Cornell University

Cornell University
Cornell University
The Cornell University Emblem
Emblem of Cornell University
Motto "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."
-Ezra Cornell, 1865[1]
Established 1865
Type Private with 14 colleges and schools, including 4 statutory colleges
Endowment $5.28 billion[2]
President David J. Skorton
Provost W. Kent Fuchs
Academic staff 1,639 Ithaca
1,235 New York City
34 Qatar
Students 20,939[3]
Undergraduates 13,935 Ithaca[3]
Postgraduates 7,004 Ithaca[3]
865 New York City
135 Qatar[4]
Location United States Ithaca, NY, USA
Campus Small city, 745 acres (3.0 km²)
Colors Carnelian, White
Athletics NCAA Division I Ivy League
Nickname Big Red
Mascot Unofficial mascot is a bear sometimes named "Touchdown"[5]
Affiliations Ivy League, AAU
The Cornell University Logo

Cornell University (pronounced /kɔrˈnɛl/ kor-nel) is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions.[6] Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's motto, an 1865 Ezra Cornell quotation: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."[1] Since its founding, Cornell has also been a co-educational, non-sectarian institution where admission is offered irrespective of religion or race.

The university is broadly organized into seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions at its main Ithaca campus, with each college and division defining its own admission standards and academic programs in near autonomy. The university also administers two satellite medical campuses, one in New York City and one in Education City, Qatar. Cornell is one of two private land grant universities,[note 1] and its seven undergraduate colleges include three private, state-supported statutory or contract colleges. As a land grant college, it also operates a cooperative extension outreach program in every county of New York.

Cornell counts more than 255,000 living alumni, 31 Marshall Scholars, 28 Rhodes Scholars and 41 Nobel laureates as affiliated with the university.[4][7][8] The student body consists of nearly 14,000 undergraduate and 7,000 graduate students from all 50 states and 122 countries.[9]



Cornell University was founded on April 27, 1865 as the result of a New York State (NYS) Senate bill that named the university as the state's land grant institution. Senator Ezra Cornell offered his farm in Ithaca, New York as a site and $500,000 of his personal fortune as an initial endowment. Fellow senator and experienced educator Andrew Dickson White agreed to be the first president. During the next three years, White oversaw the construction of the initial two buildings and traveled around the globe to attract students and faculty.[10] The university was inaugurated on October 7, 1868, and 412 men were enrolled the next day.The school opened on October 4, 1898 in the Loomis Laboratory facilities. Since that time, Cornell's medical school has operated in Manhattan.[11][not in citation given]

Cornell's founders

Cornell continued to be a technological innovator applying its research to its own campus as well as to outreach efforts. For example, it was one of the first university campuses to use electricity to light the grounds from a water-powered dynamo in 1883.[12] Since 1894, Cornell has included state-funded statutory colleges and has also administered research and extension activities that have been jointly funded by state and federal matching funds.[citation needed] Cornell has had an active alumni since its earliest classes and was one of the first universities to included alumni-elected representatives on its Board of Trustees.[note 2]

"Cornell University" by renowned landscape artist Richard Rummell (1848-1924), circa 1910. [13]

Cornell expanded significantly, particularly since World War II, with its student population in Ithaca growing to its current count of about 20,000 students. The faculty also expanded, and by the century's end, the university had more than 3,400 faculty members.[citation needed][note 3] The school also increased its breadth of course offerings. Today the university has wide-ranging programs and offers more than 4,000 courses.[14] Cornell received national attention in April 1969 when African American students occupied Willard Straight Hall in protest over alleged racism.[15][16] The crisis resulted in the resignation of President James A. Perkins and the restructuring of university governance.[17]

Since 2000, Cornell has been expanding its international programs. In 2004, the university opened the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the first American medical school outside of the United States.[18] It continues to forge partnerships with major institutions in India, Singapore, and the People's Republic of China.[19][20][21] The university, with its high international profile, claims to be "the first transnational university".[22][not in citation given] On March 9, 2004, Cornell and Stanford laid the cornerstone for a new Bridging the Rift Center located on the Israel–Jordan border.[23]


Ithaca campus

Sage Chapel, a non-denominational chapel on campus that is the final resting place of the university's founders, among others

Cornell's main campus is on East Hill in Ithaca, New York, overlooking the town and Cayuga Lake. When the university was founded in 1865, the campus consisted of 209.5 acres (0.85 km²) of Ezra Cornell's roughly 300 acre (1.2 km²) farm.[not in citation given] Since then, it has swelled to about 745 acres (3.0 km²), encompassing both the hill and much of the surrounding areas.[24] Some 260 university buildings are divided primarily between Central and North Campuses on the plateau of the Hill, West Campus on its slope, and Collegetown immediately south of Central Campus.[24][not in citation given] Central Campus has laboratories, administrative buildings, and almost all of the campus' academic buildings, athletic facilities, auditoriums, and museums. The only remaining residential facility on Central Campus is the Law School's dormitory, Hughes Hall. North Campus contains freshman and graduate student housing, themed program houses, and 29 fraternity and sorority houses. West Campus has upperclass residential colleges and an additional 25 fraternity and sorority houses.[25][not in citation given] Collegetown contains two upperclass residence halls[26][27] and the Schwartz Performing Arts Center amid a neighborhood of apartments, eateries, and businesses.[28]

The main campus is marked by an irregular layout and eclectic architectural styles, including ornate Collegiate Gothic, Victorian, Neoclassical buildings, and less decorative international and modernist structures. The more ornate buildings generally predate World War II. Because the student population doubled from 7,000 in 1950 to 15,000 by 1970, grandiosity was neglected in favor of less expensive and more rapidly constructed styles.[29] While some buildings are neatly arranged into quadrangles, others are packed densely and haphazardly. These eccentricities arose from the university's numerous, ever-changing master plans for the campus. For example, in one of the earliest plans, Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park, outlined a "grand terrace" overlooking Cayuga Lake.[30] Because the terrace plan was dropped, McGraw Hall appears to face the wrong direction, facing Libe Slope rather than the Arts Quad.[citation needed]

Overlooking McGraw Tower and central campus

The university is home to several buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Andrew Dickson White House, Bailey Hall, Caldwell Hall, Comstock Hall, Morrill Hall, and Deke House. At least three other historic buildings—the original Roberts Hall, East Robert Hall and Stone Hall—have also been listed on the NRHP, despite their demolitions in the 1980s.[31]

The Ithaca Campus is among the rolling valleys of the Finger Lakes region and, atop East Hill, provides a view of the surrounding area, including 38 miles (61.4 km) long Lake Cayuga. Two gorges, Fall Creek Gorge and Cascadilla Gorge, bound Central Campus and become popular swimming holes during the warmer months (although the university discourages their use).[citation needed] Adjacent to the main campus, Cornell owns the 2,800 acre (11.6 km²) Cornell Plantations, a botanical garden containing flowers, trees, and ponds along manicured trails.[32]

Cornell has adopted a comprehensive sustainability action plan, and has a number of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings on the Ithaca campus.[33][not in citation given] In 2009, a new gas-fired combined heat and power facility replaced a coal-fired steam plant, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions to 7% below 1990 levels, and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 75,000 tons per year.[34] The facility meets 15% of campus electrical needs,[35] and a university-run, on-campus hydroelectric plant in the Fall Creek Gorge provides an additional 2%.[36] An award-winning lake source cooling project uses Lake Cayuga to air condition campus buildings, with an 80% energy saving over conventional systems.[37] In 2007, Cornell established a Center for a Sustainable Future.[38] Cornell has been rated "A-" by the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card for its environmental and sustainability initiatives.[39]

New York City campus

Weill Medical Center overlooks the East River in New York City.

