Cornell University

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Cornell University
The Insignia of Cornell University
Motto "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."
–Ezra Cornell, 1865
Established 1865
Type Private with 14 colleges and schools, including 4 contract colleges
Endowment $4.3 Billion
President David J. Skorton
Faculty 1,594 Ithaca
1,005 New York City
34 Qatar†
Undergraduates 13,515 Ithaca
Postgraduates 5,932 Ithaca
818 New York City
135 Qatar
Location Ithaca, NY, USA
Campus Rural area, 745 acres (3.0 km²)
Colors Carnelian and white
Nickname Big Red
The Cornell University Athletic Logo
None. The unofficial mascot is the bear sometimes named "Touchdown"
Affiliations Ivy League, AAU
The Cornell University Logo
†Regular full-time and part-time professorial faculty members. NYC Weill medical-division units have additional external affiliations with 867 full-time and part-time faculty members elsewhere.

Cornell University is a private research university located in Ithaca, New York. Its two medical campuses are in New York City and in Education City, Qatar.

The youngest member of the Ivy League, Cornell was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White as a coeducational, non- sectarian institution where admission was offered irrespective of religion or race. Inaugurated shortly after the American Civil War, its founders intended that the new university would 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."

The university is organized into seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions, each defining its own academic programs in near autonomy. Since the mid-20th century, the university has been expanding both its campus resources and influence worldwide. From a new residential college housing system to its 2001 founding of a medical college in Qatar, Cornell claims "to serve society by educating the leaders of tomorrow and extending the frontiers of knowledge." Cornell counts more than 240,000 living alumni and 40 Nobel laureates affiliated with the university as faculty or students. Research is a central element of the university's mission; Cornell spent $561.3 million on research and development in a diverse group of fields during the July 2004 to June 2005 fiscal year.


The Arts Quad, around which the College of Arts and Sciences centers
The Arts Quad, around which the College of Arts and Sciences centers

Cornell University was created on April 27, 1865 by a New York State 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 about the country, attracting students and faculty.

The university was inaugurated on October 7, 1868, and 412 men were enrolled the next day. Two years later, Cornell admitted its first women students, making it the first coeducational school among what came to be known as the Ivy League. Scientists Louis Agassiz and James Crafts were among the faculty members.

In September 2006, David Skorton formally became Cornell's 12th and current president
In September 2006, David Skorton formally became Cornell's 12th and current president

On April 19, 1969, more than eighty members of Cornell's Afro-American Society took over the student union building, Willard Straight Hall. The takeover was precipitated by increasing racial tension at the university in the 1960s; earlier incidents included a reprimand of three black students for a December 1968 incident and a cross burning in front of the black women's cooperative. The crisis ended on April 20, 1969, with Cornell ceding to the society's demands, including the creation of a black studies program. The students emerged making a black power salute with guns in hand. (The guns had been brought into the hall after the initial takeover, following an attempt by members of an all-white fraternity to reclaim the hall.) James A. Perkins, president of Cornell during the events, would resign soon after.

Cornell expanded significantly in the 20th century, with its student population growing to its current count of about 20,000 students. The faculty expanded as well; by the century's end, the university had more than 3,400 faculty members. Along with its population growth, Cornell increased its breadth of course offerings. Today, the university has wide-ranging programs and offers more than 4,000 courses.

In the 2000s, Cornell has been expanding its international programs. In 2001, the university founded the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the first American medical school outside of the United States. It continues to forge partnerships with major institutions in India, Singapore, and the People's Republic of China. The university has gone as far as to claim to be "the first transnational university".


Goldwin Smith Hall and the A.D. White statue
Goldwin Smith Hall and the A.D. White statue

Cornell is a private institution, receiving most of its funding through tuition, research grants, and alumni contributions. Three of its undergraduate colleges and the graduate-level College of Veterinary Medicine are called contract colleges. These divisions receive partial funding from the state of New York to support their research and service mission in niche fields. Residents of New York enrolled in the contract colleges pay reduced tuition. Furthermore, the governor of the state serves as an ex-officio member of the board of trustees. Despite some similarities, Cornell's contract colleges are not public or state schools – they are private institutions that Cornell operates by contract with the state government.

