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March 2006

Big Red All The Way To The Frozen Four?

Well maybe, but first they are going to have to get past Colorado College and No. 1 seed Wisconsin in the Midwest regionals this weekend in Green Bay. Reports U.S. College Hockey Online :

If nothing else, the competitive nature of last year's loss should give Cornell confidence when it looks ahead to its possible opponent in the Midwest final. As the No. 8 overall seed, Cornell fell into the bracket of No. 1 seed Wisconsin; while not hosted by the Badgers nor on the Madison campus, the regional will be held at the Resch Center in Green Bay and the crowd will almost assuredly be wearing red — and not for Cornell,

While the location may be frustrating, if Cornell focuses on the Badgers then it will have overlooked the very real challenge posed by Colorado College. Few teams in the country will be able to challenge the Big Red's weaknesses better than the Tigers, who present an interesting contrast.

Cornell excels on defense and special teams, and relies heavily on the play of netminder David McKee to protect leads. Colorado College, on the other hand, is led by two of the most talented forwards in the nation: Brett Sterling and Marty Sertich, both finalists for the Hobey Baker.

The key for Cornell may be how successfully its defense and its penalty kill can control Sterling and Sertich. The Big Red has the sixth best defense in college hockey, allowing only 2.24 goals per game, and the nation's No. 7 penalty kill. And while Cornell's offense may at times struggle, the Big Red's power play remains potent. The top unit is led by forwards Matt Moulson, who has scored 11 of his 17 goals with the man advantage, and Byron Bitz, who's tallied six of his 10 scores on the power play.

Let's Go Red!

Matthew Nagowski | March 24, 2006 (#)

Cornell Freshman Found Dead at UVA

The Daily Sun reports:

Matthew Pearlstone '09 was found dead in a University of Virginia dorm room last Friday morning.

Campus police said the cause of death was unknown, but that there was no evidence of foul play. Pearlstone was visiting a friend at UVA during Cornell's spring break. Howard Pearlstone, Matthew's grandfather, told the Associated Press his grandson had been out "partying" the night before he was found dead in a bed in Cauthen residence hall. The state medical examiner in Richmond will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Pearlstone, who was a computer science and electrical engineering major at Cornell, was originally from St. Louis. He was a member of the Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle club and was named to the Dean's list. Before graduating from Ladue Horton Watkins High School, he was a marathon runner, captain of the swim team and a member of the varsity water polo team. He was also an honor student, a National Merit finalist, and a National AP Scholar.

The ever intrepid Elliott Back follows up with more.

This is, like all student deaths, a horrible tragedy for the University community. And while the cause of death remains inconclusive, many signs suggest that alcohol was involved.

As cynical as this may sound, the Cornell administration must be breathing a collective sigh of relief that the alcohol-induced death did not occur in one of Cornell's dorms or fraternity houses.

UVa's student paper has some more on the story. Given the ineptitude of the Daily Sun's investigative reporting as of recent (Andy has more here), this is probably the best information we are going to get on Pearlstone's death. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pearlstone was at a fraternity party during the course of his last evening alive.

Matthew Nagowski | March 21, 2006 (#)

Economic Diversity Across Cornell's Colleges

Do Cornell's contract colleges add to its socio-economic diversity?

I recently got into an interesting discussion with a friend on the subject of economic diversity in higher education. This is something that I wrote about when I was an undergraduate, and I find the subject perennially interesting.

In particularly, we were discussing the fact that not only does Cornell have more socioeconomic diversity than the Harvard's and Princeton's of the world, but it also (somewhat bizarrely) has more socioeconomic diversity than some state schools, like the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia.

Matthew Nagowski | March 07, 2006 (#)

Our Facebook Prez

I've just become "friends" with Cornell's new president, David Skorton. No, we didn't meet in person. We met on Facebook.

Skorton has 4,308 friends at the University of Iowa, some of whom are none too thrilled to see him leave:

"What's this about you leaving! You can't leave! I won't allow it. I forbid you to go!" writes one on Skorton's wall.

"is there anything we can do to convince you to stay?" pleads another.

But, alas, the deal has been made and soon Cornellians will be graced with the good Doctor's arrival in Ithaca. And, being the welcoming community that Cornell is, 137 students have already become "friends" with the university's new president.

Now, who's going to be the first to poke him?

Marc Zawel | March 07, 2006 (#)

No College Student Left Behind?

The New York Times recently reported (in an article that is now only available to TimesSelect[tm] members) that education secretary Margaret Spellings' Commission on the Future of Higher Education has until August to deliver recommendations covering accountability and quality of teaching. Educators nationwide received this news with a collective shudder: what's next, No Child Left Behind, College Edition?

Indeed, there is great potential for this initiative to approach serious government interference. While the chair, Charles Miller, claims that he is interested in pursuing the viability of nationwide college-level standardized testing for informational purposes only, anyone with a view of history knows that pretexts change, and a testing regime ostensibly intended merely as public knowledge will someday morph into mandatory goals and funding tied to arbitrary requirements.

Andy Guess | March 06, 2006 (#) (0)

The Affirmation of Solomon

The Supreme Court just ruled unanimously to uphold the Solomon Amendment, which has been interpreted to require schools accepting federal funds to allow military recruiters onto their campuses. This mostly affects law schools, whose students are the prime targets, yet most colleges today have nondiscrimination policies that are in direct conflict with the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule.

