September 27, 2008

Cornell Receives $35 Million Gift to Enhance University Faculty

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This afternoon, President David Skorton officially announced a gift of $35 million dollars made to the University by Andrew and Ann Tisch. Andrew, a member of the Board of Trustees, graduated in 1971.
The endowment will be used to establish the Tisch University Professorships, which aim to preserve and expand University faculty by offering more competitive salaries and supporting graduate research.
The fund comes at a time when universities nationwide are struggling to attract the most renowned scholars, especially mid-career professors.
Interim Provost David Harris, who will be responsible for allocating the funds, found it a “welcome relief.”
“It is especially important in this highly competitive environment to strike quickly while recruiting the most prominent scholars and while retaining Cornell’s most sought-after professors,” Harris stated.
From 2002-2007, 363 Cornell faculty members left. Meanwhile, the University made 388 tenure-tracked appointments. The College of Arts and Sciences, for example, hired a quarter of its faculty in the last five years.
The $35 million endowment is designed to ensure flexibility. Apart from providing professorships, the endowment can fund new initiatives and rebuild academic departments that may get depleted after multiple retirements.
“The provost will now have greater flexibility to address our most urgent needs,” Harris stated.
Prof. Geoffrey Coates, chemistry and chemical biology, associate chair of the chemistry department, has been nominated to be the first Tisch University Professor. He has contributed to the development of biodegradable and sustainable polymers.
“[Coates] is one of our very best people,” Peter Lepage, dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences told the University.
Andrew Tisch is co-chairman of the board and chairman of the executive committee of Loews Corporation, one of the largest diversified corporations in the U.S. Ann Tisch founded The Young Women’s Leadership Foundation and The Young Women’s Leadership School.
The Tisch family has made multiple contributions to Cornell. The Andrew H. and James S. Tisch Distinguished University Professorship was established in 2002 for a professor approaching retirement.