September 2, 2014

Skorton Delivers Final Welcome Address

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In a welcome message to the University, President David Skorton said Cornellians should reflect on recent national events and honor the school’s heritage in light of the this year’s sesquicentennial celebration.

Skorton encouraged Cornellians to attend various special events commemorating the University’s sesquicentennial, which occurs on April 27. These events will occur in various places around the world to reflect Cornell’s diverse presence in various communities, according to Skorton.

The celebration will begin Sept. 13 in New York City — the home of many Cornell alumni — with a “fascinating” musical performance at the Jazz at Lincoln Center, Skorton said.

He added that Cornellians can further celebrate the school’s history during Charter Weekend, which will take place from April 24 to 27.

“The weekend, which commemorates the signing of the charter that created Cornell, will include panel discussions, literary readings, musical performances, and films,” Skorton said in his message.

Alumni and students can bring the sesquicentennial celebration to Ithaca during October’s homecoming weekend — which features a football game against a rival college as well as a several events to promote campus spirit — Skorton said.

Skorton also discussed his vision for the future of the University. In March, he announced that he will leave the University June 2015 to take a position as the secretary of the Smithsonian.

He said Cornell will attempt to address various “issues” over the school year, including accelerating the University’s plan to become carbon neutral, increasing the faculty diversity and developing research initiatives in its tech campus on Roosevelt Island — which is scheduled to open in 2017.

“As we move forward, I am confident that Cornell will remain true to our founding principles and extend our impact as a world-class university with an egalitarian soul,” Skorton said.

However, Skorton did not limit his message to subjects that directly affect the University. He also spoke about political events that have recently impacted the entire nation, domestically and nationally.

“The continuing tensions in the Middle East … remind us all of the importance of recognizing the value of each person’s opinion and perspective,” Skorton said. “In the wake of events in Ferguson, [Missouri], we all need to reflect on our attitudes regarding race.”

He also addressed sexual assault, which has recently become a major concern at campuses across the country — including Cornell — in light of Obama’s decision in April to create a task force against collegiate sexual violence.

“Sexual assault and violence on college campuses is gaining new and appropriate visibility in Washington, and, thanks to the efforts of many individuals and groups, we are accelerating our efforts to address it at Cornell,” he said.

Skorton emphasized that his message was not directed solely towards Cornell students, but to anyone who has a tie to the University.

“Whether you’re a student, faculty or staff member in Ithaca, New York City or elsewhere, I hope that you had a good summer,” Skorton said.