Cornell President Justifies Symbiotic Planning Strategy

As the University moves forward with the inevitable budget cuts, President David Skorton stands in a lonely position at the top. While task forces made up of faculty and staff work to suggest cuts from academic-related expenses, consultants from Bain & Co. will suggest cuts to non-academic expenses. Skorton must make sure that the two do not overlap during the process of the budget’s eventual alignment. The Sun sat down with Skorton yesterday afternoon to discuss some of the different facets of “Reimagining Cornell.”

The Sun: Why did the University choose Bain specifically, especially considering their dubious reputation in higher education?

C.U. Looks Within as Deficit Looms

With Cornell’s current budget deficit still totaling a grave $135 million, the University has been forced to seriously reconsider its future. Reimagining Cornell — an effort the University is touting as “one of the most comprehensive self-examinations in its 144-year history” — will, once complete, provide a strategic plan that top administrators hope will set the university on stable financial footing.

Inevitable Changes Lead to Skepticism

Neoma Mullens ’98, director of Cornell’s Internal Transfer Division, sighed as she pulled out a modest stack of confidential documents outlining possible reductions in her department of two people. She did not disclose the documents to The Sun.
“Honestly, I think there is still some waste [left in the University], but it’s hard to pinpoint without pointing fingers. Self-examination is important, but not everyone has the courage to do so.”
 Although faculty, students and alumni agree that “Reimagining Cornell” is a necessary project to assure the long-term health of the institution, the uncertain future of teaching, research and student life at Cornell is leading many to view the changes taking place around them with an air of skepticism.

Provost’s Office Reallocates Duties of Axed Positions

The Office of the Provost is the launch pad for all cuts, merging and scale backs associated with “Reimagining Cornell.” However, no facet of the University has been untouched by the financial crisis, and the office is scrambling just as much as academic departments to slim down its bloated administrative body.

Prof Salaries Not Cut in Recession

Faculty salaries at major universities across the nation remain unaffected despite widespread budget and general economic woes.
Salaries for professors across the country rose by 3.9 percent last year, well above the inflation rate, according to the American Association of University Professors. According to USA Today, Weill Cornell Medical College Prof. Zev Rosenwaks, obstetrics and gynecology, allegedly earned a paycheck of $3.1 million last year, the fifth highest salary at any U.S. college.
The median salaries at the endowed colleges during the 2008-2009 school year were $93,500 for assistant professors, $109,800 for associate professors and $154,300 for full professors, according to data from the AAUP.

ESL Writing Classes to Be Eliminated

This is the second article in a two-part series which focuses on Cornell’s decision to phase out language programs in an attempt to reduce the University’s budget.

The importance of writing skills, as exemplified by mandatory first-year writing seminars, has always been a constant emphasis at Cornell. However, English for Academic Purposes, which helps non-native speakers enhance their writing skills in the English language, will soon be eliminated due to the University’s across-the-board 5-percent budget cuts.

Students Question Phys. Sciences Library Closing

Although the announcement for the closing of Edna McConnell Clark Physical Sciences Library came over a month ago, the administration is still feeling reverberations of ill sentiment from affected students and academics. The full brunt of this bitterness came directly to a head in yesterday’s forum in Clark Hall, where Janet McCue, associate University librarian, headed a small cadre of librarians to field questions and address confusions regarding the closing.
“We don’t want to have your research suffer, and we really don’t want there to be obstacles to your work,” McCue said to the audience of about 25, mostly graduate students. “We also don’t want to diminish the collection support we’re giving you.”