August 21, 2007

C.U. Motto Earns Top Rank

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While nearly every Cornell student is aware of Cornell’s motto, it has now been recognized on a national scale, as it was named the top motto among U.S. universities by Motto Magazine.
Cornell topped the list with the legendary words written by Ezra Cornell in a letter to Andrew Dickson White in which he wrote, “I would found an institution where any person could find instruction in any study.”
Motto Magazine’s editors reviewed hundreds of different college mottos before compiling The 10 Best College Mottos. The influence the mottos have on alumni is “subject to your interpretation,” according to Kevin Salwen, Motto Magazine co-founder and former Wall Street Journal editor.
“The beauty of this motto is its inherent accuracy,” said Tommy Bruce, vice president for university communications. “Cornell University students come from all walks of life, all income levels, races, religions and lifestyles. They come from all corners of the globe to study archaeology, biology, botany, government, music, physics — subjects too numerous to mention here.”
Cornell’s motto beat out mottos such as Brown University’s “In God we hope” and Clark Atlanta’s “I’ll find a way or make one.”
“I think it’s a great motto,” said Claudia Wheatley, senior writer and marketing consultant with Cornell’s Office of Publications and Marketing. “When we use it, people relate to it. The ‘any person’ part refers to the democratic spirit upon which this University was founded. The ‘any study’ part speaks for itself … That you can go to one place; go to where your intellectual curiosity takes you.”
According to Wheatley, Cornell researched the effectiveness of the motto over the winter and found that high school students around the county believed the motto offered a very attractive and appealing message.
Students also enjoy the offerings of 4,000 courses and ability to take courses from any of the seven colleges.
“It basically speaks for itself,” said Leah Bernhardi ’09. “I think it conveys the diversity of the school and the fact that you can study anything you can possibly imagine here. The sky’s the limit.”
Bernhardi indicated the motto influenced her decision to attend Cornell.
“When I was looking at schools, that’s why I came here … I realized there were so many different areas that you could explore.”
Several freshmen new to Cornell said the motto had an effect on their college decision.
“I was looking for a campus with diversity and with a larger world view than the typical university, said Kathleen Jercich ’11.
“I though it definitely sounded appealing. [Cornell’s motto] struck me as one of the pros when I was touring college campuses.”
For Jeremy Coyakiat ’11, the motto convinced him he would feel at home at Cornell.
“As an international student, ‘any person’ comforted me to let me know I was welcome,” he said.
Sarita Upadhyay ’11 believes the motto is an accurate description of Cornell.
“Now that I’m here I think it holds pretty true. Now that I’m seeing everything, I realize how many options I have,” she said.