View of McGraw Tower with Uris Library and Boardman Hall
The university is broadly organized into seven undergraduate
colleges and seven graduate
divisions at its main Ithaca campus, with each college and division defining its specific admission standards and academic programs in near autonomy. The university also administers two satellite medical campuses, one in New York City
and one in Education City
Cornell is one of the few private land grant universities
in the United States.[note 1]
Of its seven undergraduate colleges, three are state-supported statutory or contract colleges
through the State University of New York
(SUNY) system, including its agricultural and human ecology colleges as well as its industrial labor relations school. Of Cornell's graduate schools, only the veterinary college is state-supported. As a land grant college, Cornell operates a cooperative extension
outreach program in every county of New York and receives annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions.
The Cornell University Ithaca Campus comprises 745 acres, but is much larger when the Cornell Botanic Gardens
(more than 4,300 acres) and the numerous university-owned lands in New York City are considered.
Alumni and affiliates of Cornell have reached many notable and influential positions in politics, media, and science. As of April 2021, 61 Nobel laureates
, four Turing Award winners
and one Fields Medalist
have been affiliated with Cornell. Cornell counts more than 250,000 living alumni
, and its former and present faculty and alumni include 34 Marshall Scholars
33 Rhodes Scholars
, 29 Truman Scholars
, 7 Gates Scholars
, 55 Olympic Medalists
, 10 current Fortune 500 CEOs, and 35 billionaire alumni.
Since its founding, Cornell has been a co-educational
institution where admission has not been restricted by religion or race. The student body consists of more than 15,000 undergraduate and 9,000 graduate students from all 50 American states and 119 countries.
Cornell University was founded on April 27, 1865; the New York State (NYS) Senate
authorized the university as the state's land grant
institution. Senator Ezra Cornell
offered his farm in Ithaca, New York
, as a site and $500,000 of his personal fortune as an initial endowment
. Fellow senator and educator Andrew Dickson White
agreed to be the first president. During the next three years, White oversaw the construction of the first two buildings and traveled to attract students and faculty
The university was inaugurated on October 7, 1868, and 412 men were enrolled the next day.
Cornell developed as a technologically innovative institution, applying its research to its own campus and to outreach efforts. For example, in 1883 it was one of the first university campuses to use electricity from a water-powered dynamo
to light the grounds.
Since 1894, Cornell has included colleges that are state funded and fulfill statutory requirements;
it has also administered research and extension activities that have been jointly funded by state and federal matching programs.
Cornell has had active alumni since its earliest classes. It was one of the first universities to include alumni-elected representatives on its Board of Trustees.[note 2]
Cornell was also among the Ivies that had heightened student activism during the 1960s related to cultural issues, civil rights, and opposition to the Vietnam War; with protests and occupations resulting in the resignation of Cornell's president and the restructuring of university governance.
Today the university has more than 4,000 courses.
Cornell is also known for the Residential Club Fire of 1967
, a fire in the Residential Club building that killed eight students and one professor.
The Arts Quad on Cornell's main campus with McGraw Tower
in the background
hosts religious services and concerts, and is the final resting place of the university's founder
Cornell's main campus is on East Hill in Ithaca, New York
, overlooking the city and Cayuga Lake
. Since the university was founded, it has expanded to about 2,300 acres (9.3 km2
), encompassing both the hill and much of the surrounding areas.
Central Campus has laboratories, administrative buildings, and almost all of the campus' academic buildings, athletic facilities, auditoriums, and museums. North Campus is composed of ten residence halls
that primarily house first-year students, although the Townhouse Community occasionally houses transfer students. The five main residence halls on West Campus make up the West Campus House System, along with several Gothic-style
buildings, referred to as "the Gothics".Collegetown
contains two upper-level residence halls
and the Schwartz Performing Arts
Center amid a mixed-use neighborhood of apartments, eateries, and businesses.
Construction has also begun on two new residential buildings that will be situated on North Campus, providing beds for an estimated 800 students, to be completed by fall 2021.
The main campus is marked by an irregular layout and eclectic architectural styles
, including ornate Collegiate Gothic
, and Neoclassical
buildings, and the more spare international
structures. The more ornate buildings generally predate World War II
. The student population doubled from 7,000 in 1950 to 15,000 by 1970, at a time when architectural styles favored modernism.
While some buildings are neatly arranged into quadrangles
, others are packed densely and haphazardly. These eccentricities arose from the university's numerous, ever-changing master plans for the campus. For example, in one of the earliest plans, Frederick Law Olmsted
, the designer of Central Park
, proposed a "grand terrace" overlooking Cayuga Lake
Several of the university buildings are listed as historic landmarks.
Those listed on the National Register of Historic Places
include the Andrew Dickson White House
, Bailey Hall
, Caldwell Hall
, the Computing and Communications Center
(formerly Comstock Hall
), Morrill Hall
, Rice Hall
, Fernow Hall
, Wing Hall
, and 13 South Avenue (Deke House)
At least three other historic buildings—the original Roberts Hall
, East Robert Hall
and Stone Hall
—have also been listed on the NRHP. The university demolished them in the 1980s to make way for other development.
In September 2011, Travel+Leisure
listed the Ithaca Campus as among the most beautiful in the United States.
