Courtesy of Cornell University

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick '09, President Martha E. Pollack and students have all contributed to the about 1,500 visits to the portal on the Arts Quad.

October 10, 2018

University President, Ithaca Mayor and Students Use Portal

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Since its installation in mid-August, the portal residing on the Arts Quad has been visited about 1,500 times. Visitors include Ithaca Mayor, Svante Myrick ’09 and, now, President Martha E. Pollack.

Myrick’s Sept. 27 visit, previously reported on by The Sun, focused on U.S. international relations during the Trump presidency with political consultant Luis Daniel Perez Vazquez.

Pollack followed up on Oct. 5 with Katherine McComas, vice provost for engagement and land-grant affairs, and Wendy Wolfrod, vice provost for international affairs. The three spoke with representatives from Code to Inspire, an organization in Herat, Afghanistan. The organization focuses its efforts on teaching girls to code, develop websites and make apps and has taught about 150 students since its opening.

Pollack studied computer science in school and when she was younger, she said that “there were almost no women in the field. She said a lot has changed since then.

“Here at Cornell, engineering is about 50 percent women, and in computer science about a third are women,” Pollack told the Cornell Chronicle, which is run by the University.

Students have also taken advantage of the portal. After Pollack’s conversation about coding, Samuel Opoku-Agyemang ’19 joined the conversation, according to the University.

“I’m actually organizing a coding boot camp for high school kids in Ghana,” he said. “My friend and I did it last winter break. We are going back this December, and we have two Cornell professors who want to go with us to teach coding to these kids, as well.”

As an assignment, every student in Biology and Society 2051: Ethical Issues in Health and Medicine had to have a conversation in the portal.

Prof. Kim Overby, science and technology studies, gave the assignment as a way for her students to conduct “research on the ways cultural perspectives influence how health care is delivered and received,” according to the University.

“The primary focus is to help students understand that having a relationship and good communication are so important in healthcare and in resolving ethical issues,” Overby told the University. “And realizing that it may be challenging to talk to someone who has a different perspective, but it’s important to understand how your own perspectives, your culture and your implicit biases can impact that relationship.”