March 6, 2012

Skorton Receives Award From Higher Education Council

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The Association of Public and Land Grant Universities’ Council on Governmental Affairs awarded Skorton the Exemplary President in Governmental Relations Award on Thursday, citing his “sustained excellence” and “unparalleled passion, energy, sincerity and sense of purpose.”In response, Skorton said in a University press release that he was “deeply honored to receive this award on behalf of the Cornell community.”“I am pleased that the advocacy by APLU and other higher education associations to advance the National Endowment for the Humanities, student financial aid and other issues is being recognized,” Skorton said.The APLU is a research and advocacy organization consisting of public research universities, land-grant institutions and state universities. It has member campuses in all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, according to its website.The council’s award letter commended Skorton for his commitment to working with government officials to improve public higher education. It also honored Skorton for his support of the humanities, despite his background as a physician and a scientist.In his 2010 State of the University address, Skorton voiced his intent to bolster the humanities, which he said had been largely underfunded, nationally, over the last 16 years.“At no time in this nation’s history has it been more important to nurture, protect and put the ideas and provocations of the arts and humanities front and center,” the APLU’s letter stated, calling his advocacy on behalf of the National Endowment for the Humanities “an inspiration to the academic community and to the public.” The award also commended Skorton’s efforts in support of legislation for immigration reform. Skorton, who has voiced his support for the DREAM Act, pledged in November to look for sources of funding for undocumented students at Cornell.“I don’t have an answer, but I am committed to finding a way and I have contacts both inside and outside the University,” Skorton said to the S.A. in November. “There’s a lot of constraints, but we’re thinking very heavily about what can be done.”Skorton was also praised for his interactions with members of Congress and the executive branch and for advising them on many university-related issues. He has testified before Congress on controversial topics, including academic freedom and the place of civil disobedience on campus.The letter also extolled Skorton’s advocacy with members of Congress on issues of the affordability of an undergraduate education, an issue on which his commitment has received national attention.“Vigorous cost containment must be pursued by all colleges and universities,” Skorton wrote in a Feb. 6 editorial published in The Huffington Post. “As a higher education community, we have not made sufficient changes in how we operate our institutions that could reduce the price of college.”The letter also praised Skorton’s “frequent and effective” addressing of research issues –– including his insistence on ethics in research and the protection of human subjects –– before members of Congress.The letter concluded by emphasizing how Skorton’s work has aided in representing “the importance of public higher education to government and the public.”“[Your] towering intellectual integrity, moral courage, and unshakable respect for [others] … has brought great credit on yourself [and] your institutions,” the letter said.

Original Author: Utsav Rai