May 25, 2010

Four Years at Cornell: Timeline

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9.7.06 Skorton Takes Office as President: President David Skorton officially took office during an inauguration on the Arts Quad. However, he had been serving as president since the beginning of the 06-07 academic year. His first days were marked by his first official address to the Class of 2010 in Barton Hall, a stay in Mary Donlon Hall with his wife, Robin, and the traditional swim test required of all entering freshmen.

9.19.06 Plans for Milstein Hall Announced: Architect Rem Koolhaas revealed the design for the new $40 million building for the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

10.26.06 Cornell Begins $4 billion Capital Campaign: After much anticipation, Cornell University publicly announced  the launch of its $4 billion “Far Above” capital campaign at the Weill Medical College in New York City. The launching of the capital campaign came at a time when Cornell’s endowment had fallen behind many of its Ivy League peers. “We have work to do,” President David Skorton stated in a press release.

11.28.06 Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres speaks in Bailey Hall: Shimon Peres was on hand at Cornell in November 2006 to talk about Israel’s relationship with the Arab world, including the steps the nation has taken to curb terrorism since the first wave of suicide bombings hit more than a decade ago. Speaking to a near-capacity crowd in Cornell’s Bailey Hall, Peres explained that the Israeli-Arab conflict stems from the inability of some members of the Arab community to adapt to a modernizing world. “The present struggle between and Israel and the Palestinians is not a clash between cultures or religions,” Peres contended, “but a clash among generations. There exists a generation in the Arab world that is afraid of modernity, and they refuse to [live in the future].”

2.15.07 Snow Day: The University shut down due to snow for first since since March 1999. Morning classes were held, but administrators decided at 10 a.m. conditions were too bad for continued operations.

2.23.07 Skorton Signs Carbon Neutrality Pact: President David Skorton committed to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment agreement, adding Cornell to the growing list of educational institutions across the country that “recognize the need to reduce the global emission of greenhouse gases by 80 percent by mid-century at the latest.”

4.11.07 Kurt Vonnegut Dies: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. ’44, a former Sun editor, died in Manhattan. Vonnegut is one of Cornell’s most famous alumni; he wrote novels, essays, short fiction and poetry, including Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle. Vonnegut came to Cornell in 1941, where he majored in chemistry, joined the Delta Upsilon Fraternity and eventually became associate editor of The Sun. He left Cornell in 1943 to serve in the army. He would not return to Cornell.

3.10.07 Student Charged with Animal Abuse: Alexander Atkind ’06 was accused of beating a dog and burning her with bleach in March 2007. Atkind was arraigned misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty in Tompkins County City Court, but was ultimately convicted of felony animal abuse later in the year. Atkind was originally charged with one misdemeanor count of overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal on March 10, a day after the dog’s owner contacted Ithaca Police with a charge of abuse. According to an Ithaca police report, the owner claimed that he had left the dog, named Princess, in Atkind’s care while spending the night at the house of a family member.The officer arrived at the owner’s home and found the dog with a one to two inch laceration that had exposed a portion of her skull, according to the report. Bleach and detergent were also spilled in the dog’s kennel area. The officer collected Princess and brought her to Cornell’s veterinary hospital for treatment.

Cornell Named Hottest Ivy: Ithaca is cold, as the t-shirts proclaim, but Cornell, in August 2007, was proclaimed the hottest Ivy, according to an article in printed in Newsweek magazine. The article provides no precise definition of “hot,” but it was based on a subjective survey of what Newsweek considers to be the 25 hottest universities is simply a “quick and colorful snapshot of today’s most interesting schools.” Newsweek lauded Cornell for its comprehensive education — its hotel school, “world-class engineering college and top-flight liberal arts, science and fine arts.”

10.3.07 Collegetown Building Moratorium Passed:  The Ithaca Common Council passed a motion to impose a 12-month moratorium in Collegetown — putting a halt on development proposals and proceedings in the community. The moratorium expired in April 2009.11.30.07 John Ashcroft Visits Cornell: Former U.S. Attorney John Ascroft spoke at Cornell. He was met with protest from students, and discussed dicey topics such as torture and national security.

Cases of Racism in Ithaca Stir Controvery: Two cases of racism gained the attention of the Cornell and Ithaca communities. The most publicized accusation of racism came from Ithaca resident Amelia Kearney, whose daughter reported she was physically and emotionally abused by her classmates two years ago at the district’s DeWitt Middle School. Second, a controversy stemmed from a Sept. 2007 incident at D.P. Dough in downtown Ithaca, when Christine Baptiste-Perez ’10 and three friends, all women, were allegedly harassed while eating a late-night meal. At around 1:30 a.m., two white men entered the restaurant and allegedly began verbally assaulting the four women, all of whom attend Cornell and are of African descent, with sexist and racist remarks. The confrontation escalated to an argument, and the restaurant manager soon called police after the parties involved refused to leave the premises. Ithaca police officers arrived and, according to Baptiste-Perez, told the four women that neither the manager of D.P. Dough nor the two customers had done anything wrong.

