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June 2006

Cornell's (Relatively) Open Doors

Inside Higher Education has an interesting article today on a recent report released by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation on the increasing lack of accessibility to elite private colleges and universities. Specifically, it is becoming increasingly harder for transfer students to gain access to the ivory-coated towers of America’s finest institutions of higher education:

Fewer than 1 of every 1,000 students at elite private colleges started at community colleges, the foundation found. More than 40 percent of undergraduates study at community colleges.

It’s not just community college transfers who are having a tougher time getting in, but anyone who started at another institution. In 2002, the proportion of students at elite private colleges who transferred from another institution was 5.7 percent, down from 10.5 percent in 1984, according to the report.

But Cornell, with its mission to educate ‘any person… in any study’ appears to be relatively immune to this worrisome trend...

Matthew Nagowski | June 19, 2006 (#)

Pre$ $korton

Did David Skorton leave the University of Iowa to get paid more in Ithaca?

We've recently come across a story in a local Iowa newspaper that raises some interesting questions.

As reported in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, incoming Cornell president Skorton was paid $367,309 last year in his previous role in Iowa. Because CU is a private school, it does not release salary information. But according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, former prez Jeff Lehman made $675,000 in the 2003-2004 year, so we can assume Skorton will be making something similar.

The highest paid president, according to research done by the paper, was Mary Sue Coleman, at the University of Michigan, earning over $724k. Skorton replaced her at UI.

"A president wouldn't take the position just for the salary, but salary becomes a factor because you don't want to be paid so below your peers that you don't look competent," Van Ummersen, a former chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire and Cleveland State University, told the Press-Citizen.


As we know, the University of Iowa is notoriously known for incubating presidents -- so it makes sense that the Board of Regents there has determined that a "drastic change in the presidential salary" is needed in order to attract the best replacement for Skorton: one who might actually stick around.

Marc Zawel | June 17, 2006 (#) (0)

One Step Behind

Yesterday, we gave editors at The Sun a tough time for sleeping through the summer and failing in their responsibility to inform the Cornell community about important breaking news.

Lo and behold, this morning, Michael Morisy, the paper's managing editor, published a story about prominent alumnus Philip Merrill '55, now presumed dead.

It's unclear why it took The Sun so long to put out a story and why it suddenly appeared today -- but we've got a sneaking suspicion that some of its editors may be readers of MetaEzra.

And while we're flattered that we've been able to rouse them out of their summer slumber, our fingers are crossed that this is the last time that we need to kindly remind them to keep doing the thing that newspapers have an obligation to.

You know, like report the news.

Marc Zawel | June 17, 2006 (#) (0)

Scooping the Sun

Because we're journalists at heart -- and live by the news cycle -- it's hard for us not to be disappointed that the Cornell Sun is truly living up to the proclamation that its editors are on "summer break."

While we certainly don't have expectations for daily updates -- heck, we all need a break every once in a while -- it's been surprising that The Sun's editors haven't taken a couple minutes away from their internship cubicles to bring important news to the school community.

Earlier this week, it was the disappearance -- and now, presumed death -- of alumnus Philip Merrill '55, which you might have read about here at MetaEzra.

Now, we're learning from The Sun's competitor that David A. Schlaegel (back row, third from left) has plead innocent to "first-degree rape in connection with an alleged sexual assault that occurred on campus" back in February. The victim is another University employee. Schlaegel, since barred from campus, is free on bail.

What other big news will break this summer? And will we regrettably have to learn about it from the Ithaca Journal? We hope not.

Marc Zawel | June 16, 2006 (#) (0)

Cornell's Role in Upstate New York

The New York Times is running a sobering article today on Upstate New York's "brain drain" and the exodus of tens of thousands of young and highly educated Upstate New Yorkers from the state to points further south and west. Every single Upstate county lost 25-34 year-olds between 1990 and 2004, except for one:

From 1990 to 2004, all but one of the state's 62 counties recorded a decline in 25-to-34-year-olds, ranging from 1 percent in Manhattan to 42 percent in Tioga.

The sole gainer was neighboring Tompkins County in the Finger Lakes, where Cornell University, Ithaca College and tourism have boosted the job market.
There is no doubt that Cornell's presence in Ithaca and elsewhere across Upstate is a boon to the state's economy and one of the bright spots in an otherwise tepid economic landscape. And Ithaca would look remarkably different were it not for its two educational institutions situated high above Cayuga's waters – just take a drive through any of the other assorted Finger Lakes cities to see the effect for yourself -- most of the Southern Tier in New York State is increasingly looking like Appalaicha. Cornell and Ithaca College attracts students with disposable income, upper-middle class faculty families, and the associated professional and service-oriented workforce. Cornell also facilitates economic development and planning for the region, and is instrumental in TCAT funding, maintaining airport service, and investing in Ithaca's resurgent downtown core.

But how much more could Cornell do to facilitate the Upstate economy? A lot, I tend to think.

