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Cornell University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cornell University
Latin: Universitas Cornelliana
Motto“I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study”[1][2]
TypePrivate[3] land-grant research university
EstablishedApril 28, 1864; 160 years ago (1864-04-28)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$10.0 billion (2023)[4]
Budget$5.4 billion (2023)[5]
PresidentMichael Kotlikoff
ProvostJohn Siliciano
Academic staff
1,639 – Ithaca, New York
1,235 – NYC, New York
34 – Doha, Qatar
Students26,284 (Fall 2023)[6]
Undergraduates16,071 (Fall 2023)[6]
Postgraduates10,207 (Fall 2023)[6]
Location, ,
United States

42°27′13″N 76°28′26″W / 42.45361°N 76.47389°W / 42.45361; -76.47389
CampusSmall city[7], 745 acres (301 ha)[citation needed]
Other campuses[8]
ColorsCarnelian red and white[9]
NicknameBig Red
Sporting affiliations
MascotTouchdown the Bear (unofficial)[10]

Cornell University is a private Ivy League land-grant research university based in Ithaca, New York. The university was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. Since its founding, Cornell has been a co-educational and nonsectarian institution. As of fall 2023, the student body included over 16,000 undergraduate and 10,000 graduate students from all 50 U.S. states and 130 countries.[6]

The university is organized into eight undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions on its main Ithaca campus.[11] Each college and academic division has near autonomy in defining its respective admission standards and academic curriculum. In addition to its primary campus in Ithaca, the university administers three satellite campuses, including two in New York City and one in the Education City region of Qatar.[11]

Cornell is one of the few private land-grant universities in the United States.[a] Among the university's eight undergraduate colleges, four are state-supported statutory or contract colleges through the State University of New York system, including its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, its College of Human Ecology, its Industrial Labor Relations School, and the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. Among Cornell's graduate schools, only its Veterinary Medicine College is supported by New York state. The main campus of Cornell University in Ithaca spans 745 acres (301 ha).

As of October 2023, 62 Nobel laureates, 4 Turing Award winners, and 1 Fields Medalist have been affiliated with Cornell. Cornell counts more than 250,000 living alumni, which include 34 Marshall Scholars,[12] 33 Rhodes Scholars, 29 Truman Scholars, 63 Olympic Medalists, 10 current Fortune 500 CEOs, and 35 billionaires.[13][14][15][16][17]

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
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  • Weill Cornell's Belfer Research Building Comes to Life



19th century

Cornell University was founded on April 27, 1865, by Ezra Cornell, an entrepreneur and New York State Senator, and Andrew Dickson White, an educator and also a New York State Senator, after the New York State legislature authorized the university as the state's land grant institution.[18] Ezra Cornell offered his farm in Ithaca, New York as a preliminary site for the university, and granted $500,000 of his personal fortune as an initial endowment (equivalent to $12,373,000 in 2023) to the university. White agreed to be Cornell University's first president.

During the first three years of Cornell University, White oversaw the construction of the first two buildings and traveled to recruit promising students and faculty.[19] The university was inaugurated on October 7, 1868, and 412 male students were enrolled the following day.[20]

Cornell developed as a technologically innovative institution, applying its academic research to its own campus and to outreach efforts. In 1883, it was one of the first university campuses to use electricity from a water-powered dynamo to light the campus grounds.[21] Since 1894, Cornell has included colleges that are state-funded and fulfill state statutory requirements;[22] it has also administered research and extension activities that have been jointly funded by New York state with U.S. federal government matching funds.[23]

Beginning with its first classes, Cornell University has had active and engaged alumni. In 1872, the university became one of the first universities in the nation to include alumni-elected representatives on its board of trustees.[b]

Cornell University is home to Cornell University Press, founded in 1869, the country's oldest publishing enterprise. Cornell was first home to the Cornell Era, a weekly campus publication founded in 1868. In 1880, The Cornell Daily Sun, an independent student-run newspaper, was founded at the university. The Cornell Daily Sun is one of the nation's longest continuously published student publications.

In the 19th century, Cornell had several literary societies that were founded to encourage writing, reading, and oration skills. The U.S. Bureau of Education described three of them as a "purely literary society" following the "traditions of the old literary societies of Eastern universities, but they largely folded by the 20th century.