Cornell's medical campus in New York, also called Weill Cornell, is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It is home to two Cornell divisions, Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and has been affiliated with the NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital since 1927.[40] Although their faculty and academic divisions are separate, the Medical Center shares its administrative and teaching hospital functions with the Columbia University Medical Center.[citation needed] These teaching hospitals also include the Payne Whitney Clinic in Manhattan and the Westchester Division in White Plains, New York.[41] Weill Cornell Medical College is also affiliated with the neighboring Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, and the Hospital for Special Surgery. Many faculty members have joint appointments at these institutions, and Weill Cornell, Rockefeller, and Memorial Sloan–Kettering offer the Tri-Institutional MD–PhD Program to selected entering Cornell medical students.[42] From 1942 to 1979, the campus also housed a Cornell school of nursing.[43]

In addition to the medical center, New York City hosts local offices for some of Cornell's service programs. The Cornell Urban Scholars Program encourages students to pursue public service careers with organizations working with New York City's poorest children, families, and communities.[44] The NYS College of Human Ecology and the NYS College of Agriculture and Life Sciences provide means for students to reach out to local communities by gardening and building with the Cornell Cooperative Extension.[45] Students with the NYS School of Industrial and Labor Relations' Extension & Outreach Program make workplace expertise available to organizations, union members, policy makers, and working adults.[46] The College of Engineering's Operations Research Manhattan, in the city's financial district, brings together business optimization research and decision support services addressed to both financial applications and public health logistics planning.[47] The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning has a facility on West 17th Street, near Union Square, to provide studio and seminar space for students and faculty.[48]

Qatar campus

Weill Cornell Medical College in Education City, Qatar

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar is in Education City, near Doha. Opened in September 2004, it was the first American medical school outside the United States. The college is part of Cornell's program to increase its international influence. The College is a joint initiative with the Qatar government, which seeks to improve the country's academic programs and medical care.[18] Along with its full four-year MD program, which mirrors the curriculum taught at Weill Medical College in New York City, the college offers a two-year undergraduate pre-medical program with a separate admissions process. This undergraduate program opened in September 2002 and was the first coeducational institute of higher education in Qatar.[49]

The college is partially funded by the Qatar government through the Qatar Foundation, which contributed $750 million for its construction.[50] The medical center is housed in a large two-story structure designed by Arata Isozaki.[51] In 2004, the Qatar Foundation announced the construction of a 350-bed Specialty Teaching Hospital near the medical college in Education City. The hospital is currently under construction and is slated to be completed in the next few years.[18]

Other facilities

Cornell University owns and operates many facilities around the world.[52] The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, was operated by Cornell under a contract with the National Science Foundation from its construction until 2011.[53] The Shoals Marine Laboratory, operated in conjunction with the University of New Hampshire,[54] is a seasonal marine field station dedicated to undergraduate education and research on 95 acre (0.4 km²) Appledore Island off the MaineNew Hampshire coast.[55]

Cornell's World War I Memorial on West Campus

Many Cornell facilities focus on conservationism and ecology. The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, operated by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is in Geneva, New York, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the main campus. The facility comprises 20 major buildings on 130 acres (0.5 km²) of land as well as more than 700 acres (2.8 km²) of test plots and other lands devoted to horticultural research.[56][not in citation given] It also operates three substations: Vineyard Research Laboratory in Fredonia,[57] Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland,[58] and the Long Island Horticultural Research Laboratory in Riverhead.[59]

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca's Sapsucker Woods performs research on biological diversity, primarily in birds.[60] On April 18, 2005, the lab announced that it had rediscovered the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, long thought to be extinct.[61] The Animal Science Teaching and Research Center in Harford, New York, and the Duck Research Laboratory in Eastport, New York, are resources for information on animal disease control and husbandry.[62][63] The Arnot Teaching and Research Forest, a 4,075 acre (16.5 km²) forest 20 miles (32.2 km) south of the Ithaca campus, is the primary field location for faculty and student training and research related to professional forestry.[64][not in citation given] The mission of the Cornell Biological Field Station in Bridgeport, New York, is "to provide a center for long-term ecological research and support the University's educational programs, with special emphasis on freshwater lacustrine systems".[65] The Department of Horticulture operates the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm and Freeville Organic Research Farm in Freeville, New York.[4] In addition, the university operates biodiversity laboratories in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic,[66] and in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru named the Cornell University Esbaran Amazon Field Laboratory.[67]

The university also maintains offices for study abroad and scholarship programs. The Cornell in Washington is a program that allows students to study for a semester in Washington, D.C., holding research and internship positions while earning credit toward a degree.[68] Cornell in Rome, operated by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, allows students to use the city as a resource for learning architecture, urban studies, and art.[69] The College of Human Ecology offers the Urban Semester Program, an opportunity to take courses and complete an internship in New York City for a semester. As well, the Capital Semester program allows students to intern in the New York state legislature.[70][not in citation given] As New York State's land grant college, Cornell operates a cooperative extension service with 56 offices spread out across the state, each staffed with extension educators who offer programs in five subjects: Agriculture & Food Systems; Children, Youth, & Families; Community & Economic Vitality; Environment & Natural Resources; and Nutrition & Health.[71] Cornell also operates New York's Animal Health Diagnostic Center.[72]

Organization and administration

College/school founding
College/school Year founded

NYS College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 1874
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning 1871
College of Arts and Sciences 1865
College of Engineering 1870
School of Hotel Administration 1922
NYS College of Human Ecology 1925
NYS School of Industrial and Labor Relations 1945
Graduate School 1909
Cornell Law School 1887
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management 1946
Weill Cornell Medical College 1898
Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences 1952
NYS College of Veterinary Medicine 1894