2.29.08 Concealed Carry Movement Hits Cornell: In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 dead in April 2007, members of the Student Assembly and the Cornell College Republicans sponsored Resolution 17 calling for “concealed carry [of weapons] on campus.” The resolution, which would have required New York State law to be revised, was rejected by the S.A.

3.14.08 Louie’s Lunch Robbed at Gunpoint: A 25-year-old man was arrested and charged with robbing Louie’s Lunch Truck at gunpoint. After being handed a few hundred dollars in cash, the suspect fled on foot traveling north on Thurston Avenue before he was ultimately tracked down by the police.

3.24.07 Meningitis Scares C.U.: The threat of bacterial meningitis struck Cornell in March when two students were hospitalized with the rare, yet potentially fatal disease that kills approximately 100 to 125 college students per year. Over two weeks after the initial scare, the two students, a 21-year-old female and a 20-year-old male, were released from the hospital and were recovering.

4.3.08 Syphilis Spreads in Timpkins County: Gannett and the Tompkins County Health Department confirmed in April that nine people in the county had been diagnosed with syphilis in the past year. The number was alarmingly high, given that in a typical year approximately one case of syphilis is recorded in the county.

4.15.08 C-Town Robber Caught: Whitley “Cash” Taylor, the alleged ringleader in a string of armed robberies on campus and in Collegetown, was arrested in Washington, D.C. in April.

4.30.08 I.C. Student Found Dead: The New York State Police recovered the body of Ithaca College freshman William Jacobson from a campus pond. Jacobson was last seen returning from a party and a forensic autopsy later indicated that he had drowned accidentally.

8.28.08 Schedulizer Shuts Down: Cap­ping a year of scheduling difficulties with the newly implemented PeopleSoft course management system, Add/Drop caused frustration for students trying to plan their fall semester courses last August. On the same day, Schedulizer announced that it would disable its services for Cornell students because of a disagreement with the Registrar. Schedulizer was brought back a day later, and the University administration has continued to streamline PeopleSoft.

9.2.08 Clubfest Protest:  A protest at Clubfest in August brought attention to racial issues at Cornell as members of various minority groups congregated to speak out against The Cornell Review’s controversial portrayal of minority students in its orientation week issue. The Review refused to apologize for the alleged racist remarks, prompting students to ask the Student Assembly to remove the word “Cornell” from The Review’s title.

9.15.08 Collegetown Goes Dark: Col­lege­town went dark on a breezy September night as winds from Hurricane Ike blew out power lines and exploded transformers. Students wandered around Collegetown, partaking in a rare communal opportunity to do absolutely nothing. Power was reinstalled the next day.

Cornell Receives Generous Gifts: Cornell’s capital campaign saw unprecedented success, aided specifically by two large donations. The Tata Foundation, headed by Ratan Tata ’62, gave $50 million to Cornell to research agriculture and provide scholarships for Indian students in October. The Tisch Family also donated $35 million to maintain and expand the faculty in September. Other recent donations have allowed for the opening of the state-of-the-art Weill Hall in October.

Noise Violations Anger Students: A wave of noise violations hit Collegetown students this fall due to a new rule allowing police to issue violations even if there is no complaint made by a neighbor. Students lashed out against the rising number of fines, culminating in an appeal to the Common Council by S.A. president Ryan Lavin ’09 to change the rules. An evangelical minister who preached on The Commons also filed a lawsuit claiming the city’s noise ordinance is unconstitutional, which may result in a settlement.

10.17.08 Fuchs Replaces Martin as Provost:  After former Provost Biddy Martin announced last summer that she would be leaving Cornell to become chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University put together a search team to begin looking for her replacement. In October, Skorton announced to the Board of Trustees that Kent Fuchs, former dean of the College of Engineering, would become the next provost. He began his position at the beginning of this year.

10.30.08 University Issues Construction Freeze: The spiraling economy hit home for Cornell when President David Skorton announced a 90-day hiring freeze in October for staff and a pause on construction. While University officials speculated that employees would need to be laid off, the University promised to do everything in its power to protect those jobs. At the end of last year, Cornell announced a 27-percent loss in its endowment.

11.14.08 University Announces New Aid Policy: Following the revamped financial aid announced by Cornell in January, the University further updated its policies in November to cap loans for those in need. Coming at a time of need for many families, the plan hopes to allow students whose families are affected by the economic crisis to still be able to attend Cornell. Furthermore, the plan seeks to attract more diverse students.

1.20.09 Presidential Inauguration: Barack Obama  was inaugurated as the 44th president and the first African-American president after a landslide election last November.

