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March 2010

Keeping Donahue in Ithaca?

With the outstanding success of this year's men's basketball team and the universal outpouring of support that the team has received from students, alumni, and the University, the question in everybody's minds is whether or not Coach Donahue will stay in Ithaca.

There's no debate over the fact that Donahue is not only a fantastic basketball coach, but also an incredibly classy mentor for the team and a tremendous role-model for the Cornell community -- the type of guy who can make even a non-sports follower swell with pride.

First, there is Doanhue's support for children and athletes with autism. Second is Donahue's school wide email thanking Cornellians for their "tremendous support throughout the season and into the amazing post-season" and pledging to "look forward to next year's Big Red basketball season!" Then, finally, there was Donahue's abillity to capture the Cornell mantra so succinctly, telling the Times, "We’re the common man’s Ivy League."

But there are a couple of looming problems that could limit Donahue's tenure in Ithaca: money, career prospects, and location.

Unfortunately, the success of big-time athletics often depends on the issue of funding and money, and many schools are willing to pay extravagant salaries to their coaches to ensure a winning tradition. And while multi-million dollar contracts may be the norm for SEC schools that spends ten of millions of dollars per year on their basketball team, that's not the case for the Ivy League, were Cornell spent $800,000 on their basketball team last year. Donahue could easily triple his salary elsewhere.

But even if Cornell decided to match any salary offer Donahue received, it's not clear that it would be worth the investment. Certainly, alumni and students would enjoy continued success in basketball, but that might be at expense of the school's storied hockey program (now programs?). Additionally, research by Cornell economist Robert Frank has demonstrated that additional spending on intercollegiate athletics results in little to no direct or indirect returns for colleges, in what essentially ends up being a zero-sum arms race.

Because, really, are you going to donate more money to Cornell this year on account of a Sweet Sixteen trip? If so, let the theatre department know as soon as possible before they are forced to cut more faculty. I'm talking about you, Sandy Weill:

“I graduated 55 years ago from Cornell, so I’ve waited a long time to see them do this well,” Weill said in a telephone interview today. “Everyone I’ve spoken to in relation to the school, here and abroad, says it’s a wake-up call for pride in our institution.”

Secondly, if Coach Donahue is serious about climbing the ranks of college basketball and becoming more successful, he will probably have to start coaching in a different league than the Ivies. It's not by accident that only one Ivy team has made it to the Sweet Sixteen from the Ivies in the last thirty years -- it is by design. The Ivy President's purposefully want the the league to be composed of student-athletes, and disallow any of the recruiting or frills that are bestowed upon players in other leagues. So the Ivy League simply will not have the talent to compete at a national stage year-in, year-out.

Finally, there's the acknowledgment that Donahue is a Philly boy "born and raised" and wants to move his family closer to the East Coast. And, well, the needs of family often trump all other considerations.

But let's hope that Donahue will give strong consideration to staying part of the Big Red Family. Because, well, more more money and additional success/pressure isn't everything in life. And USAirways flies direct from Philly to Ithaca.

Matthew Nagowski | March 27, 2010 (#)

Sweet Sixteen Ruminations

Well, after last week, we sorta kinda needed this.

Anybody else find it slightly ironic that had Fran Dunphy not taken the coaching position at Temple, Penn might not have experienced its fall from grace, and Cornell would never have made it to the tournament?

Speaking of Penn (and Princeton), their fans must be experiencing a certain level of consternation right now. Sure, an NCAA win was great for the Big Red. But two? Both those schools have been trying for thirty years to get back to the Sweet Sixteen. It would be akin to Yale winning the Frozen Four.

And speaking of hockey, how about the ladies? And the men too. And the precociousness of freshmen National Champion Kyle Dake? Wow.

If you're honestly using this site for sports news, you probably came to the wrong place. Go here. Or here. And I would still absolutely love to know the brains behind the Cornell Basketball Blog. The most I know so far is that he graduated in the 1990s and has way too much time on his hands.