Cornell is a non-profit organization governed by a 64-member board of trustees consisting of both privately and publicly appointed trustees. Three trustees are appointed by the Governor of New York; one seat is reserved for the eldest lineal descendant of Ezra Cornell; two members from each of the fields of agriculture, business and labor in New York state; eight trustees to be elected from among and by the alumni of the university; two trustees to be elected from among and by the faculty of the university at Ithaca and Geneva; two trustees to be elected from among and by the membership of the university's student body at Ithaca (one undergraduate and one graduate student);[73] and one trustee to be elected from among and by the nonacademic staff and employees of the university at Ithaca and Geneva, 37 trustees at large and finally, the Governor, Temporary President of the Senate, Speaker of the Assembly, and president of the university serve in an ex officio voting capacity.[74][75] Peter C. Meinig has served as the chairman of the board since 2002.[76] The Board elects a President to serve as the chief executive and educational officer.[74] The twelfth and current president, David J. Skorton has served since July 2006 and succeeded Jeffrey S. Lehman.[77] The Board of Trustees hold four regular meetings each year, and portions of those meetings are subject to the New York State Open Meetings Law.[78]

Cornell consists of nine privately endowed colleges as well as four publicly supported "statutory colleges": the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Human Ecology, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and College of Veterinary Medicine. These statutory colleges received $131.9 million in SUNY appropriations in 2010-2011 to support their teaching, research, and service missions, which makes them accountable to SUNY trustees and other state agencies. The budget also includes $3.9 million of state funds for Cornell Cooperative Extension[79][80][81] Residents of New York enrolled in these colleges also qualify for discounted tuition.[82] However, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer issued a 2005 opinion asserting that, with respect to their academic activities, statutory colleges should be understood to be private, non-state parties.[6]:1

Cornell is decentralized, with its colleges and schools exercising wide autonomy. Each defines its own academic programs, operates its own admissions and advising programs, and confers its own degrees. The only university-wide requirements for a baccalaureate degree are to pass a swimming test, take two physical education courses, and satisfy a writing requirement.[83] A handful of inter-school academic departments offer courses in more than one college.[84][85] All academic departments are affiliated with at least one college; the last department without such an affiliation, the Cornell Africana Studies and Research Center, merged with the Arts College in July 2011.[86]

The statue of A.D. White, Cornell's first president, in front of Goldwin Smith Hall

Seven schools provide undergraduate programs and an additional seven provide graduate and professional programs. Students pursuing graduate degrees in departments of these schools are enrolled in the Graduate School. The School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions offers programs for college and high school students, professionals, and other adults.[87] Of the 13,515 undergraduate students, 4,251 (31.5%) are affiliated with the largest college by enrollment, Arts and Sciences, followed by 3,153 (23.3%) in Agriculture and Life Sciences and 2,680 (19.8%) in Engineering. By student enrollment, the smallest of the seven undergraduate colleges is Architecture, Art, and Planning, with 515 (3.8%) students.[4]

Several other universities have used Cornell as their model, including Stanford University, the University of Sydney in Australia and the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom; the latter on the recommendation of one of its financiers, Andrew Carnegie, who was a Cornell Trustee.[88]

The university also operates eCornell, which offers both certificate programs and professional development courses online.[89] In addition to being New York's land-grant college, Cornell is also is a partner in New York's sea-grant program,[90] is the hub of the Northeast's sun-grant program,[91] and is a part of New York's space-grant consortium.[92]

In 2009, Cornell ranked third among universities in the U.S. in fund-raising, collecting $446.75 million in private support.[93] In addition to the central University development staff located in Ithaca and New York City, each college and program has its own staffed fundraising program. In 2006, Cornell launched a $4 billion fundraising campaign, which reached $3 billion in November 2010.[94]


Cornell is a large, primarily residential research university with a majority of enrollments in undergraduate programs.[95] The university has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education since 1921.[96] Cornell operates on a 4–1–4 academic calendar with the fall term beginning in late August and ending in early December, a three week winter session in January, and the spring term beginning in late January and ending in early May.[97]

The university awarded the world’s first degree in journalism, the nation’s first university degree in veterinary medicine, and the first doctorates in electrical engineering and industrial engineering. It also established the first four-year schools of hotel administration and industrial and labor relations. Cornell was the first U.S. university to offer a major in American studies, and it was the first university to teach modern Far Eastern languages.[4]


For the undergraduate class of 2014, Cornell admitted a total of 6,673 students out of 36,338 applicants, for an acceptance rate of 18%. Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences admitted less than 14% of applicants for the class of 2015. For the students enrolling in the class of 2014, 89% of were in the top 10% of their class.[98] For the undergraduate class of 2013, the admission rate was 19.1%.[99] For the undergraduate class of 2012, the admission rate was 20.4%.[100] Of those admitted, the average SAT Verbal score was 700, while the average SAT Math was a 720. Also, 92% of admitted students for the Class of 2011 were in the top 10% of their graduating high school class.[101] Cornell enrolls students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 120 countries. The Class of 2010 has representatives from all states. As of Fall 2005, 28% of undergraduate students identified themselves as members of ethnic minority groups.[4] Legacy applicants receive a slight advantage in the admission process.[102]

In 2005, the Graduate School accepted 21.6% of applicants, the Law School accepted 20.6%, and the Veterinary School accepted 10.9%.[103][104][105] The Weill Cornell Medical School accepted 4.3%.[106][not in citation given] In 2010, the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management enrolled 10.1% of its applicants for its two-year MBA program.[107]

Financial aid

The sarcophagus in Sage Chapel of Jennie McGraw, Cornell benefactor

At the time of its founding, Cornell University was considered revolutionary because its founder, Ezra Cornell, was committed to access for all students, regardless of economic circumstance. Section 9 of the original charter of Cornell University ensured that the university "shall be open to applicants for admission ... at the lowest rates of expense consistent with its welfare and efficiency, and without distinction as to rank, class, previous occupation or locality."[108] The University Charter provided for free instruction to one student chosen from each Assembly district in the state.[108] Within the first 10 years of operation, the university admitted women and underrepresented minority students and provided financial aid for many students, using a combination of grant, loan and work-study opportunities. The university awarded need-based grants as early as 1879, and its first endowed scholarship fund was created in 1892.[109]

Starting in the 1950s Cornell coordinated with other Ivy League schools to provide a consistent set of financial aid. However, in 1989, a consent decree to end a Justice Department antitrust investigation ended such coordination.[110] Even after the decree, all Ivy League schools continue to award aid on financial need without offering any athletic scholarships.[111] In December 2010, Cornell announced a policy of matching any grant component of financial aid offers from other Ivy League schools, MIT, Duke University or Stanford, if an accepted applicant is trying to decide between Cornell and those other schools.[112]

