President Martha E. Pollack delivered the annual address to the staff on Thursday, addressing concerns regarding limited parking options and mental health services for staff and outlining the the University’s key priorities going forward.
From improving cooking skills to learning how to knit, about 200 Cornell staff in the Johnson Graduate School of Management participated in a series of wellness workshops over the break to practice self-care.
President Elizabeth Garrett addressed Cornell staff for the first time Friday afternoon, highlighting the importance of diversity and streamlining efforts to reduce staff members’ work burdens. Hosted by the Employee Assembly, Garrett’s address emphasized the importance of a cohesive body of staff and a multi-tiered effort to reduce unnecessary paperwork and burdensome processes. She began by thanking staff in the audience, saying, “You are not thanked often enough.”
“Your efforts support excellence in Cornell’s research, teaching and outreach, and you create an environment where faculty, students and staff together thrive,” Garrett said. Garrett emphasized the importance of staff roles across Cornell’s campus in realizing the University’s academic mission. “Whether we care for the campus grounds or maintain advanced research equipment, counsel students or manage payroll or process travel reimbursements, motivate donors or carry out the myriad of other ways and functions in which a research university operates, we are all engaged in the academic mission and the academic enterprise,” Garrett said.
Yesterday at noon, about three dozen Cornell workers and students gathered in front of Day Hall carrying signs that read “Cornell workers deserve a fair contract” and cheered as passing buses and cars honked in agreement.
“What do we want? Fair contract! When do we want it? Now!” yelled participants in the rally. “When working families are under attack what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
The University announced on Friday that it accepted all 423 Cornell employees who applied to participate in the optional Staff Retirement Incentive Program.
The SRI, which has originally publicized in February, aimed to reduce the size of the University’s workforce. Personnel costs for the University’s more than 10,000 employees comprise 60 percent of Cornell’s operating budget, according to Vice President for Human Resources Mary Opperman.
The University currently faces a shortfall of approximately $230 million in its operating budget.
Opperman said that the University will save money by eliminating “a majority” of the positions vacated by the 423 employees.
The College of Human Ecology had no inclination as to any future benefits when it was given three days notice that it had to abandon the old north wing of Martha Van Rensselaer Hall eight years ago. In 2001, the college effectively lost 30 percent of its space that it used for academic, research and outreach programs when the north wing of MVR was determined to have structural deficiencies, according to John Lamson, assistant dean of communications for Human Ecology.