20th century

In 1967, Cornell experienced a fire in the Residential Club dormitory that killed eight students and one professor. In the late 1960s, Cornell was among the Ivy League universities that experienced heightened student activism related to cultural issues, civil rights, and opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1969, armed anti-Vietnam War protesters occupied Willard Straight Hall, leading to the resignation of Cornell president James Alfred Perkins and the restructuring of university governance.[27]

In 1995, the National Research Council ranked Cornell's Ph.D. programs as sixth-best in the nation. It also ranked the following Cornell Ph.D. programs among the ten best in the nation in terms of academic quality: astrophysics (ninth-best), chemistry (sixth-best), civil engineering (sixth-best), comparative literature (sixth-best), computer science (fifth-best), ecology (fourth-best), electrical engineering (seventh-best), English (seventh-best), French (eighth-best), geosciences (tenth-best), German (third-best), linguistics (ninth-best), materials science (third-best), mechanical engineering (seventh-best), philosophy (ninth-best), physics (sixth-best), Spanish (eighth-best), and statistics/biostatistics (fourth-best). The council ranked Cornell's College of Arts and Humanities faculty as fifth-best in the nation, its Mathematics and Physical Sciences as sixth-best, and its College of Engineering as fifth-best.[28][29]

21st century

Since 2000, Cornell has been expanding its international programs. In 2004, the university opened Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.[30] It also has established partnerships with academic institutions in India, the People's Republic of China, and Singapore.[31][32][33]

In August 2002, the graduate student group, At What Cost?, was formed at Cornell to oppose a graduate student unionization drive run by CASE/UAW, an affiliate of the United Auto Workers. The unionization vote was held October 23–24, 2002, and the union was rejected. At What Cost? was considered instrumental in the unusually large 90% turnout for the vote and in the 2-to-1 defeat of the unionization proposal. There had been no prior instance in American graduate student unionization history where a unionization proposal was defeated by a vote.[34][35][36]

On March 9, 2004, Cornell and Stanford University laid the cornerstone for a "Bridging the Rift Center" to be built and jointly operated for education on the IsraelJordan border.[37] In 2005, Jeffrey S. Lehman, a former president of Cornell, described the university and its high international profile as a "transnational university".[38]

In 2017, Cornell opened Cornell Tech, a graduate campus and research center on Roosevelt Island in New York City, which won a competition bid initiated by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to spur technology entrepreneurship in New York City.


Ithaca campus

The Arts Quad on Cornell's main campus with McGraw Tower in the background
Ho Plaza seen from McGraw Tower with Sage Hall and Barnes Hall in the background
Sage Chapel on the Cornell campus hosts religious services and concerts and is the final resting place of Ezra Cornell, the university's founder.

Cornell University's main campus is located in Ithaca, New York, on East Hill, offering views of the city and Cayuga Lake. The campus has expanded to approximately 745 acres (301 ha) since its founding, comprising academic buildings, laboratories, administrative facilities, athletic centers, auditoriums, museums, and residential areas.[39][40] In 2011, Travel + Leisure recognized the Ithaca Campus as one of the most beautiful in the United States, praising its unique blend of architectural styles, historic landmarks, and picturesque surroundings.[41]

The Ithaca campus is characterized by an irregular layout and a mix of architectural styles, which have developed over time due to the university's ever-changing master plans for the campus. The more ornate buildings generally predate World War II. Since then, more recent buildings on the campus are characterized by modernist architectural styles.[42]

Several Cornell University buildings have been named National Historic Landmarks,[43] Ten Cornell buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Andrew Dickson White House, Bailey Hall, Caldwell Hall, the Computing and Communications Center, Morrill Hall, Rice Hall, Fernow Hall, Wing Hall, Llenroc, and the Deke House at 13 South Avenue.[44] Three other listed historic buildings, the original Roberts Hall, East Robert Hall, and Stone Hall, were demolished in the 1980s to make way for new campus buildings and development.[45]

Central, North, and West campuses

The majority of academic and administrative facilities are located at Central Campus. The architectural styles on Central Campus range from ornate Collegiate Gothic, Victorian, and Neoclassical buildings to more spare international, and modernist structures. Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park, proposed a "grand terrace" overlooking Cayuga Lake in one of the earliest plans for the campus.[46]

North Campus features primarily residential buildings, with ten residence halls designed to accommodate first and second-year students, as well as transfer students in the Townhouse Community.[47] The architectural styles of North Campus are more modern, reflecting the growth of the university and the need for additional housing during the mid-20th century.

The West Campus House System showcases a blend of architectural styles, with five main residence halls and several Gothic-style buildings collectively known as "the Gothics." These Collegiate Gothic structures add a sense of historical charm to the campus, while the modern residence halls provide comfortable accommodations for students."[48]

In the nearby Collegetown neighborhood of Ithaca, the architectural styles are more diverse, reflecting the area's mixed-use nature. The Schwartz Performing Arts Center and two upper-level residence halls[49][50] are surrounded by a variety of apartment buildings, eateries, and businesses, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere for students and residents alike.[51]

Natural surroundings

The Ithaca campus is located in the Finger Lakes region and has views of the city, Cayuga Lake, and the surrounding valleys. The campus is bordered by two gorges, Fall Creek Gorge and Cascadilla Gorge, which contribute to the university's natural landscape. Although these gorges are popular swimming spots during warmer months, their use is discouraged by the university and city code due to potential safety hazards.[52] Adjacent to the main campus, Cornell owns the 2,800-acre (1,100 ha) Cornell Botanic Gardens, featuring various plants, trees, and ponds. The gardens' trails allow visitors to explore the natural surroundings.[53]