On January 31, 2008, Cornell announced a new financial aid initiative to be phased in over the following two years. In the first year, 2008–09, Cornell replaced need-based loans with scholarships for undergraduate students from families with incomes under $60,000 and capped such loans annually at $3,000 for students from families with incomes between $60,000 and $120,000. The following year, 2009–10, the program improved by replacing loan with scholarships for students from families with incomes up to $75,000, and capped annual loans at $3,000 for students from families with income between $75,000 and $120,000. For families above $120,000, need-based loans were capped at $7,500 per year.[113] The initiative costs an additional $14 million per year to fully implement.[114] Although Cornell's endowment dropped 27% in the second half of 2008, its President announced that the financial aid initiative will continue by withdrawing an additional $35 million from the endowment for undergraduate financial aid in 2009–10.[115] Cornell is seeking $125 million in gifts to support the financial aid initiative.[116] In 2010, 1,647 of the 3,181 full-time freshmen enrolled were found to have financial need (40%).[117] Of these, Cornell could meet the full financial aid needs of all 1,647 freshmen. Cornell's average undergraduate student's indebtedness at graduation is $21,549.[117]

International programs

Cornell offers undergraduate curricula with international focuses, including the Africana Studies, French Studies, German Studies, Jewish Studies, Latino Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Romance Studies, and Russian Literature majors. Cornell was the first university to teach modern Far Eastern languages.[4] In addition to traditional academic programs, Cornell students may study abroad on any of six continents.[118]

The Asian Studies major, South Asia Program, South East Asia Program and China and Asia-Pacific Studies (CAPS) major provide opportunities for students and researchers in Asia. Cornell has an agreement with Peking University allowing students in the CAPS major to spend a semester in Beijing.[119] Similarly, the College of Engineering has an agreement to exchange faculty and graduate students with Tsinghua University in Beijing, and the School of Hotel Administration has a joint master's program with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has signed an agreement with Japan's National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences,[120] as well as the University of the Philippines, Los Baños,[121] to engage in joint research and exchange graduate students and faculty members. It also cooperates in agricultural research with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.[122]

In the Middle East, Cornell's efforts focus on biology and medicine. The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar trains new doctors to improve health services in the region.[123] The university is also developing the Bridging the Rift Center, a "Library of Life" (or database of all living systems) on the border of Israel and Jordan, in collaboration with those two countries and Stanford University.[124] Cornell has partnered with Queen's University in Canada to offer a joint Executive MBA. The innovative program includes both on-campus and videoconferencing-based, interactive virtual classroom sessions. Graduates of the program earn both a Cornell MBA and a Queen's MBA.[125]

Cornell University is member of the United Nations Academic Impact aligning institutions of higher education to the United Nations and promoting international cooperation.


University rankings (overall)
ARWU[126] 11
U.S. News & World Report[127] 15
Washington Monthly[128] 17
ARWU[129] 13
QS[130] 15
Times[131] 20

Cornell is consistently ranked among the top twenty universities in the world. In 2011, Cornell ranked 4th in the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities[132] (which ranks top 12000 universities of the world based on size, visibility, rich files and scholar), 15th in the QS World University Rankings and 20th in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[133][134] (in 2010 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and QS World University Rankings parted ways to produce separate rankings). The university ranked 15th in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report National Universities ranking (tied with Brown University), tied for 6th with Columbia University and Brown University in the 2011 U.S. News & World Report High School Counselor rankings, and 13th globally in an academic ranking of world universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2011.[135][136][137] Cornell was ranked 38th nationally and sixth among Ivy League universities in The Washington Monthly's 2010 ranking of universities' contributions to research, community service, and social mobility.[138] In 2006, The Princeton Review reported that Cornell ranked ninth as a "dream college" for high school students and their parents.[139] Newsweek named Cornell the 'Hottest Ivy' in its 2007 listing of America's 25 Hot Schools.[140] Instead of using the traditional school ranking methods, Newsweek offers a snapshot of today's most interesting colleges according to high school counselors, admissions officers, consultants, students, and parents, who noted Cornell for its emphasis on "problem-solving as well as scholarly debate" and "variety on campus" among other things.[141]

Sage Hall, home to the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Many of Cornell's schools have been consistently ranked as some of the top schools in the United States. In its annual edition of "America's Best Architecture & Design Schools", the journal DesignIntelligence has consistently ranked Cornell's Bachelor of Architecture program as number one in the nation (2000-2002, 2005-2007, and 2009-2011). In the 2011 survey, the program ranked first and the Master of Architecture program ranked sixth.[142] In 2011 and 2012, Design Intelligence ranked Cornell's Master of Landscape Architecture program 4th in the nation with the undergraduate program placing 8th for the same two years.[143] [144] In 2011, US News and World Report ranked Cornell's Sloan Program in Health Administration 14th in the nation.[145] Among business schools in the United States, the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management was ranked 7th by BusinessWeek in 2004,[146] 9th by Forbes in 2005,[147] 14th by U.S. News in 2008,[148] and 18th by The Wall Street Journal in 2005.[149] Worldwide, the school was ranked 17th by The Economist in 2005 and 36th by the Financial Times in 2006.[150][151] U.S. News ranked the Weill Cornell Medical School as the 15th best in the United States in its 2007 edition.[152] The College of Veterinary Medicine was ranked first among national veterinary medicine graduate schools.[153] The Cornell Law School was ranked as the 12th best graduate law program among national universities.[154] In 2005, The National Law Journal reported that Cornell Law had the sixth highest placement rate at the top 50 law firms in the U.S. among law schools with recent graduates.[155]

Among graduate engineering programs, Cornell was ranked 9th in the United States by U.S. News in 2008.[156] In 2006, Cornell was ranked 1st in the United States and 4th in the world in producing the most graduates who went on to receive engineering or natural science Ph.D.'s at American universities.[157] In its 2006,[158] 2007,[159] and 2008 [160] ranking of undergraduate engineering programs at universities in the United States, U.S. News placed Cornell 1st in engineering physics. In 1954, Conrad Hilton called the Cornell School of Hotel Administration "the greatest hotel school in the world."[161] According to the latest ranking of National Research Council in 1995, Cornell ranks sixth nationally in the number of graduate programs in the top ten in their fields.[162] Cornell had 19 ranked in the top 10 in terms of overall academic quality. Also National Research Council ranked the quality of faculties as 5th in Arts and Humanities, 6th in Mathematics and Physical Sciences, and 5th in Engineering.[163][164]


The Cornell Law Library is one of 12 national depositories for print records of briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Cornell University Library is the 11th largest academic library in the United States, ranked by number of volumes held.[165] Organized into 20 divisions, in 2005 it held 7.5 million printed volumes in open stacks, 8.2 million microfilms and microfiches, and a total of 440,000 maps, motion pictures, DVDs, sound recordings, and computer files in its collections, in addition to extensive digital resources and the University Archives.[166] It was the first among all U.S. colleges and universities to allow undergraduates to borrow books from its libraries.[4] In 2006, The Princeton Review ranked it as the 11th best college library,[167] and it climbed to 6th best in 2009.[168] The library plays an active role in furthering online archiving of scientific and historical documents. arXiv, an e-print archive created at Los Alamos National Laboratory by Paul Ginsparg, is operated and primarily funded by Cornell as part of the library's services. The archive has changed the way many physicists and mathematicians communicate, making the e-print a viable and popular means of announcing new research.[169]

