At the Board of Trustees meetings this weekend, administrators praised new donations from alumni, including a significant gift for athletics, along with the academic wealth of a highly diverse, highly talented freshman class.
New gifts and commitments from alumni totaled $528 million, President Hunter R. Rawlings III proclaimed during the State of the University address in the Statler Auditorium on Friday.
Rawlings also announced that Hank and Nancy Bartel, both members of the Class of 1948, will provide $15 million to invest in new athletic programs.
The couple already sponsors the Bartels World Affairs Fellows, a lecture series which has brought speakers such as the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Cornell.
“In gratitude for their generosity, which comes at a critical time in the development of our athletic programs, we will be naming the Cornell Field House ‘Bartels Hall,'” Rawlings announced.
In April 1999, a report drafted by the Trustee Task Force on Athletics found that Cornell’s winning percentage in Ivy League competitions was “unacceptably weak and inconsistent with the University’s commitment to excellence.” The Task Force suggested an investment of $10 million in facilities as one way to improve athletics.
“I have heard it said that our alums’ relationship to Cornell is a lot like a marriage,” Rawlings said. “But with two important differences: divorce is not allowed, but we still require perpetual alimony.”
The Board of Trustees and its advisory body, the University Council, met in open and private sessions throughout the weekend.
At the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, trustees heard reports on issues that relate to the statutory colleges, which are subject to open meeting laws. The agenda included admission rates, faculty salaries and academic programs.
Rawlings described an increased representation of women, minorities and children of alumni in the Class of 2004.
“This is extremely encouraging,” Rawlings said. “We’ll have to continue to have these increases if we want to have an impact on the academy as well as the professional world.”
Doris Davis, associate provost in the Office of Admissions and Enrollment, pointed to a greater focus on recruiting students from New York, Florida, Texas and California. “These states will be among the most ethnically and racially diverse in the nation,” she said. “We need to become savvier about marketing the institution.”
However, because there are no plans to increase enrollment, statutory colleges are hurting from a $4 million budget shortfall as the State University of New York continues to reward schools which increase the size of their student populations.
“The faculty salaries can be covered with reserves,” said Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin. “The big problems are accessory instruction, facilities and maintenance, which were hit the hardest.”
The meeting also touched upon Lake Source Cooling, construction and approval of a new environmental science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Student-elected Trustee David Mahon ’01 called this year’s meeting “one of the best” yet, noting how much the “trustees care about this campus,” he said.
Mahon said that trustees pressed questions about student safety, race relations and the recruitment of minorities.
“You can be surprised how much trustees know about what goes on day to day on campus,” he added.
The Board of Trustees will reconvene in January in New York City.
Archived article by Beth Herskovits