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Skorton Recommits Cornell to Land Grant Mission

With the University's budget (and priorities) in a state of flux due to the ongoing fiscal tsunami, it is reassuring to hear President Skorton make continued commitments to Cornell's historic relationship with the State of New York and its role as a land grant institution.

In his open forum with staff regarding ongoing budget challenges, Skorton really hits this point home:

When asked how the economy is affecting the university's relationship with the State University of New York (SUNY) system, Skorton said that state cuts, Cornell's fiscal adjustments and SUNY's budget issues make for a difficult situation, but "regardless of funding I will not walk away from our relationship with the state, because we're not the state's land-grant university only if we receive $170 million. We're the land-grant university -- period."

And the same sentiment is reiterated in a press release touting Cornell as an economic engine for the State:

"As one of the state's leading entrepreneurial universities with a $2.8 billion budget, Cornell is a critical resource in this period of economic upheaval to help the state to financial recovery," Cornell President David J. Skorton said. "Even while we're making fiscal adjustments to deal with the current economic situation, Cornell is the economic engine that supports our community as we continue to be a leading economic engine for the state.

But I think the most interesting quote is found in a recent interview with the Alumni Magazine, where Skorton positions Cornell as uniquely able to lead the state, country, and the world out of the depths of the current crisis:

Skorton also believes that the current crisis offers an opportunity for Cornell to play an important role in the economic recovery—and beyond. "We have the assets to be extraordinarily helpful as the community, the state, and the country dig out from their problems," he says. "Isn't this one of the places where we ought to be tackling the thorniest problems? What other entities in society have this breadth of expertise and inquiry? This is our time to be part of the answer to problems that don't just go away."

Skorton has started to provide the visionary language needed to lead and inspire, but it remains to be seen just what type of strategic changes are in store that will serve to "reconfigure" the University to face our collective challenges.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on March 19, 2009 (#)

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