Press and scholarly publications

The Cornell University Press, established in 1869 but inactive from 1884 to 1930, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States.[170][171] Today, the press is one of the country's largest university presses.[4] It produces approximately 150 nonfiction titles each year in various disciplines including anthropology, Asian studies, biological sciences, classics, history, industrial relations, literary criticism and theory, natural history, philosophy, politics and international relations, veterinary science, and women's studies.[171][172]

Cornell's academic units and student groups also publish a number of scholarly journals. Faculty-led publications include the Johnson School's Administrative Science Quarterly,[173] the ILR School's Industrial and Labor Relations Review, the Arts and Sciences Philosophy Department's The Philosophical Review, the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning's Journal of Architecture, and the Law School's Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.[174] Student-led scholarly publications include the Law Review, the International Law Journal, the Journal of Law and Public Policy, the International Affairs Review, the HR Review, and the Business Review.


Cornell, a research university, is ranked fourth in the world in producing the largest number of graduates who go on to pursue PhDs in engineering or the natural sciences at American institutions, as well as fifth in the world in producing graduates who pursue PhDs at American institutions in any field.[175] Research is a central element of the university's mission; in 2009 Cornell spent $671 million on science and engineering research and development, the 16th highest in the United States.[176]

Cornell's Center for Advanced Computing was one of the five original centers of the NSF's Supercomputer Centers Program.

For the 2004–05 fiscal year, the university spent $561.3 million on research.[177] The primary recipients of this funding were the colleges of Medicine ($164.2 million), Agriculture and Life Sciences ($114.5 million), Arts and Sciences ($80.3 million), and Engineering ($64.8 million).[177] The money comes largely from federal sources, with federal investment of $381.0 million. The federal agencies that invest the most money are the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation that make up, respectively, 51.4% and 30.7% of all federal investment in the university.[177] Cornell was on the top-ten list of U.S. universities receiving the most patents in 2003, and was one of the nation's top five institutions in forming start-up companies.[178] In 2004–05, Cornell received 200 invention disclosures, filed 203 U.S. patent applications, completed 77 commercial license agreements, and distributed royalties of more than $4.1 million to Cornell units and inventors.[4]

Since 1962, Cornell has been involved in unmanned missions to Mars.[179] In the 21st century, Cornell had a hand in the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. Cornell's Steve Squyres, Principal Investigator for the Athena Science Payload, led the selection of the landing zones and requested data collection features for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.[180] Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers took those requests and designed the rovers to meet them. The rovers, both of which have operated long past their original life expectancies, are responsible for the discoveries that were awarded 2004 Breakthrough of the Year honors by Science.[181] Control of the Mars rovers has shifted between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and Cornell's Space Sciences Building.[182] Further, Cornell researchers discovered the rings around the planet Uranus,[183] and Cornell built and operates the world's largest and most sensitive radiotelescope located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.[184]

The Automotive Crash Injury Research project was begun in 1952 by John O. Moore at the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory, which spun off in 1972 as Calspan Corporation.[185] It pioneered the use of crash testing, originally using corpses rather than dummies. The project discovered that improved door locks, energy-absorbing steering wheels, padded dashboards, and seat belts could prevent an extraordinary percentage of injuries.[185] The project led Liberty Mutual to fund the building of a demonstration Cornell Safety Car in 1956, which received national publicity and influenced carmakers.[185] Carmakers soon started their own crash-test laboratories and gradually adopted many of the Cornell innovations. Other ideas, such as rear-facing passenger seats,[186] never found favor with carmakers or the public.[citation needed]

In 1984, the National Science Foundation began work on establishing five new supercomputer centers, including the Cornell Center for Advanced Computing, to provide high-speed computing resources for research within the United States. In 1985, a team from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications began the development of NSFNet, a TCP/IP-based computer network that could connect to the ARPANET, at the Cornell Center for Advanced Computing and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This high-speed network, unrestricted to academic users, became a backbone to which regional networks would be connected. Initially a 56-kbit/s network, traffic on the network grew exponentially; the links were upgraded to 1.5 Mbit/s T1s in 1988 and to 45 Mbit/s in 1991. The NSFNet was a major milestone in the development of the Internet and its rapid growth coincided with the development of the World Wide Web.[187][188]

Cornell scientists have researched the fundamental particles of nature for more than 70 years. Cornell physicists, such as Hans Bethe, contributed not only to the foundations of nuclear physics but also participated in the Manhattan Project (see also: List of Cornell Manhattan Project people). In the 1930s, Cornell built the second cyclotron in the United States. In the 1950s, Cornell physicists became the first to study synchrotron radiation. During the 1990s, the Cornell Electron Storage Ring, located beneath Alumni Field, was the world's highest-luminosity electron-positron collider.[189][190] After building the synchrotron at Cornell, Robert R. Wilson took a leave of absence to become the founding director of Fermilab, which involved designing and building the largest accelerator in the United States.[191] Cornell's accelerator and high-energy physics groups are involved in the design of the proposed International Linear Collider and plan to participate in its construction and operation. The International Linear Collider, to be completed in the late 2010s, will complement the Large Hadron Collider and shed light on questions such as the identity of dark matter and the existence of extra dimensions.[192]

In the area of humanities and social sciences, Cornell is best known for being one of the world's greatest centers for the study of Southeast Asia. The Southeast Asia Program (SEAP) at Cornell is designated as a National Resource Center (NRC) by the United States Department of Education 2010–2014. Therefore, the SEAP is nationally prominent in promoting advanced foreign language training, area and international knowledge in the liberal arts and applied discipline focused on Southeast Asia.[193] The George McTurnan Kahin Center for Advanced Research on Southeast Asia is located in the historic "Treman House." The house was built by Robert Henry Treman, the son of an enterprising local family and the first member of that family to attend Cornell University and be elected to its board of trustees. The George McTurnan Kahin Center is home to SEAP graduate students, visiting fellows and scholars, faculty members, and SEAP's Publication and Outreach offices.[194]