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. Although students are affiliated with their individual college or school, they may take courses in any of the colleges, provided they have fulfilled the course prerequisites. A handful of inter-school academic departments offer courses in more than one college.

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.



  • College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • School of Hotel Administration


  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • College of Human Ecology
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations

Graduate and professional


  • Graduate School
  • Law School
  • Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Weill Medical College (New York City)
  • Weill Medical College (Qatar)
  • Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences (New York City)


  • College of Veterinary Medicine


Main campus

McGraw Hall and the clock tower
McGraw Hall and the clock tower

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. Since then, it has swelled to about 745 acres (3.0 km²), encompassing both the hill and much of the surrounding areas.

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. Central Campus has laboratories, administrative buildings, and almost all of the university's academic buildings, athletic facilities, auditoriums, and museums. The only residential facility on Central Campus is the Law School's residential college, 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. Collegetown contains the Schwartz Performing Arts Centre and two upperclass dormitories, amid a neighbourhood of apartments, restaurants, and businesses.

F.R. Newman Arboretum
F.R. Newman Arboretum

The main campus is marked by an irregular layout and eclectic architectural styles, including ornate 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 favour of less expensive and more rapidly constructed styles. 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. Because the terrace plan was dropped, McGraw Hall appears to face the wrong direction, facing the Slope rather than the Arts Quad.

The Ithaca Campus is among the rolling valleys of the Finger Lakes region and, atop the Hill, commands a panoramic view of the surrounding area. Two gorges bound Central Campus, which become popular swimming holes during the warmer months. Adjacent to the main campus, Cornell owns the 2,900-acre (11.7 km²) Cornell Plantations, a botanical garden containing flowers, trees, and ponds along manicured trails.

New York City campus

Weill Medical Center in New York City
Weill Medical Centre in New York City

Weill Medical Centre, often called Weill Cornell, is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It is home to two Cornell divisions, Weill Medical College and Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and has been affiliated with the New York-Presbyterian Hospital since 1927. Although their faculty and academic divisions are separate, the Medical Centre shares its administrative functions with the Columbia University Medical Centre. Weill Medical College is also affiliated with the neighboring Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, 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.

In addition to the medical centre, 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. The College of Human Ecology and the 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. Students with the School of Industrial and Labor Relations' Extension & Outreach Program make workplace expertise available to organizations, union members, policy makers, and working adults. The College of Engineering's Operations Research Manhattan, in the city's financial district, brings together business optimization research and decision support services aimed at strengthening industry and public sector collaboration. 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.

Qatar campus

Weill 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 enhance its international influence. The College is a joint initiative of the Qatar government to strengthen its academic programs and provide better medical care in the country. 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.

The college is partially funded by the Qatar government through the Qatar Foundation, which contributed US$750 million for its construction. The medical centre is housed in a large two-story structure designed by Arata Isozaki. In 2004, the Qatar Foundation announced the construction of a 350–bed Specialty Teaching Hospital near the medical college in Education City. The hospital will be completed in 2009 and is supported by an $8 billion endowment.

Other facilities

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

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. It also operates three substations, Vineyard Research Laboratory in Fredonia, Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland and the Long Island Horticultural Research Laboratory in Riverhead.

The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Sapsucker Woods in Ithaca, New York performs research on biological diversity, primarily in birds. In 2005, the lab announced that it had rediscovered the Ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct. The Animal Science Teaching and Research Centre in Harford, New York and the Duck Research Laboratory in Eastport, New York are resources for information on animal disease control and husbandry. 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. The mission of the Cornell Biological Field Station in Bridgeport, New York is "to provide a centre for long-term ecological research and support the University's educational programs, with special emphasis on freshwater lacustrine systems." In addition, the university operates biodiversity laboratories in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and in the Amazon rainforest in Peru.

The university also maintains offices for study abroad and scholarship programs. Cornell in Washington is a program that allows students to study for a semester in Washington, D.C. in research and internship positions while earning credit toward a degree. 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. 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.



