As the graduating members of the Class of 2016 ready themselves for Commencement, we took a look at the top stories from the past four years at Cornell. Read more in our special graduation issue.
Spring 2016: President Elizabeth Garret Dies at 52, Less Than One Year After Assuming Office
Cornell’s first female president died of colon cancer on March 6. “She was the quintessential Cornellian,” Board of Trustees chair Robert Harrison ’76 said.
- Jan. 26 — Chapter House Renovations Plans Announced: The Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved plans to rebuild the Chapter House.
- Feb. 6 — Psi Upsilon President Pleads Not Guilty to Rape Charges: Wolfgang Ballinger ’17 was charged with first-degree attempted rape, first-degree criminal sexual act and first-degree sexual abuse in connection with an incident that occurred at the Psi Upsilon fraternity. Ballinger later filed a civil suit against Cornell, claiming that the University’s investigations do not comply with state guidelines.
- March 8 — Basketball Player Xavier Eaglin ’19 Arrested on Rape Charges: CUPD charged Eaglin with first-degree rape, three counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault and criminal obstruction of breating or blood circulation
- May 16 — Johnson Alumnus Donates $25M to Business Education at Cornell: The gift from David Breazzano MBA ’80 will support the new classroom and office building under construction on Dryden Road in Collegetown.
- Oct. 31 — A.D. White Statue Defaced: The statue of Cornell’s first president was spray painted with the word “Divest, which a cleanup crew later removed. Students criticized the defacement on the “Overheard at Cornell” Facebook page.
- Nov. 11 — Hundreds Stage Ithaca College Walkout: Students, faculty and staff poured into Ithaca College’s academic quad, calling for the resignation of I.C. President Tom Rochon for his handling of racial tensions on campus.
- Nov. 23 — Garrett Approves Anabel’s Grocery: In the midst of a vibrant campus debate about how to tackle food insecurity, President Elizabeth Garrett gave final approval for plans to open a student-run grocery store in Anabel Taylor Hall.
- Dec. 31 — Dunbar’s Closes Doors After 36 Years in Collegetown: The popular watering hole shut its doors. It followed the steps of a number of local bars to close in recent years, including Pixel Lounge and Stella’s.
Honoring the 150th anniversary of the signing of the University’s charter, major Cornell figures came together to celebrate numerous facets of the Cornell experience, from the intellectual vibrancy of campus to the strength of the faculty body.
- Jan. 19 — Man Pleads Not Guilty in Murder of Cornell Student: Benjamin Cayea, who was accused of strangling Shannon Jones ’15 to death on Thanksgiving Day, pled not guilty to murder charges. He was later found guilty of second-degree murder.
- Feb. 2 — $50 Million Verizon Gift to Fund Cornell Tech Education Center: With a multimillion dollar gift from Verizon, Cornell Tech will develop the Verizon Executive Education Center, where students, faculty and other members of the tech community can collaborate and bring cutting-edge ideas to life.
- Feb. 19 — Students Occupy Day Hall in Protest of $350 Health Fee: Over 100 students occupied Day Hall for at least four hours, clashing with administrators as they packed offices and opposed the new mandatory health fee that was announced Feb. 5.
- April 14 — Morning Blaze Destroys Iconic Chapter House Pub: Smoke billowed from the 400 block of Stewart Ave. on the morning of April 14 as an early morning blaze destroyed a multi-story complex housing the iconic Chapter House pub and a neighboring apartment building. No injuries were reported in connection with the incident.
The Board of Trustees unanimously appointed Elizabeth Garrett — the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at USC — to serve as the Cornell’s president.
- Sept. 18 — Vice President Susan Murphy Announces Retirement: After more than 20 years at Cornell as vice president for student and academic services, Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94 retired from her post.
- Oct. 6 — Cornell Launches $150 Million Public Engagement Plan: Embracing its land grant mission, Cornell launched “Engaged Cornell,” a 10-year initiative for community engagement and public service-related coursework, which all undergraduates will participate in by 2025.