Student life


Lyon Hall

For the 2006–07 academic year, Cornell had 901 registered student organizations. These clubs and organizations run the gamut from kayaking to full-armor jousting, from varsity and club sports and a cappella groups to improvisational theatre, from political clubs and publications to chess and video game clubs.[195] They are subsidized financially by academic departments and/or the Student Assembly and the Graduate & Professional Student Assembly, two student-run organizations with a collective budget of $3.0 million per year.[196][197] The assemblies also finance other student life programs including a concert commission and an on-campus movie theater. The Cornell International Affairs Society sends over 100 Cornellians to collegiate Model United Nations conferences across North America and hosts the Cornell Model United Nations Conference each spring for over 500 high school students.[198] Cornell United Religious Work is a collaboration among many diverse religious traditions, helping to provide spiritual resources throughout a student's time at college. The Cornell Catholic Community is the largest Catholic student organization on campus. Student organizations also include a myriad of musical groups that play everything from classical, jazz, to ethnic styles in addition to the Big Red Marching Band, which performs regularly at football games and other campus events.[199] Organized in 1868, the oldest Cornell student organization is the Cornell University Glee Club.[200] The university is home to two secret honor societies called Sphinx Head[201] and Quill and Dagger[202][203] that have maintained a presence on campus for well over 120 years. It also has a Student Innovation Group, a think-tank dedicated to improving student life on campus.[citation needed]

Cornell hosts a large fraternity and sorority system, with 70 chapters involving 33% of male and 24% of female undergraduates.[204][205][206] Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter organization established for African Americans, was founded at Cornell in 1906.[207][208]

Performers from the university's Raas team

During the 2004–05 academic year, the Greek system committed 21,668 community service and advocacy hours and raised $176,547 in philanthropic efforts.[205] However, the administration has expressed concerns over student misconduct in the system. In 2004–05, of the 251 social events registered with the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, 37 (15%) resulted in a complaint. In that same year, there were five reported instances of property destruction, five reports of bias, three hazing incidents, and various other allegations.[205] Misconduct by students, faculty or staff is reviewed by the Judicial Administrator, who administers Cornell's justice system. However, students accused of academic and conduct code violations at Cornell are entitled to representation in the Cornell justice system by the Office of the Judicial Codes Counselor. Judicial Codes Counselors are usually Cornell Law students appointed by the University president to advocate for students accused of academic and conduct code violations. In addition to the right to representation, Cornell students have the right to not self-incriminate during Judicial Administrator investigations,[209] which is an unusual (though very important) right in college justice systems.[210][211]

Press and radio

The Cornell student body produces several works by way of print and radio. Student-run press outlets include The Cornell Daily Sun, the oldest continuously independent college daily newspaper in the United States;[212] The Cornell International Affairs Review; The Cornell Lunatic, a campus humor magazine; the Cornell Chronicle, the university's newspaper of record; The Cornell Review, a conservative newspaper; and Kitsch Magazine, a feature magazine published in cooperation with Ithaca College. The Cornellian is an independent student organization that organizes, arranges, produces, edits, and publishes the yearbook of the same name; it is composed of artistic photos of the campus, student life, and athletics, as well as the standard senior portraits. It carries the Silver Crown Award for Journalism as well as a Benjamin Franklin Award for Print Design – the only Ivy League Yearbook with such a distinction.[213] Cornellians are represented over the radio waves on WVBR, an independent commercial FM radio station owned and operated by Cornell students. Other student groups also operate internet streaming audio sites.[214]


Balch Hall, Cornell's only remaining all-female dorm

University housing is broadly divided into three sections: North Campus, West Campus, and Collegetown. Since a 1997 residential initiative, West Campus houses transfer and returning students, whereas North Campus is almost entirely populated by freshmen.[215] The only options for living on North Campus for upperclassmen are the program houses: Risley Residential College, Just About Music, the Ecology House, Holland International Living Center, the Multicultural Living Learning Unit, the Latino Living Center, Akwe:kon, and Ujamaa. Of these, only Ujamaa, Akwe:kon, and the Latino Living Center have been controversial, due to their dedicated racial or ethnic themes.[216][217] In an attempt to create a sense of community and an atmosphere of education outside the classroom and continue Andrew Dickson White's vision, a $250 million reconstruction of West Campus created residential colleges there for undergraduates.[218] The idea of building a house system can be attributed in part to the success of Risley Residential College, the oldest continually operating residential college at Cornell.[219]

Additionally, Cornell has several housing areas for graduate and professional students. Of these, Schuyler House (which was formerly a part of Sage Infirmary)[220] and Hughes Hall (which is the domitory wing of the law school complex)[221] have a dorm layout, while Maplewood Apartments, Hasbrouck Apartments, and Thurston Court Apartments are apartment-style, some even allowing for family living. Off campus, many single family houses in the East Hill neighborhoods adjacent to the university have been converted to apartments. Private developers have also built several multi-story apartment complexes in the Collegetown neighborhood. Nine percent of undergraduate students reside in fraternity and sorority houses, although first semester freshmen are not permitted to join them.[222] Cornell’s Greek system has 67 chapters and over 54 Greek residences that house approximately 1,500 students. About 42% of Greek members live in their houses.[223] Housing cooperatives or other independent living units exist, including Watermargin, Telluride House, Triphammer Cooperative, the Center for Jewish Living, and the Wait Cooperative.[224]

As of 2008, Cornell's dining system was ranked 11th in the nation by the Princeton Review.[225] The university has 30 on-campus dining locations, and a program called the Cross Country Gourmet Guest Restaurant Series periodically brings chefs, menus, and atmosphere from restaurants to Cornell's ten cafeterias.[226]


Cornell has 36 varsity intercollegiate teams that have the nickname of the Big Red. An NCAA Division I institution, Cornell is a member of the Ivy League and ECAC Hockey and competes in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), the largest athletic conference in North America.[227] (Note that ECAC Hockey is no longer affiliated with the ECAC.) Cornell's varsity athletic teams currently are highly successful within the Ivy League and consistently challenge for NCAA Division I titles in a number of sports, including men's lacrosse and men's ice hockey. Under the Ivy League athletic agreement, the university does not offer athletic scholarships for athletic recruiting.[228]

A 1908 print depicting a Cornell baseball player

Cornell University's football team had at least a share of the national championship four times before 1940[229][230] and has won the Ivy League championship three times, last in 1990.[231]

In addition to the school's varsity athletics, club sports teams have been organized as student organizations under the auspices of the Dean of Students. Cornell's intramural program includes 30 sports. Beside such familiar sports such as flag football, squash, or water polo, such unusual offerings as "inner tube water polo" and formerly "broomstick polo" have been offered, as well as a sports trivia competition.[232] Cornell students also often participate in the International Rutabaga Curling Championship, held annually at the Ithaca Farmers' Market. Cornell also has a rich history of martial arts on campus, particularly Sport Taekwondo.[233] Since 1987, Cornell Sport Taekwondo has competed in the Ivy-Northeast Collegiate Taekwondo League (INCTL). In 2007 after a 4 year slump, Cornell Sport Taekwondo defeated MIT Sport Taekwondo to take the INCTL Cup.[234]


