilled the pre-requisites for enrollment.

Seven schools offer undergraduate programs. Students pursuing graduate degrees in departments of these schools are enrolled in the Cornell University Graduate School. In addition, there are six units offering graduate and professional programs.

Undergraduate colleges and schools

Endowed colleges

Contract colleges

Graduate/Professional colleges and schools

All of Cornell's graduate and professional schools are endowed, except for the statutory veterinary school.

Cornell University Library

The Cornell University Library consists of twenty units. It is one of the largest academic research libraries in the United States, with over 7 million volumes in open stacks, 7 million microforms, 5 million computer files, and some 76,000 sound recordings in its collections in addition to extensive digital resources and the University Archives. It was the first among all U.S. colleges and universities to allow undergraduates to borrow books from its libraries.

Cornell University Press

Cornell University Press, established in 1869, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States and is one of the country's largest university presses. It produces approximately 150 titles each year in various disciplines including anthropology, classics, cultural studies, history, literary criticism and theory, medieval studies, philosophy, politics and international relations, psychology and psychiatry, and women's studies.

Other units

See also: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, CORC, Cornell Theory Center

The campuses

Main campus

Cornell's main campus, is located on the eastern hill of Ithaca, New York, overlooking the city. Day Hall, the administration building, is located on East Avenue. The campus itself is situated on a rolling site of 745 acres (3 km²) on East Hill, overlooking Cayuga Lake and downtown Ithaca two miles (3 km) to the west. The 260 or so major buildings are mostly divided into quads for the Arts, Engineering, and Agriculture, a science lab complex, and the athletic complex.

Central campus is bounded to its north and south by spectacular limestone gorges and waterfalls. Dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and student centers are located on North Campus, north of Fall Creek Gorge, and on West Campus, at the bottom of the Library Slope ("Libe Slope"); after snowfalls, students are known to sled down the Slope on trays from the dining hall. East of the main campus lie the Cornell Plantations, approximately 3,600 acres (15 km²) encompassing an arboretum and botanical gardens as well as natural woodlands, trails, streams, and gorges. South of Cascadilla Gorge lies the student-oriented Collegetown business and residential district.

The first building, Morrill Hall, was erected in 1868, although Cascadilla Hall, a dormitory purchased some years later, is slightly older. Cornell's signature landmark is McGraw Tower, which rises 173 feet and 161 steps from the ground. Constructed in 1891 adjoining Uris Library, it features the Cornell Chimes, 21 bells on which the Cornell chimesmasters play three daily concerts. The clock tower has been the target of a number of pranks. In 1997, a large pumpkin was placed on spire of the clocktower and a discoball in 2005. How either prank was engineered has not been discovered.

Contrasting with the Gothic, Victorian, and Neo-Classical buildings on the Arts Quad is the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, designed by I. M. Pei. Other notable buildings: Willard Straight Hall, one of the earliest student unions; Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, the largest academic building in the eastern United States; Duffield Hall, one of the world's most advanced nanotechnology facilities; and the Statler Hotel, adjacent to and associated with the School of Hotel Administration.

New York City campus

The New York Weill Cornell Medical Center is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It is home to the Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and has a long affiliation with the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Although their faculty and academic divisions remain separate, the Medical Center shares its administrative functions with the Columbia University Medical Center, and is also affiliated with the Sloan-Kettering Institute for cancer research. In addition to the medical facilities, Cornell in New York City includes offices of; Cornell Cooperative Extension, the College of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR), and Operations Research Manhattan Center.

Other campuses

The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, operated by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is located in Geneva, New York, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the main campus. The facility now comprises 20 major buildings on 130 acres (0.5 km²) of land, as well as over 700 acres (2.8 km²) of test plots and other lands devoted to horticultural research. It also operates three substations, Vineyard Research Laboratory in Fredonia, Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland and the Long Island Horticultural Research Laboratory in Riverhead.

The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, located in Education City, near Doha, is housed in a large two-story structure designed by Arata Isozaki.

Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

The Shoals Marine Laboratory, a seasonal marine field station dedicated to undergraduate education and research operated in conjunction with the University of New Hampshire, is located on the 95 acre (0.4 km²) Appledore Island off the MaineNew Hampshire coast.

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, is operated by Cornell.

The current and upcoming missions to Mars are managed by Steven Squyres and the Cornell Astronomy Department.

Cornell University maintains facilities in Washington, D.C. and New York City for its Cornell in Washington, Urban Semester, and Urban Scholars Programs.

Other facilities include

  • Cornell Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point in Bridgeport
  • Punta Cana and EsBaran biodiversity field stations in the Dominican Republic and Peru
  • Arnot Teaching and Research Forest natural resources center in Tompkins and Schuyler Counties.
  • Animal Science Teaching and Research Center in Harford, and Duck Research Laboratory in Eastport, New York
  • Offices of the New York Sea Grant, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and School of Industrial and Labor Relations Extension Service throughout New York State
  • Offices for Cornell-administered study abroad programs such as the Cornell-Nepal Study Program and Cornell-in-Rome

Student life


Cornell is considered one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. There are more than 800 registered student organizations, running the interest gamut from kayaking to full-armor jousting, from varsity and club sports and a cappella groups to improvisational theatre, from political clubs and publications to chess and video game clubs. It also houses the largest fully student-run organization in the Ivy League in the form of its marching band. Cornell also hosts one of the largest fraternity and sorority systems in North America, with over 60 chapters involving 30 percent of undergraduate students. Many groups are subsidized financially by the Student Assembly Finance Commission, a student-run organization that gives nearly $1,000,000 a year to clubs and organizations. The oldest student organization is the internationally recognized Cornell University Glee Club. The school's newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun, is the oldest continuously independent college daily in the United States, having been published since September, 1880.


File:Stairway Balch Hall.JPG
Balch Hall is a women-only dormitory on North Campus

University housing is broadly divided into three sections: West Campus, Collegetown and North Campus. As a result of President Hunter R. Rawlings III's 1997 Residential Initative, West Campus houses mostly transfer and returning students, whereas North Campus is almost entirely populated by freshmen. The only options for living on North Campus for upperclassmen are the program houses: Risley Residential College, Just About Music (JAM), the Ecology House, Holland International Living Center (HILC), the Multicultural Living Learning Unit (MLLU), the Latino Living Center (LLC), Akwe:kon, and Ujaama.

In an attempt to create a sense of community and an atmosphere of education outside the classroom, the University has undertaken the $250 million residential college project on West Campus. In line with Andrew Dickson White's vision of the University, the West Campus housing will be demolished and rebuilt as five residential colleges. The first House, the Alice Cook House, was opened to students in 2004, followed by the Carl Becker House in 2005. The next house will be the Hans Bethe House. The names of the Houses come from notable Cornell professors. The idea of building a House system can be attributed in part to the success of Risley Residential College, the oldest continually-in-use residential college at Cornell. Like Risley, the new houses will have their own dining halls, student governments, in-house lectures, House trips, and crests. The completion of the five-"House" "residential college" campus will occur in 2010 [11].

A variety of off-campus housing options exist. Many homes in the East Hill neighborhoods adjacent to the University have been converted to apartments, and several high-rise apartment complexes have been constructed in the Collegetown neighborhood. A significant number of undergraduate students live in fraternity and sorority houses. Many "co-op" or other independent living units such as Watermargin, Telluride House, Young Israel, and the Wait Cooperative also exist.

The campus dining services have been rated as one of the top college dining services many times in recent years.


Two beautiful, deep gorges cut through the Cornell campus. They are infamous for students who have leapt to their death. According to Cornell's Gannett Health Services, over 10 years the average number of student suicides is two per year, consistent with national epidemiological data for college student suicides (1 per 10,000). This is half the national rate for individuals in this age group who are not in college. The myth that Cornell features one of the nation's highest suicide rates is most likely promulgated by:

  • Suicides in the gorges by Ithaca residents and visitors
  • A media focus on Cornell
  • Word of mouth, urban legends
  • Accidental deaths of students in the gorges

Cornell is involved in a collaboration with the Jed Foundation and several other universities to enhance and evaluate university-wide efforts to identify and intervene with students in distress, prevent suicides, reduce harm related to mental health problems, and enhance student mental health.