- Dec. 4 — Ruloff’s Bar and Restaurant to Reopen After Sudden Closing: After closing its doors in early September — a move that shocked Cornellians and employees of the restaurant alike — Gregar Brous, owner of Collegetown Bagels, purchased the Collegetown staple with plans to reopen its doors in the spring semester
Spring 2014: Skorton to Depart Cornell to Head Smithsonian
Skorton’s eight-year term included pivotal moments for Cornell, including navigating the financial crisis, winning the New York City tech campus competition, raising money to build the University’s first new humanities building in a century and launching Cornell’s first massive open online courses. He currently serves as the secretary of the Smithsonian museums.
- Jan. 23 — Return of Cornell Dairy Pleases Campus: After three years on ice — during which the Stocking Hall Dairy Bar closed for remodeling, then reopened without Cornell Dairy ice cream — the popular treat returned to campus.
- Jan. 30 — Gannet Health Services to Expand by 2017: The University plans to more than double the overall size of Gannett Health Services by 2017, with construction beginning in spring 2015.
- April 18 — Cornellians Take Over Student Assembly Meeting: Student activists took control of the regularly scheduled Student Assembly meeting after the S.A. tabled a resolution calling for the divestment from pro-Israeli companies.
Two years after President David Skorton said Cornell should aim to “ensure that no less than 50 percent of Cornell undergraduates have an international experience,” University officials say they have seen rising enrollment in abroad and foreign exchange programs and an increased number of international students attending Cornell.
- Sept. 19 — C.U. Offers Free Tuition to Inner City Scholars: As a result of a new partnership, some high school graduates from the country’s lowest-income school districts will be able to attend Cornell for free starting Fall 2014.
- Nov. 14 — Former Players Dumbfounded by Dismissal of C.U. Men’s Lacrosse Coach: The University dismissed Ben DeLuca ’98, former head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, two months after the team was sanctioned for a hazing incident.
- Dec. 19 — Bloomberg and Skorton Sign Lease for Tech Campus: President David Skorton and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the 99-year lease for Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island.
Spring 2013: Cornell Celebrates Removal of Fences
Following a string of suicides in 2010, Cornell installed seven fences on its bridges. These fences came down in May 2013, which marked a three-year-saga that provoked debates over how to best prevent suicides from happening in the City of Ithaca’s iconic gorges.
- Jan. 22 — Cornell Tech Welcomes Inaugural Class: Cornell Tech students began their first semester of classes at the Google headquarters in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in the spring of 2013.
- Feb. 8 — Student Assembly Urges Cornell to Divest from Fossil Fuels: The Cornell Student Assembly passes a resolution in February demanding that the University divest from fossil fuels by the end of 2020, as well as called for 30 percent of the divested money to be reinvested in sustainable enterprises.
- April 12 — Construction of Klarman Hall to Begin Summer 2013: After much discussing and planning, the construction of Klarman Hall, which will be entirely focused on the humanities, finally began.
- April 22 — Two Cornell Alumni Donate $133 Million to Tech Campus: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in April that Irwin Jacobs ’56, co-founder of Qualcomm Inc., and his wife, Joan Jacobs ’52, gave a $133-million gift to Cornell Tech.
A string of reported attacks, one that CUPD later ruled false, spurred student protest of the University’s sexual assault policy. Police urged students to “take prudent and necessary safety precautions,” after two sexual assaults and one incident of harassment were reported in one early September weekend.
- Sept. 17 — Citing Labor Abuses, C.U. Severs Adidas Contract: Cornell became the first university to cease business with the athletic apparel company due to allegations of workers’ rights abuses.
- Nov. 19 — Gaza Conflict Sparks Heated Rallies: As Israelis and Gazans fired missiles at each other, hundreds of Cornellians took to Ho Plaza for dueling demonstrations in support of each side of the conflict.