Employee Assembly Evaluates Benefit Options

The Employee Assembly discussed the health and insurance benefits available to Cornell employees at a meeting Wednesday.   
These available benefits are communicated to employees through informative programs, according to Paul Bursic, senior director of benefit services. “We do have an extensive outreach in a number of different areas, particularly around retirement plans, to let people know what benefits are available to them,” Bursic said. Bursic added that Cornell offers a number of opportunities for employees to visit the benefits office throughout the year. “There are various seminars and one-on-one counseling,” Bursic said. “We are also working to improve our webpage presence.”
Gina Giambattista, director of the office of the assemblies, and Billy Kepner, vice chair of communications, communicated concerns about insurance available to employees struggling wth mental health illnesses.

Textbook Rentals to Bridge Economic Barriers

First-generation and economically challenged college students can now to borrow their textbooks free of charge from the Cornell Lending Library. Students from First in Class — a campus-wide initiative that supports first-generation college students — began planning the Lending Library last semester, according to Sarah Anderson, a  program coordinator in the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives. Nicholas Karavolias ’18 has been leading the program since its beginning, when he noticed students struggling to afford their textbooks, he said. “I realize that high textbook prices are a barrier to students with socioeconomic problems faced,” Karavolias said. “Some students will pick up extra hours of work, and some will not pick up their textbooks and fall behind academically.”
The idea behind the Lending Library has already been implemented in several other colleges, according to Anderson.

Professor Creates Harvesting Model Designed to Improve Nutritional Value

Miguel Gómez, associate professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, has assisted in the development of a new harvesting model to help food banks improve the nutritional value of the food they distribute to the hungry. Gómez and Dyson grad Xiaoli Fan collaborated with researchers from Boston College to address challenges faced by food banks, according to Gómez. “You have food wasted on one hand and malnutrition on the other,” Gómez said in a University press release. “The food banks can make this link, but there’s a logistical problem here. Our program contributes to a solution.”
The team has been working on improving the gleaning process for fruits and vegetables, according to Fan.

Students Begin Christian Journal, Cornell Claritas

Cornell Claritas — an academic journal exploring the Christian faith — released a first issue that will be distributed throughout campus next week, according to Esther Jiang ’16, the journal’s founder and editor-in-chief. Jiang and a group of students who are passionate about their Christian faith and eager to share it with others founded Cornell Claritas last year. The group wanted to develop discussion of their faith in a novel setting, according to Jiang. “When we created a team for Cornell Claritas, we were trying to find a new way to do it on campus,” Jiang said. “Fellowship groups have a good presence on campus but we also realize that we are in a very academic setting, so we wanted to bring the conversation to our studies, think critically about our faith and explore if the truth we find in the Gospel is the truth that is relevant to all areas of life.”
The journal’s purpose is to stimulate dialogue between Christians and non-Christians on critical issues in their life and faith, according to Ellie Schmucker ’19, the journal’s production manager.

Cornell Receives ‘StormReady’ Award

The National Weather Service officially recognized Cornell as a “StormReady” university Tuesday for its commitment to hazardous weather preparedness. StormReady is a program by the National Weather Service that helps better prepare community members and leaders for weather-related emergencies. To be recognized as StormReady, a university must maintain a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, be able to monitor local weather and flood conditions and conduct preparedness programs, among several other requirements. During the recognition ceremony, Katherine Hawley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service forecast office in Binghamton, New York, presented Cornell with its StormReady certificate. “This is a very important accomplishment for Cornell University,” Hawley said in a National Weather Service press release.

2016 Ithaca Budget Increases TCAT Funding

After a month of meetings, the Common Council approved the 2016 budget recommended by Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 on Nov. 4. During the final meeting to discuss the budget, several changes were made before it was approved, according to Alderperson Stephen Smith (D-4th Ward) and Alderperson Seph Murtagh M.A. ’04 Ph.D ’09 (D-2nd Ward). Some of the major changes included an adjustment to the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit budget as well as plans to increase the number of workers in a couple city departments. TCAT board members, Bill Gray and Frank Proto ’65, appeared before the Common Council and requested additional funding from the city, according to The Ithaca Journal.