Admission to Cornell is extremely selective. For the undergraduate class of 2010, the admission rate was 24.7%, the most selective in the university's history. With the most selective undergraduate college being the Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences that admitted only 14.6% of applicants. For the class of 2009, 33.8% enrolled through early decision. Of enrolling students, 67% scored above 650 on the SAT Verbal exam and 82% scored above 650 on the SAT Math exam. Eighty-two percent of enrolling students were ranked in the top ten percent of their high school classes. Sixty-eight percent of new undergraduate students hailed from public high schools.

Cornell enrolls students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 120 countries. As of Fall 2005, 28% of undergraduate student identified themselves as members of ethnic minority groups. Ninety-six percent of first-year students return for their second year. Of 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.

In 2005, the Graduate School accepted 21.6% of applicants, the Johnson School of Management accepted 34.4%, the Law School accepted 20.6%, and the Veterinary School accepted 10.9%. The Weill Cornell Medical School accepted 4.3%.


Carl Sagan with a model of the Viking Mars Lander at Death Valley, California.
Carl Sagan with a model of the Viking Mars Lander at Death Valley, California.

For the August 2005 to May 2006 academic year, Cornell University had 1,594 full-time and part-time academic faculty members affiliated with its main campus. The New York City medical divisions count 1,005 faculty members and Qatar has 34. In total, 40 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Cornell as faculty or students. Notable former professors include Carl Sagan, Charles Evans Hughes, Norman Malcolm, Vladimir Nabokov, Hans Bethe, Richard Feynman, Kip Thorne, Archie Randolph Ammons, and Allan Bloom.

Hans Bethe
Hans Bethe

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 Honour 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.

On June 11, 2005, Jeffrey S. Lehman announced that he would resign from the position of Cornell President effective June 30, 2005, citing "differences with the board regarding the strategy for realizing Cornell's long-term vision." Former Cornell President Hunter R. Rawlings III served as interim president for the 2005-06 academic year. David J. Skorton, former president of the University of Iowa, assumed office July 1, 2006.

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. In addition to traditional academic programs, Cornell students may study abroad on any of six continents.

The Asian Studies major, South Asia Program, Southeast Asia Program, and the newly launched 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. 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, as well as the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, 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.

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. The university is also developing the Bridging the Rift Centre, 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.

Cornell has partnered with Queen's University in Canada to offer a joint Executive MBA. The only program of its kind in the world, graduates of the program earn both a Cornell MBA and a Queen's MBA. This program is made possible through videoconferencing, and so students in Canada and the United States share an interactive virtual classroom.


Cornell Law Tower
Cornell Law Tower

The university ranked 12th (tied with Washington University in St. Louis) in the 2007 U.S. News & World Report National Universities ranking and 12th globally in an academic ranking of world universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2006. Britain's Times Higher Education Supplement ranked Cornell 14th in the world in 2005. Cornell was ranked eighth nationally and first among Ivy League universities in The Washington Monthly's 2006 ranking of universities' contributions to research, community service, and social mobility. In 2006, The Princeton Review reported that Cornell ranked ninth as a "dream college" for high school students and their parents.

Sage Hall, home to the Johnson School of Management
Sage Hall, home to the Johnson School of Management

Among business schools in the United States, the Johnson Graduate School of Management was ranked 7th by BusinessWeek in 2004, 9th by Forbes in 2005, 16th by U.S. News in 2007, and 18th by The Wall Street Journal in 2005. Worldwide, the school was ranked 17th by The Economist in 2005 and 36th by the Financial Times in 2006.

Cornell's Undergraduate Business Program ranked #11 Nationally in US News & World Report's Best Undergraduate Business Programs for 2007.

U.S. News ranked the Weill Cornell Medical School as the 15th best in the United States in its 2007 edition. The College of Veterinary Medicine was ranked first among national veterinary medicine graduate schools. The Cornell Law School was ranked as the 13th best graduate law program among national universities. 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.

In its 2006 ranking and 2007 ranking of undergraduate engineering programs at universities in the United States, U.S. News placed Cornell first in engineering physics. In 1954, Conrad Hilton called the Cornell School of Hotel Administration "the greatest hotel school in the world."

