Cornell Tech, Law School Launch New Degree Program

A rendering shows the planned Cornell Tech campus, currently under construction on Roosevelt Island. (Courtesy of Cornell University)
Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School announced the creation of a new Master of Laws degree program on Tuesday, which will give current attorneys and graduates the skills to “support and lead technology companies in the digital economy,” according to the University. The one-year LLM degree in law, technology and entrepreneurship is full-time and will be offered at Cornell Tech in New York City, according to a University press release. Officials say they expect students to begin enrolling in 2016. Classes will be taught at Cornell Tech’s temporary home in Chelsea until mid-2017, when the school moves to Roosevelt Island.

NASA Scientist Mary Beth Wilhelm ’12 Aids Discovery of Water on Mars

At the age of 25, not many people can say they are on track to receive a doctorate degree within a year. Fewer can say they are concurrently employed at NASA. And fewer still can say they discovered the evidence of water on Mars. Mary Beth Wilhelm ’12 is a Ph.D. candidate in Geological and Planetary Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology and a planetary scientist working for NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. In April, she and fellow scientists affiliated with NASA Ames published a paper of their discovery of hydrated salts on Mars, signifying the presence of contemporary water activity on the surface.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia to Perform at Cornell Next Month

Comedian, writer and actor Mike Birbiglia will come to Cornell on Nov. 18 for a night of stand-up comedy, the Cornell University Program Board announced Tuesday. The 37-year-old Birbiglia, born in Massachusetts, has appeared in the comedy blockbuster Trainwreck and the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, according to CUPB. He also directed, wrote and starred in the independent comedy film Sleepwalk With Me, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Birbiglia’s other appearances in television and film include The Fault in Our Stars, Annie and the HBO series Girls.

Endowment Return Rate for Fiscal Year ’15 Plummets

Cornell announced Thursday that its endowment climbed to a record high of $6.3 billion during the 2015 fiscal year, up from $6.2 billion at the end of the last fiscal year. Despite the record-breaking endowment figure, the University earned a return rate of 3.4 percent on its endowment this fiscal year — a sharp decrease of 12.4 percent from fiscal year 2014, when Cornell earned a return of 15.8 percent. Cornell came in with the lowest return rate for the 2015 fiscal year compared to its Ivy League peers, excluding Columbia University, which has yet to report its returns. Peer institutions that hit return rates in the double digits include Princeton University and Yale University, with 12.7 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively. Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania trail behind with reported returns of 8.3 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

Weill Cornell Medical College Rebrands

Weill Cornell Medical College announced Tuesday a new name and brand — Weill Cornell Medicine — which will “more comprehensively capture the full scope” of the institution’s mission. The new name will bring together the three main principles of the institution — “to care, discover and teach” — under one umbrella, according to Sarah Smith, director of media relations for WCM. The announcement of the new name is the “culmination of a strategic expansion” that has affected all of WCM’s programs, including the medical college, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and Weill Cornell Physician Organization, according to the University. Examples of such strategic growth include the 2007 opening of the ambulatory care center called Weill Greenberg Center, the addition of more than 40 medical practices throughout New York City’s boroughs in the past three years and the opening of the Belfer Research Building in 2014, according to a press release. Dr. Laurie Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine, said in the release that the new name fully captures the patient-centric mission of the institution.

Cornell University Sustainable Design Embarks on Housing Project

A small city situated over 90 miles northeast of Ithaca, Little Falls is the epicenter of a new sustainable housing project taken on by Cornell University Sustainable Design this semester. With a site of over 100 acres, the Overlook Ridge Development Project seeks to construct a campus to host sustainable rental homes and private estates. Led by Zachary Cesaro ’16 and Project Chairman David Casullo — president of Bates Communications — the project groups 18 students from across the University and aims to begin construction in Little Falls early next year. Adding to the 17 existing buildings on the Overlook Ridge campus, the team plans to implement a solar array field to power the community in an environmentally friendly way, revitalizing the community and prompting development in the region. “The plan for the site is …

Study Finds Bias in Social Psychology Community

Prof. Stephen J. Ceci and Prof. Wendy M. Williams, human development, have responded to a paper in the most recent edition of Brain and Behavioral Sciences that suggests the ideological makeup of social psychologists has gone too far left. The paper — written by a team of five liberal-identified social psychologists including José L. Duarte, Arizona State University, psychology — reports that the proportion of self-described liberals to conservatives in psychology is currently around 12 to 1, up from the 4 to 1 ratio preceding the 1990s. The authors posit three manners in which this polarity may mar social psychology: the dispersion of faulty and demeaning views towards conservative individuals, the refusal to study topics that may run in the face of liberal ideologies of social progress and the implanting of ideology into theory. Ceci says he has encountered these roadblocks firsthand. “For quite some time there has been a censorious mood in the social science community,” Ceci said.

McKain Named Associate V.P. for University Communications

John McKain, assistant dean of communications for the College of Human Ecology, will become the next associate vice president for university communications, the University announced Thursday. McKain, who will assume the position Oct. 19, succeeds Tracy Vosburgh, who departed Cornell last month to serve as the senior associate vice president for university relations at Virginia Tech. McKain began working at Cornell in 2006 for Alumni Affairs and Development and transitioned to his role in the College of Human Ecology in 2011, according to a University press release. His experience in the fields of marketing communications and media relations spans over two decades.

Student Groups Cross Party Lines to Encourage Voter Registration

Students from several clubs are coming together to encourage their peers to participate in the 2016 elections by setting up voter registration tables in Ho Plaza, Mann Library and Willard Straight Hall. The students manning the tables, representing organizations like the Andrew Goodman Foundation, Big Red for Bernie, Black Students United, Cornell Democrats and Watermargin Cooperative, say they have already registered more than 500 Cornellians. They plan to continue their efforts until Oct. 9 — the New York state deadline to register to vote in a primary. Catherine Wang ’15 described the movement to promote civic engagement as a non-partisan effort which has its roots in larger Ithaca community projects.

Olin Bans Stone Throwing on Musical Steps

Cornellians walking along the musical terrace on the roof of Olin Library will now see a sign: “stone throwing is prohibited.”

The ban on throwing rocks on Olin Library’s musical steps was instituted this academic year in response to complaints from staff members that stones frequently hit the windows of the surrounding buildings, according to Ezra Delaney, associate University librarian of administrative services. Furthermore, Delaney said student stone-throwers shattered a 10 foot by seven foot glass window of the second floor of Olin Library on July 3 over the summer. There were no injuries reported from the incident. Delaney added that the accumulation of stones could constitute a danger in case of fire. “The University Fire Marshall has informed us that Olin terrace is a fire exit from the building and the accumulation of stones on the surface make walking this path dangerous,” he said.