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Sparsing the Strategic Plan

Last week the University released it's strategic plan to "position Cornell as a leader in the 21st century". It's filled with a lot of nebulous wishes, but also some explicit goals.

After MetaEzra finishes digesting all of these wonderful talking points, Andy and I are going to plan on releasing our own strategic vision for Cornell. Expect it to be bold and a bit ambitious.

While it's rather long, and MetaEzra encourages all interested parties to read it in full, we have pulled out some choice quotes on themes and issues that are near and dear to our heart. Enjoy!

Public support of higher education

The costs of higher education continue to rise to support innovative education, research, and scholarship, which require state-of-the-art facilities, robust infrastructure, competitive salaries, and more services and amenities for students. As a percent of total expenditures, the government's share has failed to keep pace with costs; universities are, therefore, increasingly dependent on private funding and on tuition, over which they have considerable control.

As is true for other institutions of higher education, Cornell must seek new revenue sources to avoid unsustainable tuition increases and/or limits to student access and to faculty and student achievement.

Nurture relationships with New York State and SUNY to serve Cornell's interests and those of higher education and economic prosperity in the state.

Role in Upstate New York

The university can be an even better partner in community and economic development in upstate New York. Similarly, maintaining the unique quality of our programs requires consistent and predictable support from partnering state and local agencies.

In partnership with the local community, ensure that Ithaca remains a vibrant place to live and work, with emphasis on affordable housing and accessible transportation for faculty, staff, and students.

Take advantage of Cornell's unique role in New York State and beyond and seek new ways to link research advances with economic development through technology transfer, business start-ups, corporate relations, investments in the community, and consultation with community leaders and government officials.

Maximize the opportunity of a new state administration to enhance Cornell's relationship with the state and with key political figures and solidify Cornell as a New York State higher education leader in research, outreach, instruction, and public policy development.

Pre-professionalism on campus

Public demand to prepare undergrduates to enter the job market with defined skills has created a need to provide pre-professional education in the curriculum that competes with the traditions of a liberal arts education, especially in exposure to the humanities and arts.

Work with college deans (and, when appropriate, external evaluators) on regular and substantial curricular review of every academic department and program and careful study of teaching requirements, teaching loads, and the evaluation of teaching.


Place 25 fields in the top ten National Research Council (NRC) rankings by 2015, while placing every professional school in the top ten in its relevant ranking. (In the 1995 NRC rankings, 19 graduate fields ranked in the top ten. Four of our professional schools or programs currently rank first or second.)

Social Sciences

Sustain existing strengths in applied social science departments and in specific subfields in the basic social sciences, while enhancing the quality and reputation of the social sciences overall through coordinated, strategic faculty recruitments over the next five years. Focus near-term efforts on the fields of economics and government.

ILR seeks to partner with other colleges on coordinated and strategic faculty recruitments to sustain strength in the applied social sciences and enhancing the quality and reputation of the social sciences, while increasing the engagement of ILR faculty in key social and economic policy issues, generate more grant funding for research on policy issues, and enhance the external visibility of that policy engagement and research.

Alumni Relations and Communications

Focus effective university-wide public relations and a broad range of media activities on the breadth and quality of Cornell University.

Nurture life-long relationships with Cornell alumni, and provide them with opportunities for life-long learning.
Meet or exceed the campaign goal of $4 billion for established priorities by December 31, 2011, with an emphasis on the Ithaca campus goal of $3 billion. Create an organization that is able to [raise money at the amount of ] $500 million per year post campaign (FY2012 and beyond).

Present Cornell's breadth and depth to the public through all media. The tools of communication are changing rapidly. Niche communications increasingly dominate and, to some extent, determine today's targets of opportunity. Cornell must reach its audiences using every medium available. The development of "Cornell Television" will allow Cornell content to be sent out regionally, nationally, or globally.


Commence construction of Paul Milstein Hall in 2008, with expected completion by 2010. Transition into construction phase will include full occupancy of AAP's Esty Street facility as well as strategies for maximum use of Rand and Sibley Halls.

Complete William H. Gates Hall as the signature building for a planned information complex, housing Computer Science and Information Science. Foster the notion that Cornell's Faculty of CIS is among the top two colleges of computing and information by reputation.

Maintain a beautiful, historic campus that meets contemporary academic needs by continuing to implement and update our long-range capital plan, which includes, in the near term, completion of the physical sciences complex, construction of a new humanities building adjacent to Goldwin Smith Hall, and completion of the restoration of the historic Stone Row.

Renovate facilities, beginning with Olin Library, to support the evolving needs of current and future learners and researchers.

Student life and diversity

Provide opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to participate together in intellectual, spiritual, social, cultural, athletic, and service activities. Create and sustain an environment that promotes personal growth and discovery, the pursuit of healthy minds and bodies, and engagement in a caring community.

Faculty Retention

Address the significant number of retirements of faculty and staff anticipated in the next decade by supporting strategic efforts to hire and retain the best faculty, with particular attention to the targeted areas listed above. Ensure that hiring and tenure processes become even more transparent and effective.


The College of Engineering seeks to recruit, retain, and enable a diverse community of exceptional faculty and students with a goal of attaining 35% undergraduate women and 10% undergraduate under-represented minorities (URMs); 30% graduate women and 7% graduate URMs; and 20% faculty women and 7% faculty URMs.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on May 23, 2008 (#)

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