September 15, 2003

Trustee Agenda: Antigone to Bailey

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The Executive Committee of the Cornell University Board of Trustees met last Thursday, Sept. 11 in the Fall Creek Room at the Cornell Club of New York in New York City for their first meeting of the academic year.

A brief open session was held at the beginning of the meeting where the day began with a moment of silence. President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 acknowledged the significance of the day, the seriousness of Sept. 11, as well as the memorial events taking place on campus. Further references to the events of Sept. 11 were made at other committee meetings as well.

In an e-mail to The Sun, Linda Grace-Kobas, interim vice president for communications and media relations, explained, “The yearly schedule for meetings of the Board of Trustees and the executive committee is set in January. Typically, the executive committee has met on the second Thursday in Sept., shortly after the academic year begins.”

“There was discussion among trustees and administration members about scheduling the meeting on the second anniversary of 9/11 and the decision was made in Jan. to keep to the [previously] established schedule,” she said.

Items the executive committee planned on considering during the open session at the beginning of the meeting included a report from Lehman and a report on gift donation results for 2002-2003.

Other topics discussed during the open session included enrollment and the freshmen reading project.

As of July 3, 3,209 of the 6,334 students who were accepted to Cornell had enrolled in the Class of 2007. In an article written for The Sun last semester, Doris Davis, associate provost for admissions and enrollment said that this year was the second year in a row to show a slight decrease in the number of students applying to Cornell. This year, 20,442 applications were received, roughly 1,000 fewer than last year. This, coupled with a slightly higher number of acceptances, placed the University’s admit rate at 31 percent.

Davis said via email that the decline in admissions has “had no effect on the overall quality of the applicant pool,” and promised that “the Class of 2007 is as diverse and academically talented as previous freshmen classes.”

A Cornell news release explains, “The New Student Reading Project is overseen by Provost Biddy (Carolyn A.) Martin and Isaac Kramnick, vice provost for undergraduate education, along with Susan Murphy, vice president for student and academic services and it is sponsored by the Provost’s Office. Cornellians have been reading a special Cornell edition Penguin Classics translation of Antigone by Prof. Robert Fagles, comparative literature, Princeton University.”

According to the news release, “Antigone was selected from a number of possible works for this year’s reading project because ‘it is a timeless text that raises timely issues,’ said Kramnick, ‘and it also serves as a tribute and an honor to Hunter Rawlings’ eight years as Cornell’s president.'”

Also during the meeting’s open session, Prof. Cutberto Garza, nutritional science, was reappointed as vice provost with responsibility for academic liaison.

Garza’s original appointment as vice provost was “part of an administrative restructuring announced by former president Rawlings to strengthen the academic mission of the University and streamline its central reporting structures. The structure concentrates responsibility for the overall operation of the University in the Office of the Provost,” according to another Cornell news release.

The Building and Properties Committee also met last Thursday in the Fall Creek Room. Open session topics included the status of reviews concerning numerous renovation and utilities projects under way on campus.

Significant projects currently underway include the renovation of the 2,000 person capacity Bailey Hall. In a Sun article, Henrik N. Dullea ’61, former vice president for University relations said, “Bailey Hall is one of our older buildings, constructed in 1912, and it’s in need of a long-awaited, comprehensive renovation.” In a 2000 visit to Cornell, Governor George E. Pataki presented the University with $10.6 million from the State of New York for the $13.1 million project.

Prof. James B. Maas, psychology, has been teaching his Psychology 101 class, usually taught in Bailey, in the Statler Auditorium and reduced its enrollment from 1600 to 700 students. Likewise, the Cornell Concert Commission has decided to rely on Barton Hall as their major venue.

The next board of trustees meeting is scheduled for Oct. 17-18 in Ithaca. The executive committee will meet again on Dec. 11 in New York City.

Archived article by Brian Kaviar