Cornelliana is a term for Cornell's traditions, legends, and lore. Cornellian traditions include Slope Day, a celebration held on the last day of classes of the spring semester, and Dragon Day, which includes the burning of a dragon built by architecture students. Dragon Day is one of the school's oldest traditions and has been celebrated annually since 1901, typically on or near St. Patrick's Day. The dragon is built secretly by the architecture students, and taunting messages are left for the engineering students for the week before Dragon Day. On Dragon Day, the dragon is paraded across the Arts Quad and then set afire.[235]

According to legend, if a virgin crosses the Arts Quad at midnight, the statues of Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White will walk off their pedestals, meet in the center of the Quad, and shake hands, congratulating themselves on the chastity of students. There is also another myth that if a couple crosses the suspension bridge on North Campus, and the young woman does not accept a kiss from her partner, the bridge will fall. If the kiss is accepted, the couple is assured a long future together.[236]

Cornell's annual Dragon Day parade, circa 1920

The university is also host to various student pranks. For example, on at least two different occasions the university has awoken to find something odd atop the 173-foot (52.7 m) tall McGraw clock tower—once a 60-pound (27 kg) pumpkin and another time a disco ball. Because there is no access to the spire atop the tower, how the items were put in place remains a mystery.[237] The colors of the lights on McGraw tower change to orange for Halloween and green for St. Patrick's Day.[238] The clock tower also plays music.

The school colors are carnelian (a shade of red) and white, a play on "Cornellian" and Andrew Dickson White. A bear is commonly used as the unofficial mascot, which dates back to the introduction of the mascot "Touchdown" in 1915, a live bear who was brought onto the field during football games.[5] The university's alma mater is "Far Above Cayuga's Waters", and its fight song is "Give My Regards to Davy". People associated with the university are called "Cornellians".


Cornell offers a variety of professional and peer counseling services to students.[239] Gannett Clinic offers on-campus outpatient health services with emergency services and residential treatment provided by Cayuga Medical Center.[240] For most of its history, Cornell provided residential medical care for sick students, including at the historic Sage Infirmary.[241] Cornell offers specialized reproductive health and family planning services.[242]

The university received worldwide attention for a series of six student suicides that occurred during the 2009–10 school year, and they have since added temporary fences to its bridges while more permanent measures are in process. Before this abnormal cluster of suicides, the suicide rate at Cornell had been similar to or below the suicide rates of other American universities, including a period between 2005 and 2008 in which no suicides occurred.[243][244]



Kurt Lewin, the "Father of social psychology," taught at Cornell during the early 1930s.

For the August 2008 to May 2009 academic year, Cornell University had 1,639 full-time and part-time academic faculty members affiliated with its main campus.[4] In 2007-08, the New York City medical divisions count 1,235 faculty members and Qatar has 34.[4] In total, 41 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Cornell as faculty or students.[7] Notable former professors include Carl Sagan, Thomas Gold, Charles Evans Hughes, Norman Malcolm, Vladimir Nabokov, M.H. Abrams, Hans Bethe, Richard Feynman, Kip Thorne, Archie Randolph Ammons, Peter Debye, Allan Bloom, Henry Louis Gates, Wole Soyinka, and Anthony Appiah.[citation needed]

Carl Sagan, pictured with a model of the Viking Mars Lander, researched astronomy during his tenure at Cornell from 1968 to 1996.

Cornell's faculty for the 2005–06 academic year included three Nobel laureates, a Crafoord Prize winner, two Turing Award winners, a Fields Medal winner, two Legion of Honor recipients, a World Food Prize winner, an Andrei Sakharov Prize winner, three National Medal of Science winners, two Wolf Prize winners, five MacArthur award winners, four Pulitzer Prize winners, two Eminent Ecologist Award recipients, a Carter G. Woodson Scholars Medallion recipient, four Presidential Early Career Award winners, 20 National Science Foundation CAREER grant holders, a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research, a recipient of the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a recipient of the Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, three Packard Foundation grant holders, a Keck Distinguished Young Scholar, two Beckman Foundation Young Investigator grant holders, and two NYSTAR (New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research) early career award winners.[4]

In 2008 and 2009, Cornell was named a "Great College to Work For" by The Chronicle of Higher Education. This recognition was based upon Cornell's excellent ratings in several factors such as compensation and benefits, connection to institution and pride, faculty-administration relations, job satisfaction, and post-retirement benefits, as determined by a survey of the faculty, staff, and administration of the university.[245]


As of August 2008, the university counted 245,027 living alumni.[4] Many are active through organizations and events including the annual Reunion Weekend and Homecoming, weekend festivities in Ithaca, and the International Spirit of Zinck's Night. For the 2004–05 fiscal year, Cornell ranked third for gifts and bequests from alumni, and fourth for total support from all sources (alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations) among U.S. colleges and universities reporting voluntary gift support.[4] In October 2006, Cornell made public a 10 year capital campaign "Far Above..." to solicit alumni and raise $4 billion to improve the undergraduate experience, attract and retain faculty, and expand the physical plant.[246] Information about Cornell graduates, most of which is submitted by the graduates themselves, is available in Cornell Magazine. The magazine is currently published 6 times a year.[247]

Ann Coulter '84, media personality
Hu Shih '14, Chinese ambassador, philosopher, poet

Cornellians are noted for their accomplishments in public, professional, and corporate life.[4][248] Taiwan's former President Lee Teng-hui,[249] former President of Cuba Mario García Menocal,[250] and former Iranian Prime Minister Jamshid Amuzegar ('50)[251] all graduated from Cornell. Hu Shih ('14) was the ambassador to the United States during World War II and later China's representative to the United Nations. He is widely recognized today as a key contributor to Chinese liberalism and language reform in his advocacy for the use of written vernacular Chinese.[252] In the United States, numerous Congressmen and Cabinet members, including Paul Wolfowitz ('65)[253] and Janet Reno ('60),[254] and one Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg ('54),[255] have been Cornellians. After his Cornell education, David Starr Jordan (1872)[256] went on to become the president of Indiana University and subsequently founding president of Stanford University after former Cornell president Andrew Dickson White turned down the position. M. Carey Thomas (1877)[257] founded Bryn Mawr College and was its second president. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Urban ('41)[258] is the most decorated serviceman in United States history. Arnold Tremere ('68)[259] was appointed as the Canadian International Grains Institute Executive Director.