Cornell University has implemented various green initiatives to promote sustainability and reduce its environmental impact. Key projects include a gas-fired combined heat and power facility,[54] an on-campus hydroelectric plant,[55] and a lake source cooling system.[56] In 2007, Cornell established a Center for a Sustainable Future.[57] The university has committed to achieving net carbon neutrality by 2035[58] and, as of 2020, is powered by six solar farms providing a total of 28 megawatts of power.[59] Additionally, Cornell is developing an enhanced geothermal system, Earth Source Heating, to meet campus heating needs.[60] Cornell was the first university in the United States to commit to Kyoto Protocol emission reductions.[61] Following a multiyear, cross-campus discussion about energy and sustainability, the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability was established in 2007, and received an $80 million gift from alumnus David R. Atkinson '60 and his wife Patricia, the largest gift ever received from an individual at Cornell University at that time, and a subsequent $30 million commitment in 2021 will name a new multidisciplinary building on campus.[62]

In 2023, a concert at Barton Hall by Dead and Company raised $3.1 million for organizations MusiCares and the Cornell 2030 Project, which has contributed to the establishment of the Climate Solutions Fund. The fund aims to catalyze large-scale, impactful climate research across the university and will be administered by the Atkinson Center.[63][64]

New York City campuses

Weill Cornell

Weill Medical Center on the East River of New York City's Upper East Side

Cornell's medical campus in New York City, also called Weill Cornell, is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. 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.[65] Although their faculty and academic divisions are separate, the Medical Center shares administrative and teaching hospital functions with the Columbia University Medical Center.[66] These teaching hospitals include the Payne Whitney Clinic in Manhattan and the Westchester Division in White Plains, New York.[67] 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. Weill Cornell, Rockefeller, and Memorial Sloan–Kettering offer the Tri-Institutional MD–PhD Program to selected entering Cornell medical students.[68] From 1942 to 1979, the campus also housed the Cornell School of Nursing.[69]

Cornell Tech

Cornell Tech in New York City, a graduate campus and research center

On December 19, 2011, Cornell and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa won a competition for rights to claim free city land and $100 million in subsidies to build an engineering campus in New York City. The competition was established by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to increase entrepreneurship and job growth in the city's technology sector. The winning bid consisted of a 2.1 million square foot state-of-the-art tech campus to be built on Roosevelt Island, on the site of the former Coler Specialty Hospital. Instruction began in the fall of 2012, in a temporary location at 111 Eighth Avenue in Manhattan in space donated by Google.[70] Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects, was selected to design the first building to be constructed on Roosevelt Island. Construction on it began in 2014, and the first phase was completed in September 2017.[71]

Other New York City programs

Over a dozen Cornell University programs are based in the General Electric Building in Manhattan.[72]

In addition to the tech campus and medical center, Cornell maintains local offices in New York City for some of its service programs. The Cornell Urban Scholars Program encourages students to pursue public service careers, arranging assignments with organizations working with New York City's poorest children, families, and communities.[73] The College of Human Ecology and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences enable students to reach out to local communities by gardening and building with the Cornell Cooperative Extension.[74] Students with the School of Industrial and Labor Relations' Extension and Outreach Program make workplace expertise available to organizations, union members, policymakers, and working adults.[75] 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.[76] The College of Architecture, Art, and Planning has an 11,000 square foot, Gensler-designed facility at 26 Broadway in the Financial District, that opened in 2015.[77] The General Electric Building at 570 Lexington Avenue serves as the New York City location for over a dozen programs, including the New York City headquarters of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the New York City branch of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.[72]

Qatar campus

Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar is in Education City, near Doha. Opened in September 2004, it was the first American medical school to be established outside of 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.[30] Along with its full four-year MD program, which mirrors the curriculum taught at Weill Cornell Medicine 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.[78]

The college is partially funded by the Qatar government through the Qatar Foundation, a Qatar state-led non-profit organization, which contributed $750 million for its construction.[79] The medical center is housed in a large two-story structure designed by Arata Isozaki, an internationally known Japanese architect.[80] In 2004, the Qatar Foundation, announced the construction of a 350-bed Specialty Teaching Hospital near the medical college in Education City in Al Rayyan. The hospital was to be completed in a few years.[30]

Other facilities

Cornell University owns and operates a variety of off-campus research facilities and offers study abroad and scholarship programs.[81] These facilities and programs contribute to the university's research endeavors and provide students with unique learning opportunities.

