Interim President Hunter Rawlings addressed the President’s Council of Cornell Women at a symposium on Friday night, providing an update on the changes in motion at Cornell and what to expect in the near future as he completes his term as interim president.
This year’s symposium focused on Cornell’s food research and efforts toward sustainable food production and agriculture. The speakers also addressed more global issues of nutrition and hunger as well as Cornell’s innovations in resolving these issues.
Jeannette Pérez-Rosselló, chair of the PCCW, explained that the PCCW reports directly to President Rawlings, and the president speaks to the group annually — a tradition that began decades ago.
“The PCCW started 27 years ago under President [Frank] Rhodes,” Pérez-Rosselló said. “It was his idea, mainly to have a group of women that could be role models and mentors for students. From there it kept evolving, towards fundraising and grants for student organizations.”
In his address, Rawlings said he is excited to welcome Martha Pollack, provost of University of Michigan, as the 14th president of the University in April.
Rawlings spoke about the new business school at Cornell, which he called a unique opportunity for hotel, Johnson and Dyson students.
He said he is excited to welcome Lynn Perry Wooten as the new dean of Dyson School. Wooten is also coming to Cornell from the University of Michigan, where she is currently the senior associate dean for academic and student excellence.
Rawlings additionally thanked Chuck Feeney ’56, the previously anonymous donor who gave the University $350 million to build Cornell Tech.
“He has earned, in his life, 8 billion dollars,” Rawlings said. “And he has given away 8 billion dollars.”
Rawlings’ time as president, he said, has shown just how unique the Cornell community is, particularly how engaged students are in both their academics and their social community.
“They get here, they work their heads off,” Rawlings said of students. “They double, triple major, join every group in the world, they have fun. And there are very few schools in the world that can really say that.”
Linking alumnae to the current Cornell community is of key interest to the PCCW, and its symposium is an enriching means of accomplishing that goal by providing an opportunity for members to meet fellow alumnae, learn about current university programs, and revisit their alma mater.
“We are building this connectivity across generations,” said PCCW member Heidi Grenek ’92. “This symposium is a great way to both reconnect and reenergize ourselves in our commitment to service for Cornell. Women here are from all walks of life and different stages of their career, and have an opportunity for cross-generational sharing.”
“Women need a space with other women, to learn from them, network and find a support system,” Pérez-Rosselló added. “It is also important for students to know that their alumnae are here and behind them. We want to help them in any way.”