Located among the rolling valleys of the Finger Lakes
region, the campus on a hill provides views of the surrounding area, including 38 miles (61.4 km) long Cayuga Lake
. Two gorges
, Fall Creek Gorge and Cascadilla Gorge, bound Central Campus and are used as popular swimming holes during the warmer months (although the university and city code discourage their use due to hazardous swimming conditions).
Adjacent to the main campus, Cornell owns the 2,800 acre (11.6 km2
) Cornell Botanic Gardens
, a botanical garden
containing flowers, trees, and ponds, with manicured trails providing access through the facility.
The university has embarked on numerous 'green' initiatives. In 2009, a new gas-fired combined heat and power facility replaced a coal-fired steam plant, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions to 7% below 1990 levels, and projected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 75,000 tons per year.
This facility satisfies 15% of campus electrical needs,
and a university-run, on-campus hydroelectric plant in the Fall Creek Gorge provides an additional 2%.
The university has a lake source cooling
project that uses Cayuga Lake to air condition campus buildings, with an 80% energy saving over conventional systems.
In 2007, Cornell established a Center for a Sustainable Future.
Cornell has been rated "A-" by the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card for its environmental and sustainability initiatives.
However, the university has drawn criticism from student groups for a planned North Campus expansion for which they have not released an environmental impact statement.
Since 2007 the university has committed to achieve net carbon neutrality
by 2035, from the baseline 2008 emissions.
Acting as the first Ivy League institution to take on such a sustainability goal.
Cornell's Ithaca campus as of 2020 is powered by 6 solar farms, providing a total of 28 megawatts of power.
In counterpart to lake source cooling
, heating needs plan to be met through the development of Earth Source Heating, a mid to low-grade enhanced geothermal system
. The geothermal system is planned to supply 20% of campus heating demand.
The Earth Source Heating project has received a $7.2 million grant from the DOE
and researchers plan to drill a test well in Spring of 2021 on Cornell land. The wells for Earth Source Heating will be 3-5 km deep reaching temperatures of >150°C. Waste biomass burning will be used to cover the estimated 20 'cold days' when the geothermal can not provide peak heating.
New York City campuses
Cornell's medical campus in New York
, also called Weill Cornell, is on the Upper East Side
, New York City
. It is home to two Cornell divisions: Weill Cornell Medical College
and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences
, and has been affiliated with the NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital
Although their faculty and academic divisions are separate, the Medical Center shares administrative and teaching hospital functions with the Columbia University Medical Center
These teaching hospitals include the Payne Whitney Clinic in Manhattan and the Westchester Division in White Plains, New York
Weill Cornell Medical College is also affiliated with the neighboring Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center
, Rockefeller University
, and the Hospital for Special Surgery
. Many faculty members have joint appointments at these institutions. Weill Cornell, Rockefeller, and Memorial Sloan–Kettering offer the Tri-Institutional MD–PhD Program
to selected entering Cornell medical students.
From 1942 to 1979, the campus also housed the Cornell School of Nursing
On December 19, 2011, Cornell and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
won a competition for rights to claim free city land and $100 million in subsidies to build an engineering campus in New York City. The competition was established by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
to increase entrepreneurship and job growth in the city's technology sector. The winning bid consisted of a 2.1 million square feet state-of-the-art tech campus to be built on Roosevelt Island
on the site of the former Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital
. Instruction began in the fall of 2012 in a temporary location in Manhattan (111 Eighth Avenue
in space donated by Google
of the architecture firm Morphosis
has been selected to design the first building to be constructed on Roosevelt Island. Begun in 2014, construction of the first phase of the campus was completed in September 2017.
Other New York City programs
In addition to the tech campus and medical center, Cornell maintains local offices in New York City for some of its service programs. The Cornell Urban Scholars Program encourages students to pursue public service careers, arranging assignments with organizations working with New York City's poorest children, families, and communities.
The NYS College of Human Ecology
and the NYS College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
enable students to reach out to local communities by gardening and building with the Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Students with the NYS School of Industrial and Labor Relations'
Extension & Outreach Program make workplace expertise available to organizations, union members, policymakers, and working adults.
The College of Engineering's
Operations Research Manhattan, in the city's financial district
, brings together business optimization research and decision support services addressed to both financial applications and public health logistics planning.
The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
has an 11,000 square foot Gensler
-designed facility in 26 Broadway
(The Standard Oil Building) in the Financial District
that opened in 2015.
Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar
is in Education City
, near Doha
. Opened in September 2004, this is the first American medical school to be established outside the United States. The college is part of Cornell's program to increase its international influence. The college is a joint initiative with the Qatar government, which seeks to improve the country's academic programs and medical care.
Along with its full four-year MD program, which mirrors the curriculum taught at Weill Medical College
in New York City, the college offers a two-year undergraduate pre-medical
program with a separate admissions process. This undergraduate program opened in September 2002 and was the first coeducational
institute of higher education
The college is partially funded by the Qatar government through the Qatar Foundation
, which contributed $750 million for its construction.
The medical center is housed in a large two-story structure designed by Arata Isozaki
, an internationally known Japanese architect.
In 2004, the Qatar Foundation announced the construction of a 350-bed Specialty Teaching Hospital near the medical college in Education City. The hospital was to be completed in a few years.