I wonder who Biddy Martin was rooting for on Saturday. She never struck me as the biggest fan of athletics, so hopefully she was supporting the true scholar-athletes. Maybe not ostensibly, but deep down in her heart.

How great is the match-up against Kentucky? An absolutely epic storyline, a team of amateurs against a couple of future pros who happen to play together, Mark Coury transferring from Kentucky to Cornell for academic reasons because he saw Cornell play in the same game in which his teammates made fun of the Big Red.

It's all tailor-made for stories like this one in the USA Today:

As of 2009, 13 former Kentucky Wildcats owned NBA championship rings,

As of 2009, three Cornell alums owned professional sports franchises.

Perhaps the NC$$ purposely underseeded Cornell and gave the team two winnable games against Temple and Wisconsin just to get more media attention. Nah. They wouldn't be that smart.

If Cornell was smart, they would do everything humanely possible to keep Donahue in Ithaca.

You know who else is smart? Eitan Cherminski:

At the bar on Sunday a bunch of stood up and sang the Alma Mater and Davey. The 'regulars' looked at us queerly. We didn't care.

Matthew Nagowski | March 22, 2010 (#)

Far Rings the Glory

Hockey is in the ECAC Finals,women beat No. 1 seed Mercyhurst in overtime to play for the National Championship on Sunday.

Oh and then there was this little footnote to history:

Never again will we have to hear that Princeton and Penn are the only schools that can field respectable basketball teams in the League. And Penn still can't be bothered to lace up a hockey team.

Matthew Nagowski | March 19, 2010 (#)

Developing a Community; Redefining the Cornell Experience

It's been an exhausting week for the Cornell community. We have gone from chiding the Law School's use of a fictional character to mourning the loss of six students to suicide this year and attracting national media attention for our renewed reputation as a suicide school.

On Monday I wrote that Cornell is not doing anything wrong, but it could be doing more right." and on Tuesday I suggested that despite an unnecessary media focus on the mythology of gorge suicide (as opposed to the statistical fact that Cornell has not had a historical 'suicide problem' that Cornell will no doubt redouble it efforts to increase mental health awareness on campus, something it is already nationally recognized for. There are certainly things that Cornell can do to further limit this type of horrible situation.

But listening to NPR today, we learn that "Cornell has set the gold standard" in suicide prevention and "has done as much as it can do" from a psychiatry professor at the University of Chicago, Dr. Morton Silverman. At the same time we also learn that the administration is considering higher railings around the bridges.

So has Cornell done 'as much as it can do'?

Certainly taller railings might be a deterrent, and even stronger mental health campaigns may work, but I would like to focus on whether or not Cornell can structurally change its educational institutions to foster a more caring, integrated community. Not so much as a means of a suicide prevention, but in making certain that every student can find a supportive community on campus.

This is important. Readers should take note that I am not suggesting more 'community development' initiatives that offer free ice cream socials on Friday nights or seminars on anti-discrimination. That's wasted money, as far as I am concerned. I am suggesting a more concrete, structural overhaul to the way that Cornell undergraduates learn, interact, and play.

Suggestions include:

-- Require all underclassmen to live in the same dorm for freshman and sophomore years, delaying Greek rush until spring of sophomore year. This will help to create a sense of tradition and "place" to the residence halls, and allow sophomores and some upperclassmen to mentor and guide first-year students. After living on campus in the same community for two years, students will have a much better sense of where they would like their upperclassmen years to take them, whether that be joining the Greek system, living in a co-op, renting an off-campus apartment, or continuing to live on campus.

-- Seriously consider changes to the academic calendar, including elimination of the nighttime prelim schedule and recognition of federal holidays. Exams can be scheduled in class or during a midterm week; nighttime exams unnecessarily impede upon extracurricular activities, which are a vital part of the Cornell experience. If professors complain about less teaching time, expand the academic calendar by three days in August and May. Students aren't going to complain about additional time in Ithaca when the weather is nice.