2.10.09 Gaza Protests Erupt on Campus:  In February, over 1,300 black flags — each symbolizing one of the Palestinian or Israeli lives lost in the conflict — were arranged on the Arts Quad in protest of the Gaza crisis. Over half of the flags and accompanying signs were re­moved from the Arts Quad, vandalized and later rearranged to the formation of a Jewish star, igniting a wave of controversy.

2.17.09 Hydraulics Lab Collapses: Cor­nell’s Hydraulics Lab — a decaying stone building that projected out from Fall Creek Gorge next to the Triphammer Footbridge and across from the Alumni House — collapsed in mid-February, ending any speculation as to how long the structurally precarious building would last.

2.20.09 Cornell Severs Ties with Russell Athletics: Due to pressure from Cornell Organization for Labor Action, Cornell severed ties with Russell Athletics. The company’s factory, Jerzees de Honduras, was shut down due to the unionization of its workers.

2.27.09 SWAT Team Busts Linden House: The Ithaca SWAT team and Tompkins County Sheriff executed a narcotics-related search warrant at a house on the 200 block of Linden Avenue. The search recovered an undisclosed amount of cash and scales, according to an Ithaca Police officer.

4.23.09 Chi Alpha President Forced to Quit: The Sun reported that Chris Donohoe ’09 was asked to step down from his leadership position in the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship due to his homosexuality, igniting student de­mands for LGBT rights.

Cornell Looks Within As Deficit Looms: With Cornell’s current budget deficit still totaling over $135 million, the University was forced to seriously reconsider its future. “Reimagining Cornell” — an effort the University touted as “one of the most comprehensive self-examinations in its 144-year history” — is the University’s current strategic plan that top administrators hope will set Cornell on stable financial footing.

The project has two phases: identifying areas across colleges where expenses can be trimmed and rebuilding Cornell accordingly into a “leaner and stronger institution,” according to the University. The work was first divided between task forces of those affiliated with the University and with Bain & Co., a global consulting firm. The findings of these task forces were released to the public in November, and contained a wide range of strategies for how Cornell’s academic programs can be either reorganized, merged, consolidated or eliminated as the University seeks to function more efficiently in what Fuchs called “an era of reduced resources.”

Reassignment of Ujamaa Director Causes Outcry: Controversy erupted when Ken Glover, residential housing director of Ujamaa Residential College, was abruptly reassigned to another position. The student response highlighted growing unrest surrounding the University’s review of program houses on campus. In October, the group Students for Ken Glover, staged a march in support of Glover at the Homecoming Parade in October. Later that month over 100 students and community members staged a silent protest outside of the quarterly trustee meeting to share their concern over suppression of minority voices on campus.

Cornell Hit by H1N1 Pandemic: Over 1,700 Cornell students were diagnosed with probable H1N1 influenza during the academic year, prompting a University-wide response to the global pandemic. Aside from Gannett’s efforts to contain the virus, Cornell’s athletics department eliminated the annual “camp out” for hockey tickets, and the Inter-Fraternity Council put a temporary moratorium on fraternity parties to limit person-to-person contact. Warren Schor’s ‘11 death on Sept. 11 — a result of complications relating to H1N1 — was the first H1N1 influenza-related fatality in Tompkins County.

University Looses 45,000 Social Security Numbers: In June, Cornell informed more than 45,000 current and former members of the University community that their sensitive personal information — including name and social security number — had been exposed when a University-owned laptop was stolen. As a result of the breach University provided protective services to those affected, including free credit reporting, credit monitoring and identity theft restoration services to those affected by the breach.

University and Ithaca Sound Off on Hydrofracking: Recent technological innovations including the development of new gas extraction capabilities like horizontal drilling and hydraulic-fracturing (“hydrofracking”) spawned recent interest in the Marcellus Shale. With the prospect of a large-scale gas drilling project in Ithaca, Cornellians and Ithacans alike voiced concern about such a project’s potential environmental and health impacts.

1.25.2010 Greek System Under Scrutiny: Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity had its University recognition suspended temporarily during rush week after a rush week event that sent three students to the hospital. Following a nearly three month review, the chapter was officially shut down. Kappa Sigma was also shut down for violating rules in its national charter and Alpha Delta Phi was put on probation after its hazing practices were leaked to a gossip website.

2.2.2010 C.U. Feels Effects of Budget Cuts: With the University strategic planning process continuing towards completion, the Department of Theatre Film and Dance was the first of the semester to feel the effects of the cuts when they were told to prepare for a cut of $2 million, about one third of its budget. The Russian department may also be discontinued next year, with the Russian major being redistributed to the comparative literature department.

4.20.10 Grad Student Convicted of Wife’s Murder: A court returned a guilty verdict on each of the three felony charges against former Cornell graduate student Blazej Kot. Kot was convicted of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing his wife Caroline Coffey, a post-doctoral student at Cornell’s Veterinary School, whose body was found on a wooded trail in Taughannock Falls State Park.

Original Author: Sun Staff