As New York State
's land grant
college, Cornell operates a cooperative extension service
with 56 offices spread out across the state, each staffed with extension educators who offer programs in five subjects: Agriculture and Food Systems; Children, Youth, and Families; Community and Economic Vitality; Environment and Natural Resources; and Nutrition and Health.
Cornell also operates New York's Animal Health Diagnostic Center.
Organization and administration
Cornell is a non-profit organization governed by a 64-member Board of Trustees
consisting of both privately and publicly appointed trustees. Three trustees are appointed by the Governor of New York
: one seat is reserved for the eldest lineal descendant of Ezra Cornell; two members from each of the fields of agriculture, business, and labor in New York state; eight trustees to be elected from among and by the alumni of the university; two trustees to be elected from among and by the faculty of the university at Ithaca and Geneva; two trustees to be elected from among and by the membership of the university's student body at Ithaca (one undergraduate and one graduate student);
and one trustee to be elected from among and by the nonacademic staff and employees of the university at Ithaca and Geneva, 37 trustees at large and finally, the Governor, Temporary President of the Senate
, Speaker of the Assembly
, and president of the university serve in an ex officio
Robert Harrison has served as the chairman of the board since 2014.
The board elects a President to serve as the chief executive and educational officer.
Cornell consists of nine privately endowed and four publicly supported "statutory colleges
": the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Human Ecology, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and College of Veterinary Medicine. These statutory colleges received $131.9 million in SUNY
appropriations in 2010–2011 to support their teaching, research, and service missions, which makes them accountable to SUNY trustees and other state agencies. The budget also includes $3.9 million of state funds for Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Residents of New York enrolled in these colleges also qualify for discounted tuition.
However, Attorney GeneralEliot Spitzer
issued a 2005 opinion asserting that, with respect to their academic activities, statutory colleges should be understood to be private, non-state parties.:1
Cornell is decentralized
, with its colleges and schools exercising wide autonomy. Each defines its own academic programs, operates its own admissions
and advising programs, and confers its own degrees
. The only university-wide requirements for a baccalaureate
degree are to pass a swimming
test, take two physical education
courses, and satisfy a writing requirement. A handful of inter-school academic departments offer courses in more than one college.
All academic departments are affiliated with at least one college; the last department without such an affiliation, the Cornell Africana Studies and Research Center
, merged with the College of Arts and Sciences in July 2011.
The A.D. White
Reading Room, which contains much of the 30,000 volume collection donated to the university by its co-founder and first president
Seven schools provide undergraduate programs and an additional seven provide graduate and professional programs. Students pursuing graduate degrees in departments of these schools are enrolled in the Graduate School
. The School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions
offers programs for college and high school students, professionals, and other adults.
Of the 15,182 undergraduate students, 4,602 (30.3%) are affiliated with the largest college by enrollment, Arts and Sciences
, followed by 3,203 (21.1%) in Engineering
and 3,101 (20.4%) in Agriculture and Life Sciences
. By student enrollment, the smallest of the seven undergraduate colleges is Architecture, Art, and Planning
, with 503 (3.3%) students.
The university also operates eCornell
, which offers both certificate programs and professional development courses online.
In addition to being New York's land-grant college, Cornell is also a partner in New York's sea-grant program,
and is a part of New York's space-grant consortium.
The university previously served as the hub of the Northeast's sun-grant program,
but the hub has since moved to Pennsylvania State University
In 2015, Cornell ranked fifth among universities in the U.S. in fund-raising, collecting $
591 million in private support.
In addition to the central University development staff located in Ithaca and New York City, each college and program has its own staffed fundraising program. In 2006, Cornell launched a $4 billion fundraising campaign, which reached $3 billion in November 2010.
In 2013, Cornell's "Cornell Now" fundraising campaign raised over $475 million.
Cornell is a large, primarily residential research university with a majority of enrollments in undergraduate programs.
The university has been accredited
by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Cornell operates on a 4–1–4 academic calendar with the fall term beginning in late August and ending in early December, a three-week winter session in January, and the spring term beginning in late January and ending in early May.
Admission to the university is highly competitive. For the spring of 2021 (Class of 2025), Cornell received 67,000 applications; 5,863 were admitted, a 8.7% acceptance rate, and enrolled.
For the Fall 2019 enrolling freshmen, the middle 50% range of SAT
scores were 680-760 for evidence-based reading and writing, and 720-800 for math.
The middle 50% range of the ACT
Composite score was 32–35.
The university continues to attract a diverse and inclusive student body. The proportion of admitted students who self-identify as underrepresented minorities increased to 34.2% from 33.7% last year, and 59.3% self-identify as students of color. That number has increased steadily over the past five years, enrollment officials said, from 52.5% in 2017 and 57.2% last year.
Of those admitted 1,163 will be first-generation college students – another increase over last year’s 844.
Section 9 of the original charter of Cornell ensured that the university "shall be open to applicants for admission ... at the lowest rates of expense consistent with its welfare and efficiency, and without distinction as to rank, class, previous occupation or locality".
The University Charter provided for free instruction to one student chosen from each Assembly district in the state.
Starting in the 1950s Cornell coordinated with other Ivy League schools to provide a consistent set of financial aid. However, in 1989, a consent decree to end a Justice Department antitrust
investigation ended such coordination.
Even after the decree, all Ivy League schools continue to award aid on financial need without offering any athletic scholarships.