In my days at The Sun, I wrote two editorials on this issue. While I still agree with their spirit, I have come around to realize that the Supreme Court's decision is entirely correct. My argument went like this: nondiscrimination for gays is essential; the military undermines this through its policy on homosexuals, which, although a step forward at the time, is not sufficient; ROTC, as a necessary and important part of Cornell's legacy, as well as a military institution, also has a problematic stance regarding gays on campus; the problem is not Solomon itself, which is smart legislation, but "don't ask, don't tell"; still, the Cornell Law School should take a stand and file an amicus brief against the Solomon Amendment on principle.

Andy Guess | March 06, 2006 (#) (0)

The Stabbing and Power-Law Distributions

It occurred to me, in thinking about Cornell's stabbing incident, that there might be a better model with which to analyze and discuss the alleged racist violence. I've argued that the problem is one of bad apples, rather than a rotten orchard with deep-seated roots; mainstream campus opinion (or, more accurately, vocal campus opinion) holds that the stabbing was merely a symptom of broad-based, systemic racism.

Where else to turn in such dilemmas but our friend Malcolm Gladwell? One of his latest articles explores "power-law distributions," which explain everything from automobile emissions and police brutality to homelessness. Power-law distributions are situations in which the majority of a given phenomenon can be explained by a small minority of outliers at the extreme. Example: most harmful car exhaust comes from just a relative few offenders. Similarly, LAPD corruption could be traced to just a few bad apples who racked up the vast majority of bad behavior logged by the department.

The problem is, such explanations don't satisfy the "systemic" crowd: those who want to see a massive expansion of the welfare state to feed the homeless; those who want deep structural overhauls in police departments; those who want to rearrange the foundations of academia to eradicate its racist core. That's because the problem isn't the system itself but those relatively few people who don't follow the rules of that system. It becomes a problem of compliance rather than policy.

And that's what I see in the case of Cornell. Instead of passing Student Assembly resolutions or requiring superfluous courses on racism, this paradigm suggests that there needs to be harsher penalties for violent and/or hateful behavior on campus. This presumes, of course, that Cornell's judicial structure is fair, and that the student is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law -- something which has not yet happened.

My question is: Should the University intervene in cases where the local police and judicial system are already involved?

(Crossposted: the guess pulpit)

Andy Guess | March 06, 2006 (#) (0)

eCornell and Access to Higher Education

I recently encountered an interesting article by AOL concerning online learning in the Ivy League. The article mentions Cornell's online learning a fair amount:

"Since 2001 we've interacted with more than 8,000 students, delivered 24,000 unique courses, and serviced learners from 132 countries," says Chris Proulx, president and CEO of eCornell, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cornell University. Though at the moment, the school does not provide coursework for credit, its training programs interact with Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, School of Hotel Administration, and Johnson Graduate School of Management. "Our focus is on professional and executive education. We service individuals who are interested in career advancement certificates -- we train the Fortune 1000."

Unfortunately, the article fails to mention Cornell's other online learning offering -- distance learning from the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions -- and instead focuses on eCornell, which is aimed at professional education and is a blatant, for-profit venture of the University, and something which I find to be a bit antiethical to Cornell's land grant mission. For instance, this course on "Proactive Leadership in Higher Education" (geared at community college administrators, among others), carries a pretty hefty pricetag of $2500 with it.

But even a course through Continuing Education isn't cheap -- a non-degree student interested in taking an online course would have to pay the same rate as anybody else -- $835 per credit.

Now compare these prices and services to those offered by the Distance Learning component of Harvard's Extension School, where most courses run under $1000 for the whole course and some courses cost as little as $350. Moreover, the courses are offered all year round, and are not just available during the Winter and Summer terms, as Cornell's are.

I know that the faculty squabbled over the governance and funding of eCornell when it was first launched six years ago, but it may behoove them to return to the issue. If Cornell was truly committed to its motto of "any person... any study" and its land grant mission, it would seriously reconsider some of its distance education pricing and policies.

Matthew Nagowski | March 03, 2006 (#)

Other Recent Posts

-- WSJ: Cornell Wins NYC Tech Campus Bid (EBilmes)

-- Barrier Update: City Approves Nets (DJost)

-- Big Red Cymbal Guy (Nagowski)

-- New York Times Survey on Campus Recruiting is Flawed (KScott)

-- Barrier Update: Legal precedent suggests City of Ithaca will not be held liable for gorge suicide (DJost)

-- Despite MSG Loss, Big Potential for Big Red Hockey (EBilmes)

-- City Council Will Vote on Suicide Nets (DJost)

-- An Encounter on the Upper East Side (Nagowski)

-- Showing Off Your School Spirit (Nagowski)

-- Chipotle Ithaca? (KScott)

-- Cornell at the ING NYC Marathon (KScott)

-- Crossing Over a Fine Line: Commercial Activity on Campus (KScott)

-- Milstein's Downfall (Nagowski)

-- Can any Cornell-associated organization really be independent of the University? (Nagowski)

-- Slope Media Revisited (EBilmes)

-- Slope Media Group Approved for Byline Funding (KScott)

-- Occupy AEM? (KScott)

-- New campus pub to be good for both Greeks and non-Greeks (Nagowski)

-- Gagging the Election (Nagowski)

-- The Changing Structure of Rush Week (Nagowski)

-- Ivy League Humility in the Midwest (EBilmes)

-- Of Median Grades and Economics Minors (Nagowski)

-- Homecoming Recap (Nagowski)

-- My Cornell Bookshelf (Nagowski)

-- The Sun's Opinion Section Has Suddenly Gotten Good (Nagowski)

-- Remembering the 11th (Nagowski)

-- Cornellian Tapped as Top Economic Advisor (Nagowski)

-- Cutting Pledging, and the Good Which Comes With It (EBilmes)

-- Why Cornell Should Not Close Fall Creek Gorge (Nagowski)

-- Welcome to the Class of 2015 (Nagowski)