Research facilities

A World War I memorial on Cornell's West Campus in Ithaca
Cornell's Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, designed by I. M. Pei

Cornell's off-campus research facilities include Shoals Marine Laboratory, a seasonal marine field station on Appledore Island off the MaineNew Hampshire coast, is operated in conjunction with the University of New Hampshire and focuses on undergraduate education and research.[82] Until 2011, Cornell operated the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which was the site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope.[83]

The university also maintains several facilities dedicated to conservation and ecology, such as the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. This station operates three substations, including the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland,[84] the Hudson Valley Laboratory in Highland,[85] and the Long Island Horticultural Research Laboratory in Riverhead.[86] The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca conducts research on biological diversity, primarily in birds,[87]

Other research facilities include the Animal Science Teaching and Research Center, the Duck Research Laboratory, the Cornell Biological Field Station, the Freeville Organic Research Farm, the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm, and biodiversity laboratories in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and the Peruvian Amazonia.[88][89][90][91][92][15]

Study abroad and scholarship programs

Cornell offers various study abroad and scholarship programs that allow students to gain experience and earn credit towards their degrees. The "Capital Semester" program offers students the opportunity to intern in the New York State Legislature in Albany. The Cornell in Washington program enables students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., participating in research or internships.[93] Similarly, the Cornell in Rome program, allows students to study architecture, urban studies, and the arts in Rome, Italy.[94] The university is also a member of the Laidlaw Scholars program which provides funding to undergraduates to conduct internationally focused research and foster leadership skills.[95]

Cooperative extension service

As New York State's land-grant university, Cornell operates a cooperative extension service with 56 offices spread across the state. These offices provide programs in agriculture and food systems, children, youth and families, community and economic vitality, environment and natural resources, and nutrition and health.[96] Additionally, the university operates New York's Animal Health Diagnostic Center, which serves as a valuable resource for animal disease control and husbandry.[97]

Organization and administration

Cornell University is a non-profit organization with a decentralized structure where colleges and schools exercise wide autonomy in defining academic programs, admissions, advising, and conferring degrees. The university comprises nine privately endowed colleges and four publicly supported statutory colleges, offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Cornell operates eCornell for online professional development and certificate programs[98] and participates in New York's land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant programs.[99][100]

College/school founding
College/school Year founded

Agriculture and Life Sciences 1874
Architecture, Art, and Planning 1871
Arts and Sciences 1865
Business 1946
Computing and Information Science 2020
Engineering 1870
Graduate School 1909
Hotel Administration 1922
Human Ecology 1925
Industrial and Labor Relations 1945
Law 1887
Medical Sciences 1952
Medicine 1898
Public Policy 2021
Tech 2011
Veterinary Medicine 1894

Governance and administration

Cornell University is governed by a 64-member board of trustees, which includes both privately and publicly appointed trustees. The board includes trustees appointed by the Governor of New York, alumni-elected trustees, faculty-elected trustees, student-elected trustees,[101] and non-academic staff-elected trustees. The Governor, Temporary President of the Senate, Speaker of the Assembly, and president of the university serve in an ex officio voting capacity. The board is responsible for electing a President to serve as the chief executive and educational officer.[102][103] Robert Harrison served as the chairman of the board from 2014 to 2022.[104] The Board of Trustees holds four regular meetings each year, subject to the New York State Open Meetings Law.[105] Kraig Kayser has served as the chairman of the board since 2022.

Michael I. Kotlikoff, who served as the 16th provost of the university, began a two-year term as interim president on July 1, 2024,[106] succeeding Martha E. Pollack, Cornell's fourteenth president, upon her retirement.[107]

Colleges and academic structure

Cornell's colleges and schools offer a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. There are seven undergraduate colleges and seven schools offering graduate and professional programs. All academic departments at Cornell are affiliated with at least one college. A handful of inter-school academic departments offer courses in more than one college. Students pursuing graduate degrees in these schools are enrolled in the Graduate School. The School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions provides additional programs for college and high school students, professionals, and other adults.[108]

Cornell's statutory colleges include 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 colleges received $131.9 million in SUNY appropriations in 2010–2011 to support their teaching, research, and service missions, making them accountable to the State University of New York (SUNY) trustees and other state agencies.[109][110][111] New York residents enrolled in these colleges qualify for discounted tuition, however, their academic activities are considered by New York state to be private and non-state entities.[112]:1

Cornell's nine privately endowed, non-statutory colleges include the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, and College of Hotel Administration. These colleges operate independently of state funding and oversight, giving them greater autonomy in determining their academic programs, admissions, and advising. They also do not offer discounted tuition for New York residents.

Of the 15,182 undergraduate students at Cornell, 4,602 (30.3%) are affiliated with the largest college by enrollment, Arts and Sciences, followed by 3,203 (21.1%) in Engineering and 3,101 (20.4%) in Agriculture and Life Sciences. The smallest of the seven undergraduate colleges is Architecture, Art, and Planning, with 503 (3.3%) students.[6] 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.

