The sky was clear on the bright, sun-filled morning just a year ago when Cornellians gathered on the Arts Quad to celebrate the start of the next chapter in Cornell’s history. During Homecoming, the community met for the inauguration of our 13th president, marking the closing celebrations of our sesquicentennial year. With the statue of Ezra Cornell looming in the background, Elizabeth Garrett stood strong, detailing her vision for Cornell at home and abroad. Just months later, over 1,000 Cornellians gathered at the same site, but now on an overcast afternoon. Facing toward Andrew Dickson White this time, we gathered in silence as the chimes rang commemorating President Garrett’s time on the Hill.
One of the benches at the Sesquicentennial Commemorative Grove bears a quote by Cornell’s second president, Charles Kendall Adams, who said, “Useful things are taught here.” Besides being ironically obvious for a university (and to a greater extent, rather poetic), this phrase has repeatedly surfaced as I’ve begun to reflect upon my time here on the Hill. Attending a world class research institution such as Cornell, I am not surprised that I received a well-rounded education that enabled me to learn about a variety of subjects, conduct research and challenge myself to teach others. Although I learned a great deal from the numerous instructors I’ve had the pleasure to learn from, I discovered some of the most valuable lessons outside of the classroom (a cliché, no matter how true, expressed by academic advisors everywhere). Many of these experiences would have been unfathomable if not for The Sun. When I first arrived at Cornell, my academic advisor and I were discussing possible career paths, a conversation during which I disclosed my interest in journalism.
In a statement Monday, President Elizabeth Garrett announced she is undergoing treatment at Weill Cornell Medicine following a colon cancer diagnosis. Garrett, who was inaugurated as Cornell’s 13th president in September, is undergoing an “aggressive treatment program” and will reduce her travel schedule and commitments in the months to come. “The senior leadership of the university will be handling many of my commitments, representing me and keeping me up to date as we continue to move Cornell forward to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” she wrote. “I am optimistic that with the support of my family, friends and the Cornell community, I will be able to resume a fuller schedule soon and manage this illness,” Garrett added. “Advances in research and clinical care in cancer offer great hope to patients like me, and Cornell and Weill Cornell lead in advancing science in this arena.