December 7, 2001

Trustees Hear Progress Report

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The Building and Properties Committee and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees met yesterday in New York City to hear an address from President Hunter R. Rawlings III and to discuss the progress of state projects at Cornell.

Updating Mann

At the open session of the Building and Properties Committee, Gregg Travis, director of statutory facilities, updated the board on the design plans for construction at the old Mann Library. Construction is expected to begin in 2003 under the condition that alternate office space may be allocated for Martha van Rensselaer staff displaced by construction.

For the Bailey Hall renovations, an architect and a design have been chosen, according to Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations. Plans for the project are still in their preliminary stages and will be finalized in future meetings, Dullea stated. Completion is scheduled for spring 2004.

The board noted that the budget for the Necropsy facility at the College of Veterinary Medicine surpassed its limit and a large adjustment is needed. The analysis, according to Dullea, will take some time.


Travis informed the committee that the State University Construction Fund has not yet decided whether to renovate Martha Van Rensselaer Hall (MVR) or to build a new facility in its place. The building was shut down July 10 when experts determined that the floor slabs in the newly finished North wing did not meet the current State Building Code.

“The overall estimated cost of the project including any construction, asbestos abatement, demolition and relocating [offices] of Martha van Rensselaer during the meantime is 31.5 million dollars,” Dullea said.

The proposal is currently under review in Albany, with a decision pending at the end of the month.

If the decision to either reconstruct or renovate MVR is announced by the end of this month, offices at Mann will be vacated by July 2003, construction will begin by September 2004, and the project will be completed by September 2007. This schedule however, depends on the decision and the timely relocation of the Mann offices.

At the closed session of the Building and Properties Committee, Cornell’s task force reported on the proposed sites for the Life Sciences/Technology building. The original site for the building was Alumni Fields. After a recommendation to the task force in October to relocate the facility, other sites are now being considered. The task force has met three times but still there is no decision. The task force will meet again prior to the next Board of Trustees meeting.

The open session of the Executive Committee meeting began with a report from Rawlings. He expressed pride in Cornell for the maturity and responsibility of its response to Sept. 11, according to Dullea. Rawlings mentioned the good job Cornell has done in reaching out to support Muslim students; he noted his appreciation for volunteers who helped out with counseling and other services, and praised the faculty for holding successful teach-ins, Dullea stated.

Rawlings also addressed the board about the hiring freeze and how Cornell might be affected by the predicted decrease in the state budget and in the endowment.

“The current year budget is looking strong and stable, but [we foresee] a potential significant shortfall in the budget from New York State,” said Dullea. “Private giving may be affected and there was a loss of endowment as a result of the direction of the stock market.”

Lastly, the board announced the University’s re-accreditation by the Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education. To achieve accreditation the University evaluates its strengths and weaknesses and sets to achieve higher goals. Under the standard ten-year accreditation, Cornell is required to provide Middle States with an update of its progress in five years.

Archived article by Rachel Einschlag