The moral case for Cornell divesting from fossil fuels has long been clear. Simply put, the University should not hold equity in resource extraction firms that have sent the planet hurtling toward climate ruin. An overwhelming body of science tells us the fallout of human-caused climate change will come in the form of severe developing-world food insecurity, more frequent extreme weather events and worse economic growth. Projections indicate death, disease, dislocation and malnutrition will sharply rise, especially for the global poor. The cost in human misery will be enormous.
Physicians at Weill Cornell Medicine and University administrators earn the highest paychecks out of all Cornell employees, while professors teaching on the Ithaca campus have a much lower average salary.
Economics and climate awareness have always been heralded as enemies in the media, with “right-wing, power-hungry” economists battling with “left-wing, hippie” environmentalists. But what if there was a way for them to join forces to achieve a common goal? On Oct. 4, the Senior Leaders Climate Action Group released a report outlining different pathways to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, furthering its commitment to the Climate Action Plan released in 2009. Members of SLCAG presented the report before the Student Assembly yesterday, and will take questions from the entire community at a forum on Oct.
Addressing Cornell’s approximately $230 million deficit, President David Skorton summarized the University’s current financial situation and answered pointed questions from an audience of at least 200 this afternoon in an open forum aimed for faculty and staff in Statler Auditorium.
Most of the questions raised were centered on the subject of workforce reduction. Skorton said several times during the question-and-answer session that there would be more layoffs in the future.
On Saturday, the Board of Trustees approved cuts to the University’s operating budget, increased the cost of tuition for the next academic year and further extended an external hiring pause and construction pause that were first implemented last October. The move comes as the University reels from a 27-percent decline in its endowment, drastic cuts in state funding and a decrease in philanthropic contributions.
While Cornell was able to largely avoid the Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme that cost other universities millions of dollars in losses, Cornell’s finances were not invulnerable to the economic meltdown that has gripped the country. According to The Cornell Alumni Magazine, Cornell’s endowment, which was valued at $6.1 billion on June 30, 2008, fell 27 percent during the second half of 2008.
Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Stephen Golding in an interview on CNBC, considered the current economic status “the perfect financial storm.” He explained the complexities and the uniqueness of the current situation by adding, “This is a much broader problem with many more components at one time than what many of us have historically seen.”