-- Develop a more common educational experience for all undergraduates. The Provost mentioned this in his address to the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference in January, but implementing a University wide core curriculum for freshman yea, before students affiliate with different colleges, would help to build a stronger sense of community and put less pressure on students to worry about their major first-semester freshman year.

-- Increased focus on public engagement and hands-on service learning. The strategic plan talks a lot about this, and it would certainly benefit a Cornell student, both socially and morally, to develop a meaningful classroom experience, outside of the classroom, engaging more broadly within the Ithaca, New York State, national, and international communities.

-- Continue to develop a winning tradition for both the basketball and hockey teams. Because nothing beats the winter blues more than beating Harvard six times in one season.

There's obviously more that can be done, and some is more realistic than others, but it's definitely a start. I would be interested to hear your thoughts. I can be reached at editor@metaezra.com.

Matthew Nagowski | March 18, 2010 (#)

The Need For Facts, Not Mythology, On Suicides

The major problem with the recent attention that Cornell has received from the national media over the recent, tragic, student deaths has been that the media has focused on the Cornellian mythology of suicide, and not actual facts. In fact, in most cases, they seek to bury the facts and trump the mythology, no doubt to gain more readership, and advertising revenue.

Take, for instance, the case of the Inside HigherEd article published today that follows Cornell's attempt to dispel its image as a 'suicide school':

Of all the things Cornell University wants to be known for, suicide isn’t among them. And yet, after years of trying to shake the image that it’s a “suicide school,” as one official called it Monday, recent deaths have made it difficult not to associate the upstate New York institution with an above-average suicide rate.

Nowhere in the opening sentences is it stated (nor even suggested) that Cornell does not have an above average suicide rate. It may have above average suicide publicity, but statistic after statistic shows that Cornell does not have any more suicides than would be expected for a given population of college students.

So in lieu of fact, the reporters cite mythology, to further cement the connection in the reader's brain.

And then to add insult to injury, the actual facts of the matter are buried farther into the article, but further seeds of doubt are planted (my emphasis is added in bold):

“It’s well known that Cornell has a reputation as a ‘suicide school,’ which is not consistent with the reality of the statistics,” Marchell said. “And so we’ve asked ourselves, well, what leads to this, what contributes to that misperception?”

His answer: the gorges. “Suicide that occurs in most communities is not something that happens in public, is not visible,” he said, noting that news media often don’t report on suicides because they happen privately and there are often concerns about copycat suicides.

It's unclear whether the university considers the rash of suicides as working out to about average over the last few suicide-free years, or an indication that something is systemically wrong at Cornell.

Thankfully an alumnus sets the record straight in the comments section:

Other institutions without similar "attractive nuisances" usually escape public attention when suicides occur among their students. The reason? Those tragedies generally take place behind closed doors on private property, such as residence halls, Greek houses or off-campus apartments. Although information about such deaths will undoubtedly circulate, the audiences tends to be much smaller; in addition, the media does not have ready access to information or to the scene.

Since leaving Cornell, I have worked with two other institutions that each endured one or more significant "suicide clusters" like the one Cornell appears to be experiencing now. Two of those clusters involved more student deaths than the number of losses Cornell has suffered: In one case, nine died in 18 months; in the other, and there were seven deaths in 10 months. In both situations the clusters took place on small campuses with less than one-tenth the enrollment of Cornell--thus making their suicide-per-capita ratios far higher than Cornell's. Yet not a single one of these 16 suicides on the other campuses was noted in any local media, aside from some losses being included in local obituaries.

So why did those other institutions not get the "suicide school" notoriety that Cornell has? Simple: All of their deaths occurred behind closed doors on campus property. While friends and classmates were certainly impacted by the losses and undoubtedly some fellow students availed themselves of campus resources and support services, news of the deaths just didn't travel very far. (The lack of "buzz" also had one particularly unfortunate consequence: It took the administrators of those other institutions longer to discern the troubling "cluster" patterns and to take action.)