Fundraising and financial support

Cornell University has a robust fundraising program, ranking third among U.S. universities in 2018 (behind Harvard and Stanford), collecting $743 million in private support.[113] Each college and program has its own staffed fundraising program, in addition to the central University development staff located in Ithaca and New York City.

In recent years, Cornell has been the recipient of several major donations that have enabled the university to expand its reach, create new programs, and drive advancements in education and research. Charles Feeney, founder of DFS Group, is Cornell's largest donor, having given one billion dollars to the university to fund numerous initiatives, including Cornell Tech, a cutting-edge technology-focused campus in New York City.[114] In 2017, the university also received a donation of $150 million from H. Fisk Johnson of S. C. Johnson & Son to create of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, the second largest ever gift to a business school.[115] Furthermore, the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future was established in 2010 following an $80 million donation from David Atkinson and his wife, Patricia.[116] In 2015, Joan and Irwin M. Jacobs, founder of Qualcomm, donated $133 million to fund the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech.[117] The Weill Cornell Medical College was renamed following a $100 million donation in 1998 from Citibank head Sanford I. Weill and his wife, Joan, with the Weills providing over $600 million in total lifetime donations to the university.[118]


Cornell is a large, primarily residential research university with a majority of enrollments in undergraduate programs.[119] The university has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education or its predecessor since 1921.[120] 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.[121]

Cornell, along with Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Georgia, and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, are the only institutions to be land-grant universities that are also members of the other three "grant" programs: sea grant, space grant, and sun grant. Cornell is the only such private university.


Undergraduate admissions statistics
2022 entering

Admit rate6.9%
Yield rate69%
Test scores middle 50%
SAT EBRW700–760
SAT Math750–800
ACT Composite33–35
High school GPA[i]
Top 10%83.7%
Top 25%97.7%
Top 50%99.9%
  1. ^ Among students whose school ranked

Admission to Cornell University is highly competitive. In spring of 2022 (Class of 2026), Cornell's undergraduate programs received 71,164 applications and admitted only 5,168 for a 7.2% acceptance rate.[123] For Fall 2019 enrolling freshmen, the middle 50% range of SAT scores were 680–760 for evidence-based reading and writing and 720–800 for mathematics.[124] The middle 50% range of the ACT composite score was 32–35.[124]

The university continues to attract a diverse and inclusive student body. The proportion of admitted students who self-identify as underrepresented minorities increased to 34.2% from 33.7% in 2021, and 59.3% self-identify as students of color. That number has increased steadily over the past five years, enrollment officials said, from 52.5% in 2017 and 57.2% in 2020.

Of those admitted, 1,163 will be first-generation college students, another increase over 2020's 844.[125] The university is need-blind for domestic applicants.[126]

Financial aid

The sarcophagus of Jennie McGraw, a Cornell benefactor, in Sage Chapel.

Cornell University, under Section 9 of its original charter, ensures equal access to education by admitting students without distinction based on rank, class, occupation, or locality.[127] The charter also mandates free instruction for one student from each Assembly district in the state.[127]

From the 1950s to the 1980s, Cornell collaborated with other Ivy League institutions to establish a uniform financial aid system.[128] Although a 1989 consent decree ended this collaboration due to an antitrust investigation, all Ivy League schools still offer need-based financial aid without athletic scholarships.[129] In December 2010, Cornell pledged to match any grant component of financial aid offers from other Ivy League schools, MIT, or Stanford for accepted applicants considering these institutions.[130]

In 2008, Cornell introduced a financial aid initiative, gradually replacing need-based loans with scholarships for undergraduate students from lower-income families.[131] Despite a 27% drop in the university's endowment in 2008, the then-president allocated additional funds to continue the initiative, seeking to raise $125 million in donations for its support.[132] By 2010, Cornell successfully met the full financial aid needs of 40% of full-time freshmen with financial need, and the average undergraduate student debt upon graduation was $21,549.[133]

International programs

Cornell students performing a Raas, a traditional folk dance from India, in 2008

Cornell University is actively involved in fostering international cooperation and engagement through various academic programs, research collaborations, and global partnerships. As a member of the United Nations Academic Impact, the university aligns itself with the United Nations' goals and promotes international collaboration among institutions of higher education.