In December 2010, Cornell announced a policy of matching any grant component of financial aid offers from other Ivy League schools, MIT
, Duke University
, if an accepted applicant is trying to decide between Cornell and those other schools.
On January 31, 2008, Cornell announced a new financial aid initiative to be phased in over the following two years. In the first year, 2008–2009, Cornell replaced need-based loans with scholarships for undergraduate students from families with incomes under $60,000 and capped such loans annually at $3,000 for students from families with incomes between $60,000 and $120,000. The following year, 2009–2010, the program improved by replacing loan with scholarships for students from families with incomes up to $75,000, and capped annual loans at $3,000 for students from families with income between $75,000 and $120,000. For families above $120,000, need-based loans were capped at $7,500 per year.
The initiative costs an additional $14 million per year to fully implement.
Although Cornell's endowment dropped 27% in the second half of 2008, its president announced that the financial aid initiative will continue by withdrawing an additional $35 million from the endowment for undergraduate financial aid in 2009–10.
Cornell is seeking $125 million in gifts to support the financial aid initiative.
In 2010, 1,647 of the 3,181 full-time freshmen enrolled were found to have financial need (40%).
Of these, Cornell could meet the full financial aid needs of all 1,647 freshmen. Cornell's average undergraduate student's indebtedness at graduation is $21,549.
Students performing a Raas
, a traditional folk dance from India
In its annual edition of "America's Best Architecture & Design Schools", the journal Design Intelligence
has consistently ranked Cornell's Bachelor of Architecture program as number one in the nation (2000–2002, 2005–2007, 2009–2013 and 2015-2016). In the 2011 survey, the program ranked first and the Master of Architecture program ranked 6th.
In 2017, Design Intelligence ranked Cornell's Master of Landscape Architecture program 4th in the nation with the Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture program ranking 5th among its undergraduate counterparts.
Among business schools in the United States, the Johnson School of Management at Cornell was named the 9th best business school by Forbes
8th by The Washington Post
for salary potential, 13th overall by Poets and Quants
but 4th for investment banking
and 6th for salary worldwide in 2015,
11th nationally by Bloomberg Businessweek
and 11th nationally and 14th worldwide by The Economist
In 2013, the Johnson school was ranked 2nd for sustainability by Bloomberg Businessweek
The Cornell University Library is the 11th largest academic library in the United States, ranked by number of volumes
Organized into 20 divisions, in 2005 it held 7.5 million printed volumes in open stacks, 8.2 million microfilms
, and a total of 440,000 maps, motion pictures, DVDs, sound recordings, and computer files in its collections, in addition to extensive digital resources and the University Archives.
It was the first among all U.S. colleges and universities to allow undergraduates
to borrow books from its libraries.
In 2006, The Princeton Review
ranked it as the 11th best college library,
and it climbed to 6th best in 2009.
The library plays an active role in furthering online archiving of scientific and historical documents. arXiv
, an e-print
archive created at Los Alamos National Laboratory
by Paul Ginsparg
, is operated and primarily funded by Cornell as part of the library's services. The archive has changed the way many physicists
communicate, making the e-print a viable and popular means of announcing new research.
Press and scholarly publications
The Cornell University Press, established in 1869 but inactive from 1884 to 1930, was the first university publishing
enterprise in the United States.
Today, the press is one of the country's largest university presses
It produces approximately 150 nonfiction titles each year in various disciplines including anthropology, Asian studies, biological sciences, classics, history, industrial relations, literary criticism and theory, natural history, politics and international relations, veterinary science, and women's studies.
Cornell's academic units and student groups also publish a number of scholarly journals. Faculty-led publications include the Johnson School's Administrative Science Quarterly
the ILR School's Industrial and Labor Relations Review
, the Arts and Sciences Philosophy Department's The Philosophical Review
, the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning's Journal of Architecture
, and the Law School's Journal of Empirical Legal Studies
Student-led scholarly publications include the Law Review
, the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs' Cornell Policy Review
, the International Law Journal
, the Journal of Law and Public Policy
, the International Affairs Review
, and the HR Review
. Physical Review
, recognized internationally as among the best and well known journals of physics, was founded at Cornell in 1893 before being later managed by the American Physical Society
Cornell, a research university, is ranked fourth in the world in producing the largest number of graduates who go on to pursue PhDs in engineering
or the natural sciences
at American institutions, and fifth in the world in producing graduates who pursue PhDs at American institutions in any field.
Research is a central element of the university's mission; in 2009 Cornell spent $671 million on science and engineering research and development, the 16th highest in the United States.
Cornell is classified
among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity".
For the 2016–17 fiscal year, the university spent $984.5 million on research.
Federal sources constitute the largest source of research funding, with total federal investment of $438.2 million.
The agencies contributing the largest share of that investment are the Department of Health and Human Services
and the National Science Foundation
, accounting for 49.6% and 24.4% of all federal investment, respectively.
Cornell was on the top-ten list of U.S. universities receiving the most patents
in 2003, and was one of the nation's top five institutions in forming start-up companies
In 2004–05, Cornell received 200 invention disclosures, filed 203 U.S. patent applications, completed 77 commercial license agreements, and distributed royalties
of more than $4.1 million to Cornell units and inventors.
