Michaela Brew / Sun Staff Photographer

The U.A. expresses condolences for President Garrett and discusses the new Gannett Health Services building.

March 9, 2016

University Assembly Honors President Garrett, Discusses Plans for Gannett

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The University Assembly broke procedure to pass a symbolic resolution expressing condolences and appreciation for President Elizabeth Garrett at its Tuesday meeting. The assembly then turned to discussion of the construction of Gannett Health Service’s new facility.

U.A. Chair Matthew Battaglia ’16 began the meeting with a moment of silence honoring President Garrett and sponsored a resolution expressing the assembly’s willingness to assist the administration “in any way necessary” during the transition after Garrett’s death.

Although not enough members were present for a vote, Battaglia broke procedure and motioned for the U.A. to carry out a vote over email.

“This resolution is exceptionally self-explanatory, since President Garrett unfortunately and tragically passed away this past Sunday,” he said. “I wouldn’t [request an email vote] for true business, but to me this is symbolic and special. I don’t think anyone would have any objection whatsoever to doing so.”

The seven U.A. members present voted unanimously for the resolution, and Battaglia said he did not anticipate difficulties acquiring the final two votes that would pass the motion.

Janet Corson-Rikert, executive director of Gannett Health Services, and Kent Bullis, director of medical services, connected the tragic news about President Garrett to Gannett’s role in the Cornell community as it moves into its new facility in 2017.

“This week in particular, I think we’re all really aware of the devastating news of President Garrett’s death and just how fundamental health is for all of us,” Corson-Rikert said. “It really is essential for anybody’s participation in a meaningful life — certainly for students here to be fully engaged in their academic experiences but also for faculty and staff.”

Corson-Rikert stressed that Gannett does not “work in a vacuum” and said that its public health strategies focus on supporting faculty, staff and students.

The executive director of Gannett also mentioned the student health fee, which she said was was always meant to improve student access to healthcare, calling it “something we wanted to do for a long time.”

Corson-Rikert reminded students that the fee will soon be covered by financial aid, emphasizing how she believes this change will make Gannett’s health services more equitable.

“Starting in August, all undergraduates who receive need-based financial aid will have $350 of healthcare cost included in their cost of attendance calculations for financial aid packages,” Corson-Rikert said. “We’re pleased that our preliminary data this first year suggests an increase in utilization across all domains, and particularly students who do not have the school insurance and are low on income.”

Bullis also responded to a inquiries about what Gannett’s procedure should be when students abruptly stop using Gannett’s services or miss appointments.

“If a student has an appointment that they fail to show for, it is routine for whoever was scheduled to see them to review any information that’s available and make the choice of whether to reach out to that student specifically,” Bullis said. “If it’s someone who cancels an appointment, we don’t routinely track all of those patients. Patients cancel appointments for a wide variety of reasons and it would be very difficult to follow up on every single one.”

The U.A. also discussed a resolution requesting that the University formally determine the costs of reaching carbon neutrality by various dates, but was forced to table the resolution because there were not enough members present to vote.