Academic programs and study abroad opportunities

Cornell University's 1920 graduation ceremony

Cornell offers a wide range of undergraduate majors with an international focus, including Africana Studies, Asian-Pacific American Studies, French Studies, German Studies, Jewish Studies, Latino Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Romance Studies, and Russian Literature.[15] Students have the opportunity to study abroad on any of the six continents through various programs.[134]

The Asian Studies major, the Southeast Asia Program, and the China and Asia-Pacific Studies (CAPS) major provide opportunities for students and researchers focusing on Asia. Cornell University has an agreement with Peking University, which allows CAPS students to spend a semester in Beijing.[135] The College of Engineering exchanges faculty and graduate students with Tsinghua University in Beijing, while the School of Hotel Administration has a joint master's program with Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

In the Middle East, Cornell's efforts are centered on biology and medicine. The Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar trains new doctors to improve health services in the region.[136] The university is also involved in 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.[137]

The university also has agreements with several institutions around the world for student and faculty exchange programs, including Bocconi University, the University of Warwick, Japan's National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences,[138] the University of the Philippines Los Baños,[139] and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.[140]

Joint-degree programs

Cornell offers several joint-degree programs with international universities. The university is the only U.S. member school in the Global Alliance in Management Education, and its Master's in International Management program offers the Global Alliance's Master's in International Management (CEMS MIM) as a double degree option. This enables students to study at one of 34 Global Alliance partner universities. Cornell has also partnered with Queen's University in Canada to offer a joint Executive MBA program.[141] Graduates of the program earn both a Cornell MBA and a Queen's MBA. Cornell also offers an international consulting course in association with the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.[142]


Cornell's commencement ceremony at Schoellkopf Field, the university's on-campus outdoor stadium, in 2008

Cornell University has been routinely ranked among the top academic institutions in the nation and world by independent academic ranking asssessments. Notable recent rankings include seventh-best in the U.S. by QS World University Rankings and ninth-best in the world by Times Higher Education World University Rankings.[152][153] The university has garnered praise for its contributions to research, community service, social mobility, and sustainability, evidenced by its placement in The Washington Monthly and The Princeton Review's rankings.[154] In 2017, the university was ranked 7th in The Princeton Review's "Top 50 Green Colleges."[155]

In its annual edition of "America's Best Architecture & Design Schools," the journal Design Intelligence has ranked Cornell's Bachelor of Architecture program as the best in the nation for most of the 21st century, including 2000–2002, 2005–2007, 2009–2013, and 2015–2016. In its 2011 survey, the program ranked first and the Master of Architecture program ranked sixth-best in the nation.[156] In 2017, Design Intelligence ranked Cornell's Master of Landscape Architecture program fourth-best in the nation and the Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture program as fifth-best among its undergraduate counterparts.[157][158]

Among business schools in the United States, Forbes ranked Cornell's Johnson School of Management the ninth-best business school in the nation in 2019.[159] In 2020, The Washington Post ranked the School of Management eighth-best for salary potential, and Poets and Quants ranked it the 13th-best in the nation overall,[160] fourth-best in the nation for investment banking,[161] and sixth-best globally for salary.[162] It was ranked 11th-best nationally by Bloomberg Businessweek in 2019,[163] and 11th-best nationally and 14th-best globally by The Economist the same year.[164] In 2013, the Johnson school was ranked second-best for sustainability by Bloomberg Businessweek.[165]

Cornell's international relations program is ranked among the best in the world by Foreign Policy magazine's Inside the Ivory Tower survey, which ranked Cornell's undergraduate program the 12th-best in the world and its doctorate program 11th-best in the world in 2012.[166][167] In 2015, Cornell was ranked third-best among all New York colleges and universities for professor salaries.[168]


The A.D. White Reading Room in Uris Library, which contains much of the 30,000 volume collection donated to the university by its co-founder and first president
Cornell Law Library, one of 12 national depositories for print records of briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court

The Cornell University Library is the eleventh-largest academic library in the United States, ranked by number of volumes held.[169] As of 2005, the library is organized into 20 divisions, which hold 7.5 million printed volumes in open stacks, 8.2 million microfilms and microfiches, a total of 440,000 maps, motion pictures, DVDs, sound recordings, and computer files in its collections, and extensive digital resources and the University Archives.[170] It was the first among all U.S. colleges and universities to allow undergraduates to borrow books from its libraries.[15] In 2006, The Princeton Review ranked it the 11th-best college library.[171] Three years later, in 2009, it climbed to sixth-best.[172] 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.[173]

Press and scholarly publications

Cornell University Press, established in 1869 but inactive from 1884 to 1930, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States.[174][175] Today, the press is one of the country's largest university presses.[15] 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, politics and international relations, veterinary science, and women's studies.[175][176]

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,[177] 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.[178] Student-led scholarly publications include the Law Review, the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs' Cornell Policy Review, the International Law Journal, the Journal of Law and Public Policy, the International Affairs Review, and the HR Review. Physical Review, recognized internationally as among the best and well known journals of physics, was founded at Cornell in 1893 before being later managed by the American Physical Society.


Cornell's Center for Advanced Computing, one of the five original centers of the National Science Foundation's Supercomputer Centers Program
Cornell Botanic Gardens, located adjacent to the Ithaca campus, used for conservation research and for recreation by Cornellians
In the basement of Goldwin Smith Hall, researchers in the Dendrochronology Lab determine the age of archaeological artifacts found at archeological digs.