Since 1962, Cornell has been involved in unmanned missions to Mars
In the 21st century, Cornell had a hand in the Mars Exploration Rover Mission
. Cornell's Steve Squyres
, Principal Investigator for the Athena Science Payload, led the selection of the landing zones and requested data collection features for the Spirit
and Opportunity rovers
. Jet Propulsion Laboratory
engineers took those requests and designed the rovers to meet them. The rovers, both of which have operated long past their original life expectancies, are responsible for the discoveries that were awarded 2004 Breakthrough of the Year honors by Science
Control of the Mars rovers has shifted between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech
and Cornell's Space Sciences Building.
Further, Cornell researchers discovered the rings
around the planet Uranus
and Cornell built and operated the telescope at Arecibo Observatory
located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico
until 2011, when they transferred the operations to SRI International
, the Universities Space Research Association
and the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico
In the early 1980s, Cornell deployed the first IBM 3090
-400VF and coupled two IBM 3090-600E systems to investigate coarse-grained parallel computing. In 1984, the National Science Foundation
began work on establishing five new supercomputer
centers, including the Cornell Center for Advanced Computing
, to provide high-speed computing resources for research within the United States. As an NSF center, Cornell deployed the first IBM Scalable Parallel supercomputer. In the 1990s, Cornell developed scheduling software and deployed the first supercomputer built by Dell. Most recently, Cornell deployed Red Cloud, one of the first cloud computing services designed specifically for research. Today, the center is a partner on the National Science Foundation Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment
(XSEDE) supercomputing program, providing coordination for XSEDE architecture and design, systems reliability testing, and online training using the Cornell Virtual Workshop learning platform.
Cornell scientists have researched the fundamental particles of nature for more than 70 years. Cornell physicists, such as Hans Bethe
, contributed not only to the foundations of nuclear physics but also participated in the Manhattan Project
(see also: List of Cornell Manhattan Project people
). In the 1930s, Cornell built the second cyclotron
in the United States. In the 1950s, Cornell physicists became the first to study synchrotron radiation
. During the 1990s, the Cornell Electron Storage Ring
, located beneath Alumni Field, was the world's highest-luminosity electron-positron collider.
After building the synchrotron at Cornell, Robert R. Wilson
took a leave of absence to become the founding director of Fermilab
, which involved designing and building the largest accelerator in the United States.
Cornell's accelerator and high-energy physics groups are involved in the design of the proposed International Linear Collider
and plan to participate in its construction and operation. The International Linear Collider, to be completed in the late 2010s, will complement the Large Hadron Collider
and shed light on questions such as the identity of dark matter
and the existence of extra dimensions.
As part of its research work, Cornell has established several research collaborations with universities around the globe. For example, a partnership with the University of Sussex
(including the Institute of Development Studies
at Sussex) allows research and teaching collaboration between the two institutions.
For the 2016–2017 academic year, Cornell had over 1,000 registered student organizations. These clubs and organizations run the gamut from kayaking to full-armor jousting, from varsity and club sports and a cappella groups to improvisational theatre, from political clubs and publications to chess and video game clubs.
The Cornell International Affairs Society sends over 100 Cornellians to collegiate Model United Nations conferences across North America and hosts the Cornell Model United Nations Conference each spring for over 500 high school students. The Cornell University Mock Trial Association regularly sends teams to the national championship and is ranked 5th in the nation.
Additionally, the Cornell International Affairs Society's traveling Model United Nations team is ranked number 16 in the nation.
Cornell United Religious Work is a collaboration among many diverse religious traditions, helping to provide spiritual resources throughout a student's time at college. The Cornell Catholic Community
is the largest Catholic student organization on campus. Student organizations also include a myriad of groups including a symphony orchestra,
formal and informal choral groups,
including the Sherwoods
, the Chordials
and other musical groups that play everything from classical, jazz, to ethnic styles in addition to the Big Red Marching Band
, which performs regularly at football games and other campus events.
Organized in 1868, the oldest Cornell student organization is the Cornell University Glee Club
Apart from musical groups, Cornell has an active outdoor community, consisting of Cornell Outdoor Education
, Cornell Outing Club
, and Outdoor Odyssey
, a student-run group that runs pre-orientation trips for first-year and transfer students. A Cornell student organization, The Cornell Astronomical Society
, runs public observing nights every Friday evening at the Fuertes Observatory
. The university is home to the Telluride House
, an intellectual residential society. The university is also home to three secret honor societies
called Sphinx Head
Der Hexenkreis and Quill and Dagger
that have maintained a presence on campus for well over 120 years.
Cornell's clubs are primarily subsidized financially by the Student Assembly and the Graduate & Professional Student Assembly, two student-run organizations with a collective budget of $3.0 million per year.
The assemblies also finance other student life programs including a concert commission and an on-campus theater.
Greek life, professional, and honor societies
Cornell hosts a large and controversial fraternity and sorority system
, with 70 chapters involving 33% of male and 24% of female undergraduates. Alpha Phi Alpha
, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter
organization established for African Americans
, was founded at Cornell in 1906. Alpha Zeta
fraternity, the first Greek-lettered organization established for Latin Americans in the United States, was also founded at Cornell on January 1, 1890. Alpha Zeta served the wealthy international Latin American students that came to the United States to study. This organization led a movement of fraternities that catered to international Latin American students that was active from 1890 to 1975.
On February 19, 1982, La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity was established;
it would eventually become the only Latino based fraternity in the nation with chapters at every Ivy League institution.
Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi
sorority was established on April 16, 1988, making the organization the first Latina-Based, and not Latina exclusive, sorority founded at an ivy-league institution.
Cornell's connection to national Greek life is strong and longstanding. Many chapters are among the oldest of their respective national organizations, as evidenced by the proliferation of Alpha-series
chapters. The chapter house of Alpha Delta Phi
constructed in 1877 is believed to be the first house built in America solely for fraternity use, and the chapter's current home was designed by John Russell Pope
Philanthropy opportunities are used to encourage community relations, for example, during the 2004–05 academic year, the Greek system contributed 21,668 community service
hours and raised $176,547 in charitable contributions from its philanthropic efforts.
Generally, discipline is managed internally by the inter-Greek governing boards. As with all student, faculty or staff misconduct, more serious cases are reviewed by the Judicial Administrator, who administers Cornell's justice system
Press and radio
Other press outlets include The Cornell Lunatic
, a campus humor magazine; the Cornell Chronicle
, the university's newspaper of record; and Kitsch Magazine
, a feature magazine
published in cooperation with Ithaca College
. The Cornellian
is an independent student organization that organizes, arranges, produces, edits, and publishes the yearbook of the same name; it is composed of artistic photos of the campus, student life, and athletics, and the standard senior portraits. It carries the Silver Crown Award for Journalism and a Benjamin Franklin Award for Print Design – the only Ivy League Yearbook with such a distinction.
Cornellians are represented over the radio waves on WVBR
, an independent commercial FM radio station owned and operated by Cornell students. Other student groups also operate internet streaming audio sites.
One of several footbridges
that span Cornell's gorges
and ease commuting from housing to academic buildings on campus
University housing is broadly divided into three sections: North Campus
, West Campus
, and Collegetown. Cornell began experiments with co-ed dormitories in 1971 and continued the tradition of residential advisors (RAs) within the campus system. In 1991, new students could be found throughout West Campus, including at the historic Baker and Boldt Hall complexes; since a 1997 residential initiative, West Campus houses transfer and returning students, whereas North Campus is almost entirely populated by freshmen as well as sorority and fraternity houses.
The options for living on North Campus for upperclassmen are the program houses and co-op houses. Program houses include Risley Residential College
, Just About Music, the Ecology House
, Holland International Living Center
, the Multicultural Living Learning Unit
, the Latino Living Center
, and Ujamaa
. The co-op houses on North are The Prospect of Whitby, Triphammer Cooperative, Wait Avenue Cooperative, Wari Cooperative, and Wait Terrace.
On West Campus, there are three university-affiliated cooperatives, 660 Stewart Cooperative, Von Cramm Hall, and Watermargin
, and one independent cooperative, Cayuga Lodge
. In an attempt to create a sense of community and an atmosphere of education outside the classroom and continue Andrew Dickson White's vision, a $250 million reconstruction of West Campus created residential colleges
there for undergraduates.
The idea of building a house system can be attributed in part to the success of Risley Residential College, the oldest continually operating residential college at Cornell.
In 2018, Cornell announced its North Campus Residential Expansive project. By 2022, the university aims to add 2,000 beds on North Campus. Five new dorms and a dining hall will be created, three of which will be located in Appel Field and will be exclusive for freshmen. Sophomores will have two new dorms located in the current CC Parking Lot.
Additionally, Cornell has several housing areas for graduate and professional students. Of these, Schuyler House (which was formerly a part of Sage Infirmary)
has a dorm layout, while Maplewood Apartments, Hasbrouck Apartments, and Thurston Court Apartments are apartment-style, some even allowing for family living. Off campus, many single-family houses in the East Hill neighborhoods adjacent to the university have been converted to apartments. Private developers have also built several multi-story apartment complexes in the Collegetown neighborhood. Nine percent of undergraduate students reside in fraternity and sorority houses, although first semester freshmen are not permitted to join them. Cornell's Greek system
has 67 chapters and over 54 Greek residences that house approximately 1,500 students. About 42% of Greek members live in their houses. Housing cooperatives
or other independent living units exist, including Telluride House
, the Center for Jewish Living, Phillips House (located on North Campus, 1975 all women; 2016, all men), and Center for World Community (international community, off campus, formed by Annabel Taylor Hall, 1972, mixed gender).
The cooperative houses on North include The Prospect of Whitby, Triphammer Cooperative, Wait Avenue Cooperative, Wari Cooperative, and Wait Terrace.
On West Campus, there are three university-affiliated cooperatives, 660 Stewart Cooperative, Von Cramm Cooperative Hall
, and Watermargin
, and one independent cooperative, Cayuga Lodge
Besides this, there exists also cooperative housing not owned by Cornell, like Gamma Alpha
or Stewart Little.
As of 2014, Cornell's dining system was ranked 3rd in the nation by the Princeton Review
The university has 29 on-campus dining locations, including 10 "All You Care to Eat" cafeterias.
North Campus is home to 3 of these dining halls: Robert Purcell Marketplace Eatery (located in Robert Purcell Community Center), North Star Dining Room (located in the Appel Commons), and Risley Dining (located in Risley Hall).
West Campus houses 6 dining halls, 5 of which accompany the West Campus residential houses: Cook House Dining Room, Becker House Dining Room, Rose House Dining Room, Jansen's Dining Room at Hans Bethe House, and Keeton House Dining Room.
