Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Prof. Noliwe Rooks led a discussion about the impact of Cornell's expansion in New York City.

March 28, 2018

Forum Participants Propose Ideas to Link Cornell Campuses in Ithaca, New York City

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Community members proposed ideas of how to facilitate contact between Cornell’s Ithaca and New York campuses, including building an Amtrak station in Ithaca, in an open forum on Tuesday.

Prof. Noliwe Rooks, Africana studies and feminist, gender and sexuality studies, chair of the President’s Visioning Committee on Cornell in New York, led the discussion. She said a survey was given out to various colleges and schools in the University, which allowed “faculty, researchers, extension folks, student services and academic leadership” to give their input.

Rooks spoke of the existing presence of the University in New York with Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell Tech and other programs, such as involvement with various K-12 schools with the mindset to “expand what Cornell does and not just duplicate,” Rooks said.

The main issues mentioned by survey respondents concerning Cornell in New York were transportation and housing costs, according to the survey.

Rooks offered different solutions to the transportation problem, from cheaper bus fares to an Amtrak station in Ithaca.

“How hard would it be to get Amtrak to let us have a stop here?” Rooks asked.

Another key issue covered in the forum was how New York and Ithaca campuses would fit together.

Increased involvement in New York would facilitate collaborations across colleges — something that has been historically difficult to do — according to Rooks. She said a website could solve this issue.

“It’d be great if there were a website to help people find each other,” Rooks said.

However, Rooks said that “the goal is not to reproduce Ithaca in New York City,” stating that the purpose of greater presence would not be to simply have degree-granting programs in New York.

Rooks also spoke about the potential opportunities for undergraduate students in New York, focusing on internships and “connections to the industry and alumni.”

Rooks mentioned a biomedical engineer’s survey response that suggested Cornell in New York could “… make our program more relevant to the real world, make our research more competitive … and make the educational experience of our students and postdocs more rewarding.”

The forum tackled other unanswered questions, including how to use space in New York efficiently.

Prof. Diane Burton, industrial and labor relations, a committee member, spoke about a building opening on Lexington Avenue in January 2019 that has already been leased that could be used for classrooms, conference rooms or any number of other uses.

The Sun previously reported that both the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and Weill Cornell will use the building.

“There will be a central location in New York … right in midtown, central to a lot of different transportation lines,” Burton said.

Burton hopes that this visionary committee is the start for Cornell’s major presence in New York.

Cornell in New York “will be a full Cornell-owned operation in the city that we hope is going to be the beginnings of our serious presence in the city,” Burton said.