Cornellian-headed businesses include: Alamo Rent-A-Car (Michael Egan), Carrier (Willis Carrier, 1901),[260] Citigroup (Sanford Weill '55[261]), Coors Brewing Company (Adolph Coors '37),[262] and Burger King (James McLamore '47).[263] Cornellian-founded businesses include: Gannett by Frank Gannett (1898),[264] Grumman Aerospace Corporation by Leroy Grumman ('16),[265] by David Litman ('79)[266] and Bob Diener, Palm by Jeff Hawkins ('79),[267] PeopleSoft and Workday, Inc. by David Duffield ('62),[268] by Jay Walker ('77),[269] Qualcomm by Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs ('54),[261] and Staples by Myra Hart ('62).[270] Businesses currently headed by Cornellians include: Tata Group headed by Ratan Tata ('62).,[271] Nintendo of America headed by Reginald Fils-Aime ('83),[272] and Sprint Nextel headed by Dan Hesse ('77).[273]

In medicine, Dr. C. Everett Koop ('41)[274] was the Surgeon General under Ronald Reagan, Dr. Robert Atkins ('55)[275] developed the Atkins Diet, Dr. Henry Heimlich ('47)[276] developed the Heimlich maneuver, and Wilson Greatbatch ('50)[277] invented the first successful pacemaker. Dr. James Maas ('66),[278] both an alumnus and current faculty member, coined the term "power nap". Dr. Gregory Pincus ('24),[279] the co-inventor of the combined oral contraceptive (i.e. birth control pill) was an undergraduate at Cornell. Cornellians also include medical personalities Dr. Benjamin Spock and Joyce Brothers ('47),[280] as well as the Nobel laureate maize geneticist Barbara McClintock ('23).[281] Dr. Jack Szostak ('77),[282][283] professor of genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering a key mechanism in the genetic operations of cells, an insight that has inspired new lines of research into cancer.

A number of Cornellians have been prominent innovators, starting with Thomas Midgley, Jr. ('11),[284] the inventor of Freon. Jeff Hawkins ('79)[285] invented the Palm Pilot and subsequently founded Palm, Inc. Graduate Jon Rubinstein ('78)[286] is credited with the development of the iPod. William Higinbotham developed Tennis for Two in 1958, one of the earliest computer games and the predecessor to Pong, and Robert Tappan Morris developed the first computer worm on the Internet. The most direct evidence of dark matter was provided by Vera Rubin ('51).[287] Jill Tarter ('66)[288] is the current director of the SETI Institute and Steve Squyres ('81)[289] is the principal investigator on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. Eight Cornellians have served as NASA astronauts. Bill Nye ('77) is best known as "The Science Guy".[290]

Cornell is the only university with three female winners of unshared Nobel Prizes among its alumni (Pearl S. Buck, Barbara McClintock, and Toni Morrison '55).[291] The latter won a Nobel Prize in Literature for Song of Solomon,[261] as well as a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Beloved. The Nobel Prize in Literature was also awarded to Pearl S. Buck ('25),[292] author of The Good Earth. E. B. White ('21),[293] author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, co-wrote the influential writing guide The Elements of Style with fellow Cornellian William Strunk Jr. Other Cornellian writers include Junot Diaz ('95),[294] Laura Z. Hobson, Thomas Pynchon ('59),[261] William Irwin Thompson ('66),[295] Richard Farina, Kurt Vonnegut[296] and Lauren Weisberger ('99).[297] Cornellian journalists include Margaret Bourke-White ('27),[298] Allison Danzig,[299] Dick Schaap ('55),[300] Kate Snow,[301] and radio personality Dave Ross.[302]

The Cornell Club in New York City is a focal point for alumni.

Christopher Reeve ('74)[261] is best known for his role as Superman, while comedian Frank Morgan is best known to older generations as The Wizard of Oz. Howard Hawks ('18)[303] is widely regarded as one of the most prominent directors of the classic Hollywood era, directing His Girl Friday and The Big Sleep among many other films. Stand-up comedian Bill Maher ('78),[261] is host of the HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher. John Kerwin, hosts The John Kerwin Show, a talk show featuring celebrity interviews, based in Los Angeles. Jimmy Smits ('82),[261] best known for his roles on L.A. Law, The West Wing, and in the Star Wars films Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith earned his MFA from Cornell. Greg Graffin (2003)[304] of the band Bad Religion, Peter Yarrow ('58)[305] of Peter, Paul and Mary, singer-songwriter Harry Chapin,[306] pop star Huey Lewis, and modern composers Steve Reich, Christopher Rouse, and Steven Stucky, all attended Cornell. Ronald D. Moore created the Battlestar Galactica remake that debuted in 2004. Carla Gallo played Lizzie in Undeclared. Media personalities and Cornell graduates Ann Coulter ('84)[285] and Keith Olbermann ('79)[307] engaged in a dispute, played out on television, over the value of Olbermann's degree from the school's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.[308] The Empire State Building and Grauman's Chinese Theatre were designed by Cornell architects Richmond Shreve (1902)[309] and Raymond M. Kennedy ('15),[310] respectively. Edmund Bacon ('32)[311] is best known for reshaping Philadelphia in the mid 20th century. Contemporary architects Richard Meier ('57),[312] designer of the Getty Center, and Peter Eisenman ('55), designer of the Wexner Center for the Arts, are also Cornellians.[313]

In athletics, Cornellians have won Olympic and World Championship medals, been inducted into sports halls of fame, and led numerous teams as general managers and coaches including Glenn "Pop" Warner (1894)[314] and Bruce Arena ('73), former head coach of the United States men's national soccer team.[315] Cornellian Gary Bettman ('74)[316] is current commissioner of the National Hockey League. Kevin Boothe played offensive guard for Cornell and the Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants. In addition to playing a regular on Hill Street Blues, Ed Marinaro ('71)[317] was the runner up for the Heisman Trophy, played in two Super Bowls (VIII and IX) and was named to the College Football Hall of Fame. Ken Dryden ('69)[318] was a six-time Stanley Cup winning hockey goalie. Joe Nieuwendyk was a Conn Smythe Trophy winner with the Dallas Stars in the 1999 Stanley Cup playoffs. Bryan Colangelo ('87) is now the President and General Manager of the NBA's Toronto Raptors.[319]

Fictional alumni have been portrayed in several films, television shows, and books. Characters include Andy Bernard of The Office[320] and Natalie Keener of Up in the Air.[321]


  1. ^ The other is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  2. ^ The University's charter was amended on April 24, 1867 to specify alumni elected trustees, (Waterman Thomas Hewett, Frank R. Holmes, Lewis A. Williams (1905). Cornell University, a history, Volume 1. University Publishing Society. p. 278. Retrieved December 14, 2010. ) however that provision did not become operative until there were at least 100 alumni ((State), New York (1881). The revised statutes of the State of New York. p. 537. Retrieved December 14, 2010.  ) in 1872. (Frank Hatch Kasson, Frank Herbert Palmer, Raymond P. Palmer, Project Innovation (September 1901). Education, Volume 22. pp. 108–09. Retrieved December 14, 2010. ) Also in 1865, the election of the Harvard University Board of Overseers was shifted to alumni voting.
  3. ^ Weill Cornell Medical College-NYC medical division units have additional external affiliations with 1,326 full-time and part-time faculty members elsewhere.[citation needed]


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