Also located on West Campus is 104West!, a kosher/multicultural dining room.
Central Campus accommodates just a single dining hall: Okenshields, located in Willard Straight Hall.
Various Cornell housing facilities
A 1908 print depicting a Cornell baseball
team had at least a share of the national championship four times before 1940
and has won the Ivy League championship three times, last in 1990.
In 2010, the Cornell men's basketball team appeared for the first time in the NCAA tournament's East Regional Semifinals, known as the "Sweet 16". It was the first Ivy League team to make the semifinals since 1979.
Cornell Outdoor Education
Cornell runs one of the largest collegiate outdoor education programs in the country, serving over 20,000 people every year. The program runs over 130 different courses including but not limited to: Backpacking and Camping, Mountain Biking, Bike Touring, Caving, Hiking, Rock and Ice Climbing, Wilderness First Aid, and tree climbing.
COE also oversees one of the largest student-run pre-freshman summer programs, known as Outdoor Odyssey.
Most classes are often entirely taught by paid student instructors and courses count toward Cornell's physical education graduation requirement.
One of the most remarkable facilities at Cornell Outdoor Education is The Lindseth Climbing Wall. The wall was renovated in 2016, and now includes 8,000 square feet of climbing surface, up from 4,800 square feet previously.
The new wall now offers a more modern environment with bouldering, top-rope, and lead climbing facilities appropriate for various skill levels.
A tradition started in 1901, Dragon Day
celebrates a feat by first-year architecture
students to construct a colossal dragon to be paraded to center campus and then burned.
An ivy-covered emblem of Ezra Cornell
circumscribed by the university motto
Cornelliana is a term for Cornell's traditions, legends, and lore. Cornellian traditions include Slope Day
, a celebration held on the last day of classes of the spring semester, and Dragon Day
, which includes the burning of a dragon built by architecture students. Dragon Day is one of the school's oldest traditions and has been celebrated annually since 1901, typically on or near St. Patrick's Day. The dragon is built secretly by the architecture students, and taunting messages are left for the engineering students for the week before Dragon Day. On Dragon Day, the dragon is paraded across the Arts Quad and then set afire.
According to legend, if a virgin crosses the Arts Quad
at midnight, the statues of Ezra Cornell
and Andrew Dickson White
will walk off their pedestals, meet in the center of the Quad, and shake hands, congratulating themselves on the chastity of students. There is also another myth that if a couple crosses the suspension bridge on North Campus, and the young woman does not accept a kiss from her partner, the bridge will fall. If the kiss is accepted, the couple is assured a long future together.
The university is also host to various student pranks. For example, on at least two different occasions the university has awoken to find something odd atop the 173-foot (52.7 m) tall McGraw clock tower—once a 60-pound (27 kg) pumpkin and another time a disco ball. Because there is no access to the spire atop the tower, how the items were put in place remains a mystery.
The colors of the lights on McGraw tower change to orange for Halloween and green for St. Patrick's Day.
The clock tower also plays music.
The school colors are carnelian
(a shade of red) and white, a play on "Cornellian" and Andrew Dickson White. A bear is commonly used as the unofficial mascot, which dates back to the introduction of the mascot "Touchdown" in 1915, a live bear who was brought onto the field during football games.
The university's alma mater
is "Far Above Cayuga's Waters
", and its fight song
is "Give My Regards to Davy
". People associated with the university are called "Cornellians".
Cornell offers a variety of professional and peer counseling services to students.
Formerly called Gannett Health Services until its name change in 2016, Cornell Health offers on-campus outpatient health services with emergency services and residential treatment provided by Cayuga Medical Center
For most of its history, Cornell provided residential medical care for sick students, including at the historic Sage Infirmary.
Cornell offers specialized reproductive health and family planning services.
The university also has a student-run Emergency Medical Service
(EMS) agency. The squad provides emergency response to medical emergencies on the campus at Cornell and surrounding university-owned properties. Cornell EMS also provides stand-by service for university events and provides CPR, First Aid and other training seminars to the Cornell community.
The university received worldwide attention for a series of six student suicides by jumping into a gorge
that occurred during the 2009–10 school year, and after the incidents added temporary fences to the bridges which span area gorges.
In May 2013, Cornell indicated that it planned to set up nets, which will extend out 15 feet, on five of the university's bridges.
Installation of the nets began in May 2013 and were completed over the summer of that year.
There were cases of gorge-jumping in the 1970s and 1990s.
Before this abnormal cluster of suicides, the suicide rate at Cornell had been similar to or below the suicide rates of other American universities, including a period between 2005 and 2008 in which no suicides occurred.
Cornell University Police protect the campus and are classified as peace officers and have the same authority as the Ithaca city police. They are similar to the campus police at Ithaca College
and Syracuse University
because those campus police are classified as armed peace officers. The Cornell University Police are on campus and on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their duties include: patrolling the university around the clock, responding to emergencies and non-emergency calls for service, crime prevention services, active investigation of crimes on campus, enforcement of state criminal and motor vehicle laws, and campus regulations.[non-primary source needed]
Cornell counts numerous notable individuals who have either come to the university as faculty to teach and to conduct research, or as students who have gone on to do noteworthy things. As of October 2020, 61 Nobel laureates
were either faculty members, researchers, or students at Cornell.
