February 17, 2004

Task Force to Create Substitute Program for Transfer Students

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After deciding last semester to eliminate the transfer center, the West Campus Residential Initiative (WCRI) has organized a task force to create a substitute program for transfer students. A planning group for the task force met for the first time last Thursday and plans to meet three additional times throughout the semester.

The task force membership will include Don King, director of student services; Jean Reese, WCRI project leader; Isaac Kramnick, vice provost for undergraduate education; Kate Covert, Residence Hall Director for transfer students; Prof. Ann-Margaret Esnard, city and regional planning; selected faculty members and three selected transfer students.

According to King, it will be a number of years before the transfer center is taken down. “The task force was organized now so that a solid program for transfer students can be in place by the time the transfer center is eliminated,” King said. However, the task force will not go into full implementation until the Alice Cook House is up.

The goal of the task force is to find a way to keep a sense of community on West Campus without the transfer center. One idea suggested by committee members was to create a new title of Assistant Dean for Transfer Students. One assistant dean would reside in each of the five new houses. These deans would offer students the guidance that is now provided by the transfer center. However, this idea is only preliminary and has not yet been endorsed by the committee.

Over ten percent of the incoming students at Cornell are transfers. Of the 600 transfer students currently living on West Campus, 200 of them live in the transfer center. Under the new housing system, transfer students will be assigned in smaller groupings to one of the five new houses being built on West Campus. The first of these, the Alice Cook House, will be completed by this fall. The projected date of completion for all five houses is 2010.

Next year, there will be fewer than 50 transfer students residing in Alice Cook House. According to Mike Zuckerman ’06, a transfer representative, transfer students who elect to live on campus will be divided between the five houses by 2009. The transfer center will continue to house approximately 200 transfers each year until its demolition in 2009.

The transfer center has been essential in helping transfer students acclimate to life at Cornell, and many transfers are concerned about how its elimination will affect their transition.

According to Zuckerman, 200 transfer students signed a petition last semester to keep the transfer center. Though at that point the decision to eliminate it was irreversible, Reese and Kramnick were more than willing to meet with the upset students to discuss an alternative plan. This is when they collectively decided to create the task force. “[Reese and Kramnick] were very supportive and eager to help,” Zuckerman said.

“Many of us are upset about the transfer center, but we are optimistic that the new task force will be a good substitute for the transfers,” Zuckerman said. “The faculty has shown a great deal of concern for the students’ needs. They’ve been working with us and are really helping us out.”

Archived article by Missy Kurzweil