Cornell University is a prominent research institution, classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity."[179] The National Science Foundation ranked Cornell 14th among American universities for research and development expenditures in 2021 with $1.18 billion.[180][181] The Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation are the primary federal investors, accounting for 49.6% and 24.4% of all federal investments, respectively.[182] Cornell is ranked fourth in the world for producing graduates who pursue PhDs in engineering or natural sciences at American institutions and fifth for graduates pursuing PhDs in any field.[183]

Science, technology, and engineering research

Cornell has a rich history of scientific, technological, and engineering research accomplishments. The university has made significant contributions to the fields of nuclear physics, high-energy physics, space exploration, automotive safety, and computing technology, among others. Cornell consistently ranks among the top U.S. universities for patent acquisition and start-up company formation.[184] In the 2004–05 academic year, the university 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.[15] In 2009 Cornell spent $671 million on science and engineering research and development, the 16th highest in the United States.[185]

Cornell has been involved in uncrewed missions to Mars since 1962[186] and played a vital role in the Mars Exploration Rover Mission in the 21st century.[187] The university's researchers discovered the rings around the planet Uranus[188] and operated the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico until 2011. This observatory housed the world's largest single-dish radio telescope at the time.[189]

The Automotive Crash Injury Research Center, founded in 1952, was a pioneering effort in crash testing and significantly improved vehicle safety standards.[190] It was the first to use corpses instead of dummies for testing, leading to crucial findings about the effectiveness of seat belts, energy-absorbing steering wheels, padded dashboards, and improved door locks.[190]

Cornell has long been at the forefront of advancements in computing technology. In the 1980s, the university deployed the first IBM 3090-400VF and coupled two IBM 3090-600E systems to investigate coarse-grained parallel computing. As part of the National Science Foundation's initiative to establish new supercomputer centers, the Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing was founded. Cornell has continued to innovate in this area, most recently deploying Red Cloud, a cloud computing service designed specifically for research. The Red Cloud service is now part of the NSF's Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) supercomputing program.[191]

In the realm of high-energy physics, Cornell scientists have been researching fundamental particles for over 75 years. The university has played an integral role in the foundations of nuclear physics, with faculty members Hans Bethe and others participating in the Manhattan Project. In the 1930s, Cornell built the second cyclotron in the United States and, in the 1950s, became the first to study synchrotron radiation. The Cornell Electron Storage Ring, located beneath Alumni Field, was once the world's highest-luminosity electron-positron collider.[192][193] Cornell's accelerator and high-energy physics groups are involved in the design of the proposed International Linear Collider, which will complement the Large Hadron Collider and shed light on questions related to dark matter and the existence of extra dimensions.[194]

Philosophical research

The Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell has its roots in the late 19th century, thanks to the philanthropic endeavors of Henry W. Sage, a prominent figure in the lumber industry. In 1891, Sage endowed the establishment of the Sage School.[195] The school's namesake, Susan Linn Sage, died in 1885 in a carriage accident on Slaterville Road. Henry W. Sage, who had served as the President of Cornell's Board of Trustees since 1875, sought to honor his late wife's memory through the establishment of the Sage School. In addition to the school's founding, Sage bestowed the title of Susan Linn Sage Professor of Christian Ethics and Mental Philosophy upon Cornell president Jacob Gould Schurman, further cementing Susan Linn Sage's legacy within the institution.[195]

A cornerstone of the Sage School's early endeavors was the creation of the Philosophical Review in 1891. This publication was the first genuine philosophical review in the United States and has been continuously published by the Sage School since its inception.

The school has hosted or employed many prominent philosophy scholars:

  • George H. Sabine, known for his seminal work A History of Political Theory (1937), provided a comprehensive account of political theory from ancient times to the rise of Nazism and Fascism.
  • Edwin A. Burtt, as the Susan Linn Sage Professor, challenged prevailing positivist and scientistic views with his influential book "The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science" (1924).
  • Max Black, a leading figure in analytic philosophy, made significant contributions during his tenure at Cornell, where he remained from 1946 to 1977.
  • Norman Malcolm, renowned for his engagement with Ludwig Wittgenstein's later thought, left a lasting impact on philosophy of mind, free will, determinism, and philosophy of religion during his time at the Sage School from 1947 to 1978.
  • Gregory Vlastos, another distinguished scholar, joined Cornell in 1948 as the Susan Linn Sage Professor of Philosophy. His work synthesized ancient philosophy and analytic philosophy, marking a decisive change in the study of Greek philosophy in the English-speaking world.
  • John Rawls spent a year of his graduate studies at the Sage School before joining the department as faculty in 1953. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American political philosophers, contributing significantly to the Sage School during his tenure from 1953 to the early 1960s.

