Throughout the course of the Homecoming and Inauguration weekend, President Elizabeth Garrett repeatedly reaffirmed her stances on the future of Cornell. While she continued to outline her focus on faculty and academia, areas that she has brought up as prioritizing since arriving at Cornell, Garrett also unveiled her stances on a number of other issues facing Cornell and the rest of higher education moving forward. We believe the points made by the newly-inaugurated president this weekend represent a bold vision for the future of Cornell and are optimistic about what her presidency will do for the University.
Garrett, who provided small hints as to what her priorities are for both the coming year and the future of the University up until this weekend, began to outline her platform Thursday evening during her inaugural dinner. She stressed that Cornell “stands in a crucial point in its history of higher education,” and that seizing the moment is imperative. Garrett’s remarks following this, while brief and unspecific, set the tone for the remainder of her public appearances this weekend, which were consistently upbeat and optimistic about the future of Cornell and higher education.
Most notably, during her inaugural address Friday, Garrett stood by the merit of higher education, arguing that “it is beyond dispute that an intense residential undergraduate experience at one of America’s research universities is one of the best investments any family can make.” As president, her stance on the future of higher education comes as no surprise; her support of the university experience and her job are intertwined. Still, her strong attitude toward the need to innovate and be radical ring true with the traditions set in place by Cornell’s founders. While she gave a glimpse into what being a more progressive university might look like, we are confident that her demeanor towards the criticism and issues facing higher education will be well-addressed.
Garrett also promised an increased focus on Cornell’s duality between Ithaca and New York City. As Cornell continues to expand its presence downstate within the traditional colleges and Cornell Tech, its new graduate campus, setting the tone for how the two campuses will interact will be imperative. Although the previous administration alluded to the collaborations that would take place between Cornell’s two hubs, Garrett specifically outlined her priorities in regard to Cornell Tech and New York City. First, she challenged each of the existing colleges to develop ways to collaborate with the tech campus. She also urged faculty to work to find solutions to common problems in the 21st century and to bring teaching skills developed in New York City to the Ithaca campus. By specifically outlining the relationship between Cornell’s campus at home and in New York, President Garrett provided insight as to what roles its New York City campuses will have in Cornell’s future.
Throughout the weekend, President Garrett offered strong support for higher education in the 21st century and highlighted what she believed Cornell’s role in the world should be. Her vision for Cornell will likely continue to evolve and expand as her presidency does, but what she has presented so far is a bold vision for this university.