According to the National Research Council, Cornell ranks sixth nationally in the number of graduate programs in the top ten in their fields . Cornell had 19 ranked in the top 10 in terms of overall academic quality: Astrophysics (9), Chemistry (6), Civil Engineering (6), Comparative Literature (6), Computer Science (5), Ecology (4), Electrical Engineering (7), English (7), French (8), Geosciences (10), German (3), Linguistics (9), Materials Science (3), Mechanical Engineering (7), Philosophy (9), Physics (6), Spanish (8), Political Science (8) and Statistics/ Biostatistics (4). 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.


The Cornell Law Library, Myron Taylor Hall
The Cornell Law Library, Myron Taylor Hall

The Cornell University Library is the eleventh largest academic library in the United States, ranked by number of volumes held. Organized into twenty 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. It was the first among all U.S. colleges and universities to allow undergraduates to borrow books from its libraries. In 2006, The Princeton Review ranked it as the 11th best college library.

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.


The Cornell University Press, established in 1869 but inactive from 1884 to 1930, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States. It was established in the College of the Mechanic Arts (as mechanical engineering was called in the 19th century) because engineers knew more than literature professors did about running steam-powered printing presses. From its inception, the press has offered work-study financial aid: students with previous training in the printing trades were paid for typesetting and running the presses that printed textbooks, pamphlets, a weekly student journal, and official university publications.

Today, the press is one of the country's largest university presses. 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. The press's acquisitions, editorial, production, and marketing departments have been located in Sage House since 1993, and the financial department is on Cascadilla Street in downtown Ithaca.

Student life


For the 2005-06 academic year, Cornell had 886 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. They are subsidized financially by academic departments and/or the Student Assembly, a student-run organization with a budget of $2.7 million per year. The assembly also finances other student life programs including a concert commission and an on-campus movie theatre. 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.

Organized in 1868, the oldest student organization is the Cornell University Glee Club. The Cornell Daily Sun is the oldest continuously independent college daily newspaper in the United States, having published since September 1880. In 1912, it became the first collegiate member of the Associated Press. Other campus publications include The Cornell Lunatic (campus humor magazine), The Cornell Review, Turn Left, The Cornell American, The Cornell Centrist, and The Cornell Moderator. WVBR is an independent radio station owned and operated by Cornell students, but not affiliated with or controlled by the university. During the week, it plays mostly rock music, and switches to specialty shows and community programming on the weekend. It also provides coverage of both Cornell and national sports.

Cornell hosts the second largest fraternity and sorority system in North America, with 66 chapters involving 28% of male and 22% of female undergraduates. During the 2004-05 academic year, the Greek system committed 21,668 community service and advocacy hours and raised $176,547 in philanthropic efforts. However, the administration has expressed concerns over student misconduct in the system. In 2004-05, of 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. Student misconduct is reviewed by the Judicial Administrator, Cornell's justice system. Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans, was founded at Cornell in 1906. Alpha Phi Alpha's charter was revoked in 1996 due to a hazing incident involving Cornell student Sylvester Lloyd due to allegations of intense physical beatings.


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. 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 Centre, the Multicultural Living Learning Unit, the Latino Living Centre, Akwe:kon, and Ujamaa.

Risley has served as the basis for the new residential colleges
Risley has served as the basis for the new residential colleges

In an attempt to create a sense of community and an atmosphere of education outside the classroom and continue Andrew Dickson White's vision, the university has undertaken the $250 million residential college project on West Campus. The Class Halls will be demolished and rebuilt as five residential colleges named after notable deceased Cornell professors. The first, Alice Cook House, was opened to students in 2004, followed by Carl Becker House in 2005. The next house will be Hans Bethe House and is expected to open in January 2007. 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. Like Risley, the new houses will have their own dining halls, student governments, in-house lectures, house trips, and crests. The completion of the five-house residential college campus will occur in August 2009.

Balch Hall is a women-only dormitory on North Campus
Balch Hall is a women-only dormitory on North Campus

Off campus, many homes in the East Hill neighborhoods adjacent to the university have been converted to apartments. Several high-rise apartment complexes have been constructed in the Collegetown neighbourhood. Nine percent of undergraduate students reside in fraternity and sorority houses, although freshmen are not permitted to live in them. Housing cooperatives or other independent living units exist, including Watermargin, Telluride House, the Centre for Jewish Living, and the Wait Cooperative.

