Ming DeMers/Sun Staff Photographer

President Pollack speaks at the President's Address to Staff at the BioTechnology Building on Feb. 6.

February 7, 2023

Pres. Martha Pollack Praises University Achievements, Staff in Annual Address

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University President Martha Pollack delivered her annual address to staff on Monday afternoon, highlighting Cornell’s recent accomplishments and expressing gratitude towards staff. The meeting was well-attended by Cornell staff and faculty, both in person and over Zoom.

Pollack began by reiterating an announcement she made at last week’s Employee Assembly meeting — that the University will provide in-year bonuses to all full and part-time staff members with salaries up to $100,000. The bonuses, issued in response to higher living expenses due to inflation, will be distributed on a sliding scale based on income. Crowd members were excited to hear of this program, applauding exuberantly.

After her announcement, Pollack covered Cornell’s achievements in the last year. She noted Cornell’s development at the college level, celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy and the two-year anniversary of the Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.

In addition to Cornell’s on-campus growth, Pollack also recognized the University’s expansion in New York City, citing Cornell Tech, the Cardiovascular AI Institute and the Multicollege Department of Design Tech as Cornell’s budding programs in the city.

Pollack also boasted the University’s increased research budget of $1.3 billion, which has provided researchers with greater opportunities to conduct path-breaking research. Pollack mentioned three of many Cornell professors — Prof. Geoffrey Coates, chemistry and chemical biology, Prof. Antonio Fernandez-Ruiz, neurobiology and behavior and Prof. Liliana Colanzi, romance studies — whose research earned awards in their respective fields this past year.

Pollack attributed Cornell’s development to its staff and faculty members’ efforts.

“Whatever your role is at Cornell, each of you has played a really important part in the success of our academic enterprise, and I truly appreciate all of your contributions,” Pollack said.

Pollack then discussed her aspirations for Cornell, many of which centered on redefining the University in modern contexts.

“Now, what we need to do in the 21st century is to reimagine and continue to rebuild our university over and over and over to meet the demands of a world that are again facing seismic changes — a world that is more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous than ever before,” Pollack said.

As part of this goal, Pollack announced that the ‘To Do the Greatest Good’ Campaign has continued to make progress in making Cornell more affordable for undergraduate students.

“I am thrilled that we’ve made very significant progress on our goals of raising funds that will enable us to do three things — increase the number of students on financial aid by 1,000, decrease student loans on average by 25 percent and ensure that every student has the opportunity to spend at least one summer without the expectation of contributing to their tuition bill,” Pollack said.

Pollack mentioned that this program echoes Cornell’s founding mission of “… any person … any study,” a sentiment that can be found at the heart of institutions across the United States. Pollack explained that the University was founded as a model for higher education, and she hopes Cornell can carry on this tradition.

“Personally, I see Cornell as uniquely well-placed to be the model of the modern research university,” Pollack said. “with a drive for innovation and a foundational commitment to diversity inclusion, with world-class faculty who work at and across the boundaries of their field, with exceptional students who will become capable citizens and problem-solving leaders… and with a talented and dedicated staff who support the work across everything that we do.”

Throughout her speech, Pollack emphasized the important role that staff have played in facilitating the University’s success, particularly in providing a supportive environment for students.

“Cornell education changes the lives of our students forever, thanks to the Cornell staff who are tireless in their commitment to providing all of our students at every level with what they need to thrive at Cornell,” Pollack said.