Unfortunately, however, the article ran in USA Today, without the above-mentioned comment.

So here's what we know:

Statistics can tell you a lot more than anecdotes. And the fact is that suicide is a "stunningly common" way for people of this age to die. It's the second leading cause of death for young adults and that over long periods of time, Cornell has not had a suicide rate outside of the national average. Just because you hear about these tragic incidents more often because of their shockingly public nature doesn't mean that Cornell is afflicted by any more suicides than any other top school. In fact, for the last couple of years there were no student suicides.

The recent string of deaths has been an absolute tragedy, and unfortunately sometimes lightening strikes more than once, especially given the contagion nature of this sort of behavior. And Cornell will no doubt redouble it efforts to increase mental health awareness on campus, something it is already nationally recognized for. There are certainly things that Cornell can do to further limit this type of horrible situation.

But erroneously suggesting that Cornell is a "suicide school" or placing blame on Cornell as an institution for the unexplainable is not going to help matters at all.

Matthew Nagowski | March 16, 2010 (#)

The Specter of Suicide

Rob Fishman '08 has adopted his masters thesis on the mythology of Cornell's suicides into an article on the Huffington Post. It includes a detailed, historical account of suicides on Cornell's campus including the ageless debate as to whether or not the presence of the gorges themselves, all things equal, encourages students to take their own life:

From very early on, the specter of suicide haunted Ithaca's gorges. In 1889, an engineering student named Edward Wyckoff drew up plans for a suspension bridge to span the northern gorge, Fall Creek. When a professor failed his proposal, Wyckoff angrily withdrew from the university, and, as legend had it, threw himself into the ravine. In fact, Wyckoff never jumped, and a decade later financed the bridge's construction himself. His erstwhile instructor was vindicated, however, when a replacement was installed in 1961. Still, the rather tenuous bridge remains steeped in mythology: it's said a kiss shared at midnight will portend certain marriage, while one unreturned will collapse the bridge entirely...

In 1764, Immanuel Kant speculated that anyone who beholds "deep gorges with raging streams in them wastelands lying deep in shadow and inviting melancholy meditation, and so on is indeed seized by amazement bordering on terror, by horror and sacred thrill." Under such circumstances, thought Kant, a man would be "diminished to insignificance," seeing only the "misery, peril, and distress that would compass the man who was thrown to its mercy." As his subjects contemplated the downstream abyss, Siegel noted, the thought of suicide was eerily comforting.

At bottom, the question for Cornell is not whether the gorges afford a dangerous outlet for the disconsolate or disturbed (by all accounts, they do). It's if, absent the gorges, some of the suicides could be avoided. Common sense suggests, as one official told the Times in 1994, "if you put a barrier up on a bridge, that people won't die from that bridge. Even if barriers were installed, people could just go somewhere else." That's the same thing people said about the Golden Gate Bridge, until a landmark 1978 study proved otherwise..

Meanwhile, over at The Sun, comments are piling up over what can be done to prevent further student suicides. Opinions tend to fall within two camps: 1) that the University needs to be a better job of "protecting the gorges" through 24/7 security, higher railings, and camera surveillance, or, 2) that the gorges are not the problem, but that the University could try to do more to make certain that all students feel like they are a part of the greater Cornell community and have adequate on-campus support to deal with academic, social, family, or health pressures.

Longtime readers will no doubt surmise that I fall in the second camp. To me, the aesthetic appeal of the gorges and campus should not be sacrificed for perceived safety. (Although maybe covered bridges with windows would look pretty?) But I think it's clear that the diverse and dynamic nature of the student experience at Cornell makes it more of a challenge for some students to find their place on East Hill, and more supportive structures can be put in place to make the tricky road of late-stage adolescence more navigable for all. Cornell is not doing anything wrong, but it can be doing more right.

