As Cornell experienced everything from wars to student protests, The Sun has documented the most important moments in the University's history.

August 1, 2017

Cornell History Through the Eyes of The Sun

Print More

On April 27, 1865, the governor of New York State signed Cornell University’s charter, establishing the university that its founder, Ezra Cornell, would later describe as “an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”

While The Sun was not established until 15 years after the University, the publication has continuously followed the University and kept Cornellians informed for over 135 years.

On this page, we’ve laid out a few of The Sun’s front pages that showcase what many would call some of the defining moments of the University’s history.First Sun Issue (09-16-1880) Large‘Without any apology for our appearance’
The Sun’s inaugural issue was published on Sept. 16, 1880, 15 years after Cornell’s charter is signed and 18 years after the signing of the Morrill Land-Grant Act, which allowed states to establish a university with the purpose of benefiting the state.

Dec of War on Japan (12-08-41) Large

“Cornell’s Stand In Face of War to Be Revealed”
The day after the Pearl Harbor attacks on Dec. 7, 1941, the front page of The Sunfeatured various Associated Press wires regarding World War II and the attacks. Cornell President Edmund Ezra Day issued a statement the following day, telling Cornellians to stay “at their jobs” until more definitive information regarding the country’s role in the war was provided. Throughout the war, Cornell was greatly disrupted — men were called to enlist in1943, and The Sun became a weekly known as “The Cornell Bulletin.”

Residential Club Fire (04-06-67) Large

‘Precautions Lacking’
In April 1967, a fire at the Cornell Heights Residential Club — which is now the Ecology House on North Campus — killed eight Ph.D. students and a professor. The following day, The Sun published a story on its front page [left] about the lack of fire safety precautions in University residences. To this day, the cause of the fire is officially unknown, although following the event, Cornell invested in fire safety measures across campus.

Straight Takover (04-20-69) Large

Cornell’s capitulation
Forty-eight years ago, approximately 100 black students took over Willard Straight Hall and ejected Cornell employees and visiting family members from the building. The following day, April 20, 1969, students emerged from the Straight with rifles. Marking the end of a decade full of racial tensions, Cornell was divided. Tensions ultimately culminated with the resignation of its president and the future establishment of shared governance on campus.

All Frosh to North (10-09-97) Large

Rawlings’ seven-point plan
On Oct. 8, 1997, President Hunter R. Rawlings III announced his plan to move all freshmen housing to North Campus and all upperclassmen housing to West and in Collegetown. The following day, The Sun led with the headline “All Frosh to North.” Rawlings’ plan lead to the construction of Mews and Court-Kay-Bauer Halls, as well as the West Campus housing system.

C.U. Wins Tech Campus Bid (01-19-12)

The land grant university of the future
In December 2011, thenNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Cornell had won the city’s Applied Sciences competition, which granted the University the right to build a new technology campus on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan. Cornell is thought to have won the bid after Stanford University, Cornell’s rival throughout the competition, dropped out and billionaire Chuck Feeney ’56 donated $350 million to the University for the campus. The Sun reported on the announcement during Cornell’s winter break and published the news online, with the print version making its debut at the start of the spring semester. The campus is set to open this year, with a full buildout to be completed by 2037.