Matthew Nagowski | June 13, 2006 (#)

Alumnus Missing

Rescue crews have begun searching the Chesapeake Bay for Philip Merrill '55, whose sailboat was found empty on Sunday by two boaters. The Coast Guard - operating under the assumption that Merrill fell overboard - has dispatched several aircraft and a boat in the search for the 72-year-old Cornell alumnus, who had been sailing alone on Saturday.

Merrill's impressive career has spanned both politics and publishing. Most recently, he was the president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The college of journalism at the University of Maryland is aso named for him.

In Ithaca, Merrill was the managing editor of the Cornell Daily Sun, "where he was known to obsessively mark up the morning paper with a red pencil and dreamed of working at the New York Times", according to the Washington Post. He also established the Merrill Presidential Scholars.

We here at MetaEzra hope for our fellow Cornellians' speedy recovery and will continue to bring you the latest on the search efforts.

UPDATE: We're saddened to learn that search and rescue crews say that it's unlikely that Merrill would have been able to survive an extended period of time like this in 62 degree water. Their operation has changed to recovery. We ask all Cornellians to keep the Merrill family in their thoughts and prayers.

Marc Zawel | June 11, 2006 (#) (0)

Alumni Directories in the 21st Century

I just got off the phone with somebody from Cornell who was calling me on a quest to update my information for the Cornell Alumni Directory. I gladly obliged, and figured it would be useful, especially as I am set to move addresses in a couple of short weeks. We also had a nice little chat about Ithaca, I commented on how I don’t get to go back to Upstate New York nearly as much as I would like.

But at the end of the conversation came the inevitable: I was asked whether or not I wanted to pay $69.95 for my very own bound copy of the directory, to be published by the Cornell Alumni Federation at the end of 2006. I gracefully turned down the offer, explaining that I was a young alumnus without a lot of disposable income (after accounting for my beer money, of course), and that if I ever needed to look up any long-lost Cornellians not on facebook.com, I would probably just head over to the online alumni directory, which is provided by the Alumni Federation free of charge.

But I certainly hope that these are volunteers calling me on behalf of the Alumni Federation, and not paid phone operators. If they are paid, just think of all of the additional resources that could be provided to making the alumni magazine free, or at least free for young alumni. Somehow I suspect that alumni who receive a free alumni magazine might be more likely to update their alumni directory information on their own. Oh, and give more money back to the University too.

Besides, who would ever use a bound directory these days? Doesn’t the alumni federation realize that there is this new great thing known as the Internet that Cornell played no small part in helping to develop?

Matthew Nagowski | June 10, 2006 (#)

Explaining the Achievement Gap

A new working paper released by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute by recent Cornell graduate Marquise McGraw explores a subject that has long been a concern in academia – what factors can help to explain differing academic performance (broadly measured by both propensity to graduate and cumulative GPAs) amongst students of different ethnicities and backgrounds?

The findings, while still preliminary and subject to improvements in both the model and the data, are intriguing.

Matthew Nagowski | June 10, 2006 (#)

The Need For Independent Alumni Media

The Chronicle is reporting on recent University research pertaining to the practice of self-injury among college students and young adults. This is a medical problem that is not nearly addressed enough on college campuses and high schools across the country for its level of prevalence: twenty percent of college females report self-injurious behavior at some point in their college careers. And hopefully, as a result of Cornell's research in this field, less suffering will occur as a result.

Unsurprisingly, a tandem, puff piece is also running on how Cornell provides support to those students who self-injure or demonstrate other types of destructive behavior.

But lest us not forget Cornell's policy towards suicidal students. As a recent Time Magazine article on many university's policies towards suicidal students uncovered: most are asked to take a leave of absence if they exhibit such self-destructive behavior. Which seems reasonable, to me, except for the fact that Cornell seemingly doesn't care about its students once they have left campus. Says the deputy counsel of the university: "Once the student is gone or goes home, the individual becomes the responsibility of parents. Our obligation ends."

A bit harsh, no? And something that the University's bull-horn, the Chronicle, conveniently fails to inform its readers of.

Matthew Nagowski | June 05, 2006 (#)

Alumni Mags & Fundraising

Former Harvard Crimson editor Zachary M. Seward has an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal today about the intersection between college alumni magazines, editorial independence and the demands of fundraising.

At schools around the country, development offices -- concerned that negative news being disseminated to alums through their respective magazines is affecting giving rates -- are creating replacements. In Cambridge, leading fund-raisers "determined that Harvard Magazine was no longer serving their best interests," leading the school's office of alumni affairs and development to create The Yard, the Journal reports.

In response to this pressure, Seward says that "a coalition of alumni magazine editors last year drafted a statement defending their 'respect for truth, fairness, free inquiry and the presentation of competing ideas,' while also recognizing an obligation to 'advance the mission and well-being of their institutions.'"

No word if the Cornell Alumni Magazine was part of this coalition -- or, if the University has been placing similar demands on its editors.

Marc Zawel | June 05, 2006 (#) (0)

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)