Cornell's Image

Complaints by students, especially with regard to the "Big Red Box" logo, led the Student Assembly to form an Image Committee to improve Cornell's image. With this effort, and the release of a completely redesigned new website, the university seeks to create a public image more in line with other Ivy League schools. Among other accomplishments, it successfully convinced the University in 2004 to replace the briefly lived "Big Red Box" logo (seen on the right) of the school initiated by then-president Hunter Rawlings.


File:Cornell Hockey Victory.jpg
Cornell's 2002-2003 Ivy League Champion & Frozen Four Hockey Team

Cornell has one of the most diverse varsity athletic programs in the country. It sponsors 36 varsity teams. An NCAA Division I institution, Cornell is a member of the Ivy League and also competes in Eastern College Athletic Conference, the largest athletic conference in North America. Cornell's traditional football rival is the University of Pennsylvania; in 1993, the two institutions celebrated the 100th anniversary of their first game. More keenly followed in the present day are the men's ice hockey contests with Harvard University, although the rivalry has been somewhat one-sided in recent years, with Cornell leading 15-3-1 since the 95-96 season.

In addition to the school's varsity athletics, a wide variety of club sports teams have been organized as student organizations under the auspices of the Dean of Students.

Cornell's intramural program includes 30 sports. In addition to such familiar sports such as flag football, squash, or horseshoes, such unusual offerings as "inner tube water polo," and formerly "broomstick polo" have been offered, as well as a sports trivia competition.

See Cornell Big Red for more Cornell Athletics information.


Cornell University has over 1,550 full-time and part-time academic faculty members, and an additional 1,600 affiliated with its medical divisions. The 2003-04 Cornell faculty included 4 Nobel laureates, a Crawford Prize winner, 2 Turing Award winners, a Fields Medal winner, 2 Legion of Honor recipients, a World Food Prize winner, 4 National Medal of Science winners, 2 Wolf Prize winners, 4 MacArthur Award winners, 3 Pulitzer Prize winners, 13 Alexander von Humboldt Award winners, 2 Eminent Ecologist Award recipients, a Carter G. Woodson Scholars Medallion recipient, 3 Presidential Early Career Award holders, 23 National Science Foundation CAREER grant holders, a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research, a winner of the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a recipient of the Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, a Packard Foundation grant holder, a Searle Scholar, a Keck Distinguished Young Scholar, 2 Beckman Foundation Young Investigator grant holders, and a NYSTAR (New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research) early career award winner. In total, Cornell is affiliated to 31 Nobel laureates.

Among Cornell's notable former professors are Carl Sagan, Norman Malcolm, Vladimir Nabokov, Hans Bethe, Clinton Rossiter, Richard Feynman, Kip S. Thorne, and Allan Bloom.


As of August 2003 Cornell University counted over 220,000 living alumni. The Office of Alumni Affairs and Development sponsors a wide variety of affinity programs, activities, and organizations, including annual Reunion Weekend and Homecoming Weekend festivities in Ithaca, and the International Spirit of Zinck's Night sponsored by Cornell offices and organizations around the world. The various classes, regional clubs, and special interest associations are coordinated by the Cornell Alumni Federation.

Cornell ranked first in gifts and bequests from alumni and third in total support from all sources (alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations) among U.S. colleges and universities reporting voluntary gift support received in fiscal year 2003-4. [12]

Cornell boasts many notable alumni; see Cornellians for a listing.


Cornelliana is broad term used to refer to all things that are related to Cornell's unique traditions, legends, and lore.


  1. ^  Ezra Cornell:A 19th Century Life – From the Cornell University Library Archives
  2. ^  How old is Cornell? - From the Cornell University official website
  3. ^  Facts about Cornell - From the Cornell University official website

External links


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