Matthew Nagowski | March 15, 2010 (#)

Matthew Zika '11

In the spring of 2003, the campus experienced a similar string of tragic deaths, and a lot of students were upset that the University wasn't more proactive in their response to the situation. This time President Skorton is being direct and to the point:

President David Skorton sent an e-mail to the Cornell community Friday night that struck a much more personal and urgent tone than his previous announcements.

"Your well being is the foundation on which your success is built. You are not alone," he said in the e-mail. "Your friends, your family, your teachers, your colleagues, and an array of counselors and advisors are ready to listen and help you through whatever you are facing. If you learn anything at Cornell, please learn to ask for help. It is a sign of wisdom and strength."

Meanwhile, Elie asks if the Engineering School is going to reconsider its curriculum. But that's a bit premature, as we have no clue as to the circumstances surrounding the tragedies of the last two days.

Matthew Nagowski | March 13, 2010 (#)

Deputy Provost Harris To Obama Administration

As we hinted at yesterday, David Harris will be leaving Cornell next month. As the Sun reports:

Deputy Provost David Harris has been appointed to a new position in the Obama Administration and will vacate his Cornell post on Mar. 19, he confirmed to The Sun Friday.

Harris will serve as the deputy assistant secretary for human services policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Office of Human Services policy “focuses on welfare, poverty, service delivery issues, data for research, policies affecting children, youth, and families, and economic matters affecting the [HHS], according to its website.

Harris will specifically be working on improving the effectiveness of the federal government's anti-poverty programs, no doubt due to his interest in the persistence of poverty among minority groups. It's an interesting time to be in the field, as the Obama administration has recently started publishing new definitions of poverty.

This is certainly an excellent opportunity for Harris, but no doubt a significant blow to the University. By all accounts, Harris was held in high esteem both in Ithaca and across academia. And he has spearheaded the University's goal to strengthen and unify its fragmented social science units. So his leadership would have been welcome as the 'Reimagining' project moves towards its implementation phase.

We'll hopefully be featuring a conversation with Harris before he begins in D.C., but until then, readers can read our two-part interview with him from two years ago.

Matthew Nagowski | March 12, 2010 (#)

William Sinclair '12

The folks over at the Cornell Review have done an honorable job covering yet another tragic loss:

But Cornellians this year don’t need to read past the first paragraph. As one student at the scene this afternoon succinctly put it, “didn’t this just happen?” Sinclair brings the fatality count up to 11 – 11 emails about knowing, helping, and remembering. With all male victims, this year has been wrought with sadness. “I do want to acknowledge the toll we all may be experiencing from repeated losses already this year,” Skorton added in his email address to the Cornell community.

Physics professor Robert E. Thorne reflected upon the loss to his students this evening by sending an email delaying the week’s assignment and allowing students time to come to terms with the loss. “I knew William as a curious, warm and gentle person of great promise. This is a terrible loss.” Thorne went on to tell the Review via email that “unfortunately, [that] does little justice to the person he was.” Sinclair, who lived in Maryland, took several courses in engineering outside of his major that interested him – namely computer science and physics.

Matthew Nagowski | March 12, 2010 (#)

Significant Departure in Store

Not a month after the announced departures of Doris Davis and James Walsh, MetaEzra can confirm another significant departure from the ranks of Cornell's senior administrators.

Expect to hear the announcement by tomorrow afternoon. But we'll provide a hint to our longtime readers: This administrator has been featured prominently on this blog before.

Matthew Nagowski | March 11, 2010 (#)

Reputation and Humor

Given that the Law School is spinning their 'Andy Bernard' ad as a way to demonstrate that 'they don't take themselves too seriously', and that I have been likened elsewhere in the blogosphere to the crazy uncle that nobody quite likes for not having a sense of humor, I think it's important to distinguish between the relative merits of reputation and humor. (And also between actual opinion and attention-getting, hyperbole-laced blog titles.)