In the 2024 rankings published by the Philosophical Gourmet, the school is considered among the best programs in the world in the fields of Value theory,[196] that is their focus on moral psychology, metaethics, applied ethics, philosophy of law, and history of philosophy[197] ranging from ancient philosophy to modern philosophy. Currently, the Sage School is home to several renowned philosophers such as Tad Brennan, Andrei Marmor, John Doris, Karolina Hubner, Rachana Kamtekar, Michelle Kosch, Kate Manne, Julia Markovits, Shaun Nichols, and Derk Pereboom.

Student life

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[198] Total
White 35% 35
Asian 21% 21
Hispanic 15% 15
Other[c] 13% 13
Foreign national 10% 10
Black 7% 7
Economic diversity
Low-income[d] 16% 16
Affluent[e] 84% 84


The interior windows of Barton Hall, an on-campus field house
Fuertes Observatory on Cornell North Campus

As of the 2016–2017 academic year, Cornell had over 1,000 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.[199] 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. The Cornell University Mock Trial Association regularly sends teams to the national championship and is ranked fifth in the nation.[200] The Cornell International Affairs Society's traveling Model United Nations team was ranked 16th in the nation as of 2010.[201] 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 groups including a symphony orchestra,[202] concert bands,[203] formal and informal choral groups,[204] including the Glee Club, the Chordials[205] and other 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.[206]

Organized in 1868, the oldest Cornell student organization is the Cornell University Glee Club.[207] Cornell also has an active outdoor community, including Cornell Outdoor Education and Outdoor Odyssey, a student-run group that runs pre-orientation trips for first-year and transfer students. A Cornell student organization, The Cornell Astronomical Society, runs public observing nights every Friday evening at the Fuertes Observatory. The university is home to the Telluride House, an intellectual residential society. The university is also home to three secret honor societies, Sphinx Head,[208] Der Hexenkreis, and Quill and Dagger[209][210] that have maintained a campus presence for over 120 years.

Cornell's clubs are primarily subsidized financially by the Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, two student-run organizations with a collective budget of $3.0 million per year.[211][212] The assemblies also finance other student life programs including a concert commission and an on-campus theater.

Greek life, professional, and honor societies

Cornell hosts a large[213][214][215][216][217] fraternity and sorority system, with 70 chapters involving 33% of male and 24% of female undergraduates.[218][219][220] Cornell's Greek Life has an extensive history on the campus with the first fraternity, Zeta Psi, being chartered by the end of the university's first year.[221] Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek organization established for African Americans, was founded at Cornell in 1906.[222][223] Alpha Zeta fraternity, the first Greek-lettered organization established for Latin Americans in the United States, was also founded at Cornell on January 1, 1890. Alpha Zeta served the wealthy international Latin American students that came to the United States to study. This organization led a movement of fraternities that catered to international Latin American students that was active from 1890 to 1975.[224] On 19 February 1982, La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity was established;[225] it would eventually become the only Latino based fraternity in the nation with chapters at every Ivy League institution.[226] Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi sorority was established on 16 April 1988, making the organization the first Latina-Based, and not Latina-exclusive, sorority founded at an ivy-league institution.[227]

Cornell's connection to national Greek life is strong and longstanding. Many chapters are among the oldest of their respective national organizations, as evidenced by the proliferation of Alpha-series chapters. The chapter house of Alpha Delta Phi constructed in 1877 is believed to be the first house built in America solely for fraternity use, and the chapter's current home was designed by John Russell Pope.[228] Philanthropy opportunities are used to encourage community relations, for example, during the 2004–05 academic year, the Greek system contributed 21,668 community service and advocacy hours and raised $176,547 in charitable contributions from its philanthropic efforts.[219] Generally, discipline is managed internally by the inter-Greek governing boards. As with all student, faculty or staff misconduct, more serious cases are reviewed by the Judicial Administrator, who administers Cornell's justice system.[219]

Press and radio

The Cornell student body produces several works by way of print and radio. Student-run newspapers include The Cornell Daily Sun, an independent daily, and The Cornell Review, a conservative newspaper published fortnightly.

Other press outlets include The Cornell Lunatic, a campus humor magazine, the Cornell Chronicle, the university's newspaper of record, and Kitsch Magazine, a feature magazine co-published 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, and the standard senior portraits. It carries the Silver Crown Award for Journalism and a Benjamin Franklin Award for Print Design, the only Ivy League yearbook with such a distinction.[229] Cornellians are represented over the radio waves on WVBR-FM, an independent commercial FM radio station owned and operated by Cornell students. Other student groups also operate internet streaming audio sites.[230]


One of several footbridges that span Cornell's gorges and ease commuting from housing to the various on-campus academic buildings

University housing is broadly divided into three sections: North Campus, West Campus, and Collegetown. Cornell began experiments with co-ed dormitories in 1971