1916 Cornell faculty
As of 2009, Cornell had 1,639 full-and part-time faculty members affiliated with its main campus,
1,235 affiliated with its New York City divisions, and 34 affiliated with its campus in Qatar.
Cornell's faculty for the 2005–06 academic year included three Nobel laureates
, a Crafoord Prize
winner, two Turing Award
winners, a Fields Medal
winner, two Legion of Honor
recipients, a World Food Prize
winner, an Andrei Sakharov Prize
winner, three National Medal of Science
winners, two Wolf Prize
winners, five MacArthur award
winners, four Pulitzer Prize
winners, a Carter G. Woodson
Scholars Medallion recipient, 20 National Science Foundation
career grant holders, a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences
Award, a recipient of the American Mathematical Society
's Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement
, a recipient of the Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics
, and three Packard Foundation
taught at Cornell from 1933 to 1935 and is considered the "father of social psychology
". Norman Borlaug
taught at the university from 1982 to 1988 and is considered the "father of the Green Revolution
being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
, the Presidential Medal of Freedom
, the Congressional Gold Medal
, and 49 honorary doctorates. Frances Perkins
joined the Cornell faculty in 1952 after serving as the first female member of the United States Cabinet
and served until her death in 1965. Perkins was a witness to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire
in her adolescence and went on to champion the National Labor Relations Act
, the Fair Labor Standards Act
, and the Social Security Act
while United States Secretary of Labor
. Buckminster Fuller
was a visiting professor at Cornell for one year (1952),
and Henry Louis Gates
, African American Studies
scholar and subject of an arrest controversy and White House "Beer Summit"
, taught at Cornell from 1985 to 1989.
Plant genetics pioneer Ray Wu
invented the first method for sequencing DNA
, considered a major breakthrough in genetics as it has enabled researchers to more closely understand how genes work. Emmy Award
-winning actor John Cleese
, known for his roles in Monty Python
, James Bond
, Harry Potter
, has taught at Cornell since 1999. Charles Evans Hughes
taught in the law school from 1893 to 1895 before becoming Governor of New York
, United States Secretary of State
, and Chief Justice of the United States
. Georgios Papanikolaou
, who taught at Cornell's medical school from 1913 to 1961, invented the Pap smear
test for cervical cancer
. Robert C. Baker
('43), widely credited for inventing the chicken nugget
, taught at Cornell from 1957 to 1989. Carl Sagan
was a professor at the university from 1968 to 1996.
He narrated and co-wrote the PBS series Cosmos
, the Emmy Award- and Peabody Award-winning show that became the most watched series in public-television history. He also wrote the novel Contact
, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name
, and he won a Pulitzer Prize
for his novel The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence
. M. H. Abrams
was a professor emeritus of English and was the founding editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature
. James L. Hoard
, a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project
and an expert in crystallography
, was a professor emeritus of chemistry and taught from 1936 to 1971.
Vladimir Nabokov taught Russian and European literature at Cornell between 1948 and 1959.
The nominee of the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the authors of the theory of intelligentsia Vitaly Tepikin received the academic medal of Cornell University in 2021.
Cornell has twice (2008 and 2009) been named a "Great College to Work For" by The Chronicle of Higher Education
, due to receiving high ratings in compensation and benefits
, connection to institution and pride, faculty-administration relations, job satisfaction, and post-retirement benefits.
Many faculty, and president, live in the upscale suburb of Cayuga Heights
, directly north of campus.
Famous current and former Cornell faculty
Cornell alumni are noted for their accomplishments in public, professional, and corporate life. Lee Teng-hui
was the president of Taiwan
, Tsai Ing-wen
was elected to be the first female president of Taiwan
,Mario García Menocal
was president of Cuba
, Jamshid Amuzegar
('50) was prime minister of Iran
, Hu Shih
(1914) was a Chinese reformer and representative to the United Nations
, Janet Reno
('60) was the first female United States Attorney General
and Ruth Bader Ginsburg
('54) served on the Supreme Court
Alumnus David Starr Jordan
(1872) was the founding president of Stanford University
and M. Carey Thomas
(1877) was the second president and first female president of Bryn Mawr College
Additionally, alumnus Matt Urban
('41), a Medal of Honor
recipient, holds the distinction as one of the most decorated soldiers in World War II
Cornellians in business include: Citigroup
CEO Sanford Weill
('55), Goldman Sachs Group
Chairman Stephen Friedman
('59), Kraft Foods
CEO Irene Rosenfeld
('75, '77, '80),Autodesk
CEO Carl Bass
CEO Mark Bertolini
('84), S.C. Johnson & Son
CEO Fisk Johnson
('79, '80, '82, '84, '86),Cargill
Chairman Warren Staley
Chairman Kenneth T. Derr
CEO Dan Hesse
CEO Lowell McAdam
CEO Robert Selander
('72), Coors Brewing Company
CEO Adolph Coors
('37), Loews Corporation
Chairman Andrew Tisch
founder James McLamore
founder David Litman
founder David Duffield
founder Jay Walker
founder Myra Hart
founder Irwin M. Jacobs
('56), Tata Group
CEO Ratan Tata
('62),Nintendo of America
President and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé
and Johnson & Johnson
worldwide chairman Sandi Peterson
and Pawan Kumar Goenka
, MD of Mahindra & Mahindra
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