While Andy Bernard is a humorous character, unfortunately there isn't anything very endearing to his personality. His fictional associations with Cornell paint the University in a light of both arrogance and ignorance. Nothing about his values channel the University's traditions of 'elite without being elitest', 'freedom and responsibility', 'any person... any study", or a 'private institution with a public mission'.

And nothing about him suggests the Law School's tagline of 'Lawyers in the Best Sense'. (Unless of course, the Law School is now interested in producing ambulance chasers, which would be a pretty good occupation for Andy.)

As Homer Simpson once wisely said, "It's funny because it's true." And the dirty little secret is that there is more than a glint of truth to the character of Andy Bernard -- the writers for The Office didn't pull the material out of thin air.

A healthy minority of Cornellians like to blindly brag about their association with a certain athletic conference, their difficult coursework in one of the applied social science departments of the Ag School, or their parties, that quite frankly, are meek relative to what you might find in the Big Ten on any given Saturday. So I can think of a handful of my peers who fit the 'Nard Dog role pretty damn well.

And I don't know about you, but that's not something I really want to advertise. It would be akin to Princeton advertising their ridiculously status-conscious bicker process, or Dartmouth prominently featuring its beer-soaked party scene, on Harvard reveling in the fact that is a soulless corporate bureaucracy focused solely on money (with a crappy hockey team, to boot).

So by all means, let's have a sense of humor about ourselves. And let's poke fun of our own bourgeois attitudes. But let's keep it to the pages of the Cornell Lunatic and not in public as a recruitment tool. Especially for a professional school that leans heavily upon its own reputation -- as opposed to research or scientific contributions -- for its success.

We can save the weather for our front page jokes.

Matthew Nagowski | March 11, 2010 (#)

Somebody at the Law School Needs to be Fired

More here.

Late Update: For those of you who don't quite understand the problem with this (beyond the fact that the 'Nard Dog has no ties to the Law School), Andy Bernard is like the uncle in your family that nobody quite likes. You can laugh at him in the presence of good friends, and smirk at him in the presence of polite company. But you don't bring him up unless asked.

Matthew Nagowski | March 09, 2010 (#)

Rethinking the Admissions Process

With the planned departure of Doris Davis as the associate provost for admissions and enrollment in conjunction with the continued 'Reimagining Cornell' process, it is definitely time to rethink the University's admissions process.

One of the more provocative ideas surrounding admissions options was floated by Kent Fuchs at the Cornell Alumni Leadership Conference in January, where he suggested that freshman should be only accepted to the University at large, and not affiliate with an undergraduate college until their sophomore year.

This would centralize the admissions process, make the Cornell educational experience more flexible, and not force students to prematurely choose their academic path. There are a lot of students applying to Cornell who cannot clearly communicate why they would like to study nutrition over biology or ILR over AEM. But it would also arguably dilute the quality of the experience in some of the more cohesive colleges on campus, namely Architecture, Hotel, and Engineering.

Another option would be to make the Cornell application process itself more dynamic and engaging, even if this means making it harder to apply to Cornell. (In my view, that would be a feature, not a bug.) Right now, the University is asking one lame supplemental question per college as past of the Common Application.

Nowhere in the application process is the University trying to excite students about the intellectual riches that await them in Ithaca, nor is it trying to uniquely brand itself or its student body. By contrast, Northwestern asks its students about the research they have conducted and Tufts asks students to ponder 'Are we alone?', while also giving them the opportunity to submit their own YouTube video.

So how about a distinctly Cornellian essay prompt about 'Freedom and Responsibility' or public outreach and engagement?

One of my big complaints about the admissions office under Davis was that it was too numbers focused -- not in terms of SAT scores and GPA (that's another story) -- but in terms of applications received, acceptance rate, and other rather trivial metrics. See, for example, the article in the Chronicle about Davis's depature:

Since 2000, the university has streamlined the application process, increased student diversity, become more selective in admitting students and accepted more international students than ever; it has implemented an online application review process, enhanced its work with community-based organizations to specifically target low-income students and improved financial aid.