In its 2006 rankings of college campus food, The Princeton Review ranked Cornell's dining services fourth overall. The university has 31 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 eight all-you-care-to-eat dining halls.


Schoellkopf Field, home to Football, Sprint Football, Lacrosse, and Field Hockey
Schoellkopf Field, home to Football, Sprint Football, Lacrosse, and Field Hockey

Cornell has 36 varsity sports teams that are known as the Big Red. An NCAA Division I-AA institution, Cornell is a member of the Ivy League and ECAC Hockey League and competes in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), the largest athletic conference in North America. (Note that the ECAC Hockey League is no longer affiliated with the ECAC.) The men's ice hockey team is the most historically successful of the varsity teams and is the university's most intently followed sport. Generally, although Cornell's varsity athletic teams typically earn their "share" of Ivy League titles, they do not perform well in the ECAC conference or the NCAA overall, and fail to compete consistently for national championships in most sports. Because of the Ivy League athletic agreement, the university is not permitted to offer academic scholarships for athletic recruiting.

Cornell University's football team has won the Ivy League championship three times, last in 1990. The Sprint Football team won the league championship in 2006. The men's ice hockey team has been NCAA champion twice, ECAC champion 11 times and Ivy League champion 19 times, and recorded the only undefeated season in NCAA Division I Hockey history in 1970. The men's lacrosse team has been NCAA champion three times and Ivy League champion 21 times. The women's polo team has won the National Women's Polo Championship 11 times and the women's hockey team has been Ivy League champion 8 times. In total, Cornell's varsity athletic teams have been champions of the NCAA, ECAC, or Ivy League 114 times.

The Men's Ice Hockey Team at Lynah Rink
The Men's Ice Hockey Team at Lynah Rink

Cornell maintains athletic rivalries with other collegiate institutions. The men's ice hockey team has a historic rivalry with Boston University, but since BU left what became the ECAC Hockey League to join Hockey East, rivalry with Harvard University has become predominant. Following tradition, when Harvard plays the men's ice hockey team at Cornell's Lynah Rink, some Big Red fans throw fish on the ice.

Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania are long-time rivals in football. With more than 114 games played since their first meeting in 1893, this is the seventh most-played rivalry in college football. Cornell's football series against both the University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College are tied for second longest uninterrupted college football match-ups in history, both dating back to 1919. In polo, the men's and women's teams maintain rivalries with the University of Virginia and the University of Connecticut.

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 horseshoes, such unusual offerings as "inner tube water polo" and formerly "broomstick polo" have been offered, as well as a sports trivia competition. Cornell students also often participate in the International Rutabaga Curling Championship, held annually at the Ithaca Farmers' Market.


An early Dragon Day parade, circa 1920
An early Dragon Day parade, circa 1920

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, 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. 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 centre of the Quad, and shake hands. The university is also host to various student pranks. For example, on at least three 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, once a banner reading "Who is John Galt?", 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.

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. 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". "Cornellian" is also used as an adjective and as the name of the university's yearbook.


For the 2004–05 fiscal year, the university spent $561.3 million on research. 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). 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. Cornell was on the top-ten list of U.S. universities receiving the most patents in 2003, and is one of the nation's top five institutions in forming start-up companies. 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.

An artist's rendering of a Mars Exploration Rover as seen on the "Big Red" planet.
An artist's rendering of a Mars Exploration Rover as seen on the "Big Red" planet.

Since 1962, Cornell has been involved in unmanned missions to Mars. 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. 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 honours by Science. Control of the Mars rovers has shifted between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and Cornell's Space Sciences Building.

The Automotive Crash Injury Research project was begun in 1952 by John O. Moore at the Cornell Aeronautical Research Laboratories, which spun off in 1972 as Calspan Corporation. 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. The project led Liberty Mutual to fund the building of a demonstration Cornell Safety Car in 1956, which received national publicity and influenced carmakers. Carmakers soon started their own crash-test laboratories and gradually adopted many of the Cornell innovations. Other ideas, such as rear-facing passenger seats, never found favour with carmakers or the public.

