February 15, 2001

Faculty Senate Looks at Future of Ward Reactor

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Cramming 13 items into its agenda, the Faculty Senate held its monthly meeting yesterday in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium (HEC).

The agenda devoted anywhere from one minute to 20 minutes to each item.

The Senate spent 20 minutes on a Local Advisory Committee (LAC) report on Ward Laboratory.


Vice-provost Robert Richardson asked the LAC, a Faculty Senate committee, to review the Ward Laboratory’s activities in an effort to fulfill the lab’s original charter, which stated that the lab was to be inspected in 1998.

Established by the Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees in 1996, the Ward reactor is the only nuclear reactor in New York state. It is one of only 15 active university research reactors in the U.S.


LAC unanimously decided that there was “no compelling case between the existence of the Ward reactor on the Cornell campus and any role Cornell might play in a possible future resurgence in the field of nuclear power engineering,” said Prof. James Shelby Thorp, engineering, the chair of LAC.

“There are many of these reactors being shut down across the country,” Thorp said.

He announced that it was the recommendation of the committee that the reactor be shut down.

“[Nuclear reactors] are not something that students rush to study,” Thorp said.

His presentation was followed by one from Prof. Peter Kuniholm, history of art, and Kenan