At the same time, Cornell continues to attract more students. More than 36,000 students applied for 3,150 places in the Class of 2014, a new high.

"I am proud of the enormous success we've had in increasing admissions applications to Cornell -- applications have increased over 65 percent since my arrival," said Davis."

Now's the opportunity to make the Cornell admissions process a distinctly Cornellian one. Even if it means our acceptance rate would go up, we need to ensure that we are attracting the right types of students for Cornell.

Matthew Nagowski | March 07, 2010 (#)

Cornell Victorious, The Champions of All!


No matter what happens in the NCAA tournament, I can't emphasize enough what a pleasure it has been to follow this team over the last four years. Their stories -- from an out of nowhere Jon Jaques to a local boy done good in Jeff Foote -- are enough to make any Cornellian proud. Their talent and character, both on and off the court, will far ring the story of the glory of Cornell.

Two memories of mine stand out in particular:

The first was at a basketball game in Allston four years ago, when I convinced a couple of friends that our basketball team was worth seeing. We ended up seeing a nerve-wracking, buzzer-haunting, one point loss, but not before we could tell that Cornell has something special in Louis Dale and Ryan Wittman. (And, not coincidentally, before I got into a heckling match with a bunch of eight-year old Crimson fans. The only fans fair Harvard seemed to be able to attract that night.)

The second was attending the home game against Columbia this past January, when I somehow found myself standing next to Jeff Foote after the game. Sweat was still dripping off of his forehead and I was a bit intimidated by the fact that he seemed twice as massive as I was, but Jeff just has an awesome grin on his face.

Congratulations to the Big Red Basketball team for all of your accomplishments, past, present, and future.

Matthew Nagowski | March 06, 2010 (#)

The Sun Interviews Fuchs

Sam Cross asks all the right questions in his interview with the Provost:

Sun: Some of the task force reports mentioned a decrease in the number of higher level courses because of fewer faculty members. Is this going to be a trend?

K.F.: We’re hoping not to shrink the faculty any more than we already have. My higher priority is to keep the faculty size at its current level, and even to regrow it. You’re right, if we have to balance the budget by reducing faculty, then that does mean fewer courses, particularly electives. Our hope is that we can avoid that. We don’t yet know if we can do that, but we hope to not have to shrink the faculty any more. That’s why we’re trying to attain $90 million of administrative savings.

Sun: Many of the task force reports discuss possible mergers among colleges. Have there been further developments on the feasibility of these plans?

K.F.: For some, yes, and for some, no. For example, the College of Engineering was proposing a possibility of a combined science. It’s unlikely we’re going to do that. We are, however, discussing whether AEM should become a school and whether there should be a school of environment, both [of which were] proposed by CALS.

Sun: It seems odd that AEM is in CALS.

K.F.: The AEM major is a highly ranked major for undergraduate business, but we also have management programs in the Hotel School, the Johnson School and some business in ILR; Engineering has a masters in management, so we’re trying to decide how we can be best organized around management.

Sun: Are you planning to create a school of public policy, and if so, will it be built out of one of our current schools?

K.F.: That’s going to be a big decision and we don’t know yet.

Sun: Is the College of Arts and Sciences — especially the government or economics departments — playing a role in the school of public policy?

K.F.: It will. We’re not yet ready to bring in all of the colleges because I’ve asked a couple of deans to think about it. The Arts College, because of its breadth, has some type of impact, whether it’s social sciences or economics.

Sun: How will such major changes in the University structure impact the budget model?

K.F.: That’s why I’m such a big supporter of changing the budget model. If we pool undergraduate tuition, we can make it easier to pull down barriers between colleges, at least from a student’s perspective. For colleges, we have to ensure that we don’t create negative incentives that will make them compete with each other.

In another interesting tidbit, apparently the Policy Analysis and Management program in Human Ecology has decided to rename itself 'Public Policy', perhaps trying to distance itself from the pre-business crowd.

Matthew Nagowski | March 02, 2010 (#)

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)