Skorton and Fuchs Introduce Reimagining C.U. to Community

President David Skorton made his public case for the University’s strategic plan to streamline University operations Friday as faculty, students and staff packed into Biotech G10. Showing up on time did not guarantee audience members a seat, as many were willing to stand for the duration of the public forum at which Skorton and Provost Kent Fuchs discussed the “Reimagining Cornell” initiative and its implications for the future of the University.

Report of the Ad Hoc Committee for Academic Planning: College of Arts and Sciences

Draft Report From Ad Hoc Committee for Academic Planning

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?

Cornell Hires Outsiders to Ease Budget Woes

As part of its campus-wide campaign to drastically cut costs, Cornell has hired global consulting firm Bain & Company to examine the University’s non-academic infrastructure and spending.
The administration believes that despite the large price tag associated with such prominent consultants, the University will reap the benefits of an outside perspective for years to come.
Although administrators have pledged for a transparent strategic planning process, the University is not disclosing the details of its arrangement with Bain, and has yet to announce a decision about releasing Reimagining Cornell reports.

Selecting a Consulting Firm

Arts College Task Force Suggests Extensive Cuts

Downsizing the College of Arts and Sciences over the next few months will no doubt be a tough task, especially considering that the academic unit already endured a 6-percent cut to its operating budget this spring. With challenges fully laid out, the task force charged with proposing ways to streamline the college as part of the recently announced “Reimagining Cornell” is considering ideas that could lead to merging departments, abandoning some areas of study and further decreasing the number of faculty. Master planning initiatives faced that challenge head on by thinking of ways to envision the college with a 15-percent smaller budget.

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.