2035 Carbon Neutrality Goal Not A Priority for Cornell, Garrett Says

Although the Climate Action Plan report released by President Emeritus David J. Skorton last year stated that Cornell would achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, President Elizabeth Garrett said in an October interview with The Sun that she does not support this initiative. “For me, the more important thing is the research and creative work and education that goes on and not thinking about some arbitrary year date that we really haven’t studied with respect with how feasible it is for us to reach that,” Garrett said. The first version of the Climate Action Plan was released in September 2009, announcing a 2050 goal for campus carbon neutrality. However, Skorton moved the goal date to 2035 after a 2013 Faculty Senate resolution urged the University to accelerate its plans. Skorton pledged to transform Cornell into a carbon neutral campus by 2035 as a way of addressing climate change.

ILR Students Protest Labor Cartoon Exhibit

Student pushback to a number of political cartoons displayed in Ives Hall, and the alleged theft of one of the pieces, has prompted a discussion about freedom of speech and political discourse in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and around campus. Gary Huck and Mike Konopacki, two of the leading labor cartoonists in the country, were invited to the ILR Labor Roundtable, hosted by the school on Nov. 13. The event is held annually to show students ways they can become professionally involved in the labor rights and social justice movements, and consistently features guest artists. 

As in previous years, the artists’ work was installed in a temporary exhibit on the first floor of Ives Hall, but this year some of the pieces made students uncomfortable, leading some to request their removal, according to Prof. Kate Bronfenbrenner, industrial and labor relations. Students contacted student services to express their discomfort, particularly with two of the pieces: one featuring the GOP elephant with its trunk up a woman’s skirt and another with a swastika superimposed on the confederate flag, according to Bronfenbrenner.

President Garrett, VP Lombardi Address Concerns About Financial Aid, Tuition

The $350 health fee for students not enrolled in Cornell’s Student Health Plan will be included in eligible students’ financial aid packages for the next academic year, President Elizabeth Garrett said at Thursday’s Student Assembly meeting. “I am pleased to announce that for the next academic year and thereafter, we will include a $350 student healthcare allowance in the cost of attendance and in financial aid calculations,” Garrett said, attributing the success of the shift largely to student advocacy. Garrett and Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, responded to student concerns in an open-forum question and answer session. In her first semester on campus, Garrett said she discerned themes in the demands coming from the student body and described administrative efforts, including the addition of the health fee to student aid packages, to address those recurrent concerns. Shivang Tayal ’16, S.A. international representative at large, said there are a number of international issues that have yet to be resolved.

Cornell Tech Launches New M.Eng. Program

Applications have already started to roll in for a new master’s of engineering program in operations research and information engineering at Cornell Tech, set to open in fall 2016. The program is a collaborative effort that unites the extensive experience on the Ithaca campus in running an ORIE master’s program with the tech expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of Cornell Tech, according to Prof. Huseyin Topaloglu, operations research and information engineering. Unlike the Ithaca program, which has been offered for over 50 years, the new engineering program is designed specifically with the technology industry in mind, Topaloglu said. “We want to educate data scientists, quantitative analysts that thrive in environments where one needs to design algorithms and systems to make decisions on an ultra-large scale, while tackling the challenges posed by uncertainty,” he said. The program was first discussed when Cornell Tech opened in 2012 and implemented as soon as faculty members were hired, according to Topaloglu.

Cornell to Lead $5M Federal Cloud Computing Program

Cornell will lead a five-year, $5 million project sponsored by the National Science Foundation, to develop a federated-cloud system known as the Aristotle Cloud Federation, according to the Center for Advanced Computing. “The goal of Aristotle is to reduce the time to science for researchers,” said David Lifka, the director of the Center for Advanced Computing and one of the principal investigators for the Aristotle project. Cloud computing is a system of computing that allows users to store and process data in third-party, internet-based data centers, enabling them to access shared resources and information on demand. According to Lifka, Aristotle will make this technology even more robust. “Rather than wait for resource availability locally, researchers can get their work done faster by sharing resources across institutional boundaries,” Lifka said.

Phi Mu Fraternity Fails to Secure House in Cayuga Heights

The Cayuga Heights Planning Board unanimously rejected a request from Cornell’s chapter of the Phi Mu fraternity to purchase property to house their local chapter after significant opposition from community members. Prior to Monday night’s meeting, which was the third in relation to the issue, community members had drafted and circulated a petition to exclude the female fraternal organization from the residential neighborhood, claiming that a chapter house would be “inappropriate usage for the lot and the location” on Wyckoff Road. While Phi Mu has been in talks with the board since August, community members have only been involved for about a month, according to Ellen Zaslaw, a neighborhood resident. At the end of September, the board invited homeowners who live within 200 feet of the 520 Wyckoff Rd. property Phi Mu had planned to purchase to offer public comment on the fraternity’s request.

Garrett Emphasizes Student, Faculty Experience at Address

President Elizabeth Garrett spoke about her commitment to supporting faculty, the student experience at Cornell and cross-campus collaboration in her inaugural State of the University Address Friday morning to attendees of the 65th joint Trustee-Council Annual Meeting. The theme of the weekend-long meeting was “Global Cornell,” according to Board of Trustees Chair Robert S. Harrison ’76, who opened the program. Cornell is at the vanguard of addressing numerous global challenges, with both students and faculty “making a difference on a global scale,” he said. Garrett echoed a similar vision of Cornell’s presence and growth on the global stage. Speaking first about faculty, Garrett announced that the University had raised $638 million for faculty support, including $59 million for faculty renewal, and announced a goal of hiring 80 to 100 new faculty members “and perhaps more in the coming years.”
“Our commitment to great faculty spans the disciplines,” Garrett said, referencing construction projects such as Klarman Hall that will benefit the humanities departments, as well as new grants for science, technology, engineering and mathematics research such as a recent grant of nearly $5 million awarded to The Center for Advanced Computing.

Myrick ’09 Presents 2016 City Budget to Common Council

Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 presented his 2016 city budget recommendation to the Common Council on Oct. 1, describing it as likely “the most boring of his administration,” The Ithaca Journal reported earlier this month. “It means we’re finally reaching stability,” he said, affirming that initiatives to spur the economy since the recession have generated increased revenue for the city, according to The Journal. Although the budget will remain largely the same, the mayor’s proposal contains a number of changes to advance his financial goals for 2016, which include reducing the tax burden on city taxpayers and continuing to move operating expenses from borrowed capital. In order to achieve these goals, there will not be an increase in the tax rate, which will remain at a rate of $12.89 per $1,000 assessed value.

Garrett: University Endowment Bill ‘Misconceived’

President Elizabeth Garrett called a bill proposed in Congress in September that would require schools to use a part of their endowments for financial aid “misconceived,” Bloomberg Businessweek reported. The bill, which is set to be filed this month, would require institutions of higher education with endowments larger than $1 billion to distribute some of that money in the form of need-based scholarships in order to maintain their tax-free status, according to the Bloomberg article. Representative Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), who serves the 23rd district — which includes Ithaca — drafted the bill in order to “make college education more affordable for middle class families,” according to an article in The Lansing Star, written by the congressman’s office. “I care about ensuring [that] anyone with the desire to educate themselves can receive a fair chance at making that happen without being prevented because of the cost,” Reed said in the article. Although those who support the legislation have “their hearts in the right place … their methods won’t succeed for the goals they have in mind,” Garrett said during her interview with Bloomberg.