LETTER TO THE EDITOR: RE: ‘Welcome to Cornell, Inc.’

To the Editor:

The article “Welcome to Cornell, Inc.” by John Monkovic ‘24 raises many interesting ideas — some valid and others misinformed.  

He is correct that “shared governance” has become “nothing more than a buzzword.” For most of Cornell’s history, the faculty ran the show with very few staff in the central administration. The Trustees delegated power to the President, the faculty and a few specialized boards. In the turmoil of the 1960s, this changed. The Trustees delegated policy and budgetary control over what is now called Student and Campus Life to the University Senate, and the Senate also controlled the campus judicial system. Gradually, the Trustees and central administration clawed back power, until August 2021, when the last area of authority, the judicial system, was removed and given to Day Hall.

GUEST ROOM | Welcome to Cornell Inc. 

Ever since my freshman year, now a distant three years ago, I’ve been trying to crack this place. Some goofy kid two doors down the hall and I would stay up until 4 a.m. pondering meaningless questions like “What is the Cornell ethos, really?” We still do, now in the mundane daylight of a cramped apartment, the magic sucked out of the air ever since we settled on the answers but found ourselves no less trapped by them. If you ask me, you can’t even begin to understand this place until you acknowledge that Cornell University is functionally a corporation. It’s an embarrassingly obvious observation to make — the kind that warrants a slap in the face from any local resident whose years living here renders it common sense.

KEMPFF | Invest in Ithaca

My life flashed before my eyes when I saw the 10-foot-tall, paper-mache capitalist. Last March, climate protesters held up the roads throughout Central Campus to campaign Cornell’s divestment from fossil fuels. I have to hand it to them; anyone who is willing to stand outside in Ithaca in March must be really committed. In just a few short months, word came from the bureaucrats in Day Hall (or wherever they work): Cornell’s seven billion dollar endowment would be effectively divesting from fossil fuels. This was not only a win for climate activists, but for anyone who cares about socially responsible investing.

GUEST ROOM | Our Students Are Paying for a ‘Fat and Happy’ Budget

In response to The Sun’s Oct. 29 article, “Cornell Bleeds Red Ink in Latest Financial Report with Operating Losses of $104 Million,” as an alum, parent and long-time volunteer for the University I was not surprised by the bad news. While student tuition and alumni contributions continue to rise, once again University expenses outpaced revenues. In the world of finance, most businesses and not-for-profits lose money by either not generating enough revenue or they pile on too much administrative overhead. Many iconic brands like Eastman Kodak, Lehman Brothers and Enron filed for bankruptcy or closed because executives rewarded themselves with fat salaries and happily ran to the bank while taking their eye off the true meaning of their business.