The Cornell Theory Center, Rhodes Hall
The Cornell Theory Centre, Rhodes Hall

In 1984, the National Science Foundation began work on establishing five new supercomputer centers, including the Cornell Theory Centre, to provide high-speed computing resources for research within the United States. In 1985, a team from the National Centre for Supercomputing Applications began the development of NSFNet, a TCP/IP-based computer network that could connect to the ARPANET, at the Cornell Theory Centre 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.

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. 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.

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.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Graduates of Cornell are known as "Cornellians". As of August 2005, the university counted 244,276 living Cornellians. 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. 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. .

Cornellians are noted for their accomplishments in public, professional, and corporate life. Former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui, former President of Cuba Mario García Menocal, and former Iranian Prime Minister Jamshid Amuzegar all graduated from Cornell. In the United States, numerous Congressmen and Cabinet members, including Paul Wolfowitz and Janet Reno, and one Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have been Cornellians. After his Cornell education, David Starr Jordan went on to become the founding president of Stanford University and a president of Indiana University. M. Carey Thomas founded Bryn Mawr College and was its second president.

Cornellian-founded and/or headed businesses include Alamo Rent-A-Car by Michael Egan, Burger King by David Edgerton, Carrier by Willis Carrier, Coors Brewing Company by Adolph Coors, Gannett by Frank Gannett, Grumman Aerospace Corporation by Leroy Grumman, Palm by Jeff Hawkins, PeopleSoft by David Duffield, by Jay Walker, Qualcomm by Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs, Staples by Myra Hart, and Tata Group headed by Ratan Tata.

In medicine, Dr. Robert Atkins developed the Atkins Diet, Dr. Henry Heimlich developed the Heimlich maneuver, and Wilson Greatbatch invented the first successful pacemaker. Dr. James Maas, both an alumnus and current faculty member, coined the term " power nap". Cornellians also include medical personalities Dr. Benjamin Spock and Joyce Brothers, as well as the Nobel laureate maize geneticist Barbara McClintock.

A number of Cornellians have been prominent innovators, starting with Thomas Midgley, Jr., the inventor of Freon. Jeff Hawkins invented the Palm Pilot and subsequently founded Palm, Inc. Graduate Jon Rubinstein 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. Jill Tarter is the current director of SETI and Steve Squyres is the principal investigator on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. Eight Cornellians have served as NASA astronauts. Bill Nye is best known as " The Science Guy".

Nobel Prize in Literature winner Toni Morrison wrote Song of Solomon and won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Beloved. The Nobel Prize in Literature was also awarded to Pearl S. Buck, author of The Good Earth. E. B. White, 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 Laura Z. Hobson, Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut. Cornellian journalists include Margaret Bourke-White, Ann Coulter, Allison Danzig, Dick Schaap, Keith Olbermann, Kate Snow, and radio personality/former congressional candidate, Dave Ross.

Christopher Reeve is best known for his role as Superman, while comedian Frank Morgan is best known to younger generations as The Wizard of Oz. Stand-up comedian Bill Maher, host of the HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher is said to have been Politically Incorrect even as an undergraduate at Cornell. Jimmy Smits, 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. Charlie Bucket was played by future Cornellian Peter Ostrum, and alumnus Robert Smigel is the puppeteer behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. Cornellians have won Academy Awards and been enshrined on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Mack David wrote Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo from the 1950 film Cinderella. Robert Alexander Anderson wrote the Christmas song Mele Kalikimaka. Greg Graffin of the band Bad Religion, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, pop star Huey Lewis, and modern composer Steve Reich all attended Cornell.

The Empire State Building and Grauman's Chinese Theatre were designed by Cornell architects Richard Shreve and Raymond M. Kennedy, respectively. Edmund Bacon is best known for reshaping Philadelphia in the mid 20th century.

In athletics, Cornellians have won Olympic gold medals, been inducted into sports halls of fame, and led numerous teams as general managers and coaches including Bruce Arena, former head coach of the United States men's national soccer team.

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