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December 2009

University ED Applications Up 5%, Acceptances Down 8%

In a surprising turn of events, the University accepted less early decision applicants this year as compared to last year, this despite a record number of applications and a more uncertain economic climate.

As the New York Times reports, last year the University admitted 1264 of 3405 applicants, which constituted a record number of students, filling over 40 percent of the entering freshman class for the first time in history.

This year, Cornell admitted 1167 of 3579 applicants. So applications were up 5 percent but total acceptances were down 8 percent. The percent of the entering class filled dropped to around 37 percent. The strict acceptance rate also decline from 36 to 32 percent.

Frankly, it's difficult to explain this. Given the current economic climate and the fact that both the target freshmen class size and ED applications increased, I would assume the University would at least want to accept as many students ED as it did last year. Especially given that ED students tend to require less financial aid and that the regular decision pool will probably be the most competitive ever, as some of Cornell's peer schools, like Dartmouth consider expanding their freshmen class size as well.

One possibility is that the quality of the ED applicant pool has diminished, meaning that Cornell need to rely more on regular decision applicants to maintain the academic caliber of the entering class. But more on that later.

Matthew Nagowski | December 28, 2009 (#)

How a Cornellian Almost Becade Fed Chief

I have been reading the excellent 'In Fed We Trust' and was struck to discover that a Cornellian almost became the Chairman of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors:

In the end, Bernake wasn't the unanimous first choice of the committee. He had the intellect and the credentials as well as the respect of his peers, but he seemed, as he often did, nervous in the interviews and had never been tested in a crisis. Friedman had a great interview but would have been a surprise, out-of-the-box choice, and the White House had just seen an out-of-the-box choice for the Supreme Court - White House counsel Hariet Miers - turn into an embarrassment. The committee eventually coalesced around Bernake and recommeneded him to Bush. (83)

Friedman, of course, is none other than Stephen Friedman '55, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and director of the National Economic Council in W.'s White House. He also built the nation's only stand-alone collegiate wrestling center.

Frankly, though, this Cornellian is glad that we ended up with the world's preeminent scholar of the Great Depression instead.

Matthew Nagowski | December 26, 2009 (#)

Why Cornell Needs a College of Public Policy

The Sun is running an excellent article today on the need for Cornell to streamline its programs in the social sciences. The suggested solution from the University's high-level task force: a broadened college of public policy encompassing departments from the Ag School, Human Ecology, and the ILR School.

Sounds familiar.

Yesterday’s public discussion about the task force’s report was well attended, mostly by professors. After discussing the report’s content and answering questions, Harris and Fuchs emphasized the historic changes Cornell is facing.

“We’re really thinking about what Cornell will be like for the young faculty we’re hiring and for generations after that,” Fuchs said. “This is our chance if we want to make changes.”

“This is the time when we’ve got the ear of the provost. This is the time when we can do things,” Harris said.

In addition to recommending the creation of the public policy school, the report includes four possible models for merging social science units and increasing collaboration between units. The models are intended to improve teaching and research in the social sciences and decrease the dispersion across the University.

It seems that both Harris and Fuchs are on board, which means the trustees are on board, which means that the colleges will have little to no say in the matter. The remaining question is whether or not the State of New York will cooperate with the plan if it involves dissolving colleges. My sense is that if Cornell can prove that it will save the state a significant amount of money, there should be no problem, aside from any alumni fallout.

But unless alums are willing to pony up the dough, they will probably have little say in the manner.

I do hope that the result is more ambitious than not. Simply creating a multi-college department, a la statistical science or biology, is unacceptable in my view. While it will help faculty research and graduate education, it will not help the undergraduate experience, which is the soul of the University. The colleges need to be re-arranged to solve the problem of students seeking to get a back-door business education through ILR or PAM.

Matthew Nagowski | December 02, 2009 (#)

Other Recent Posts

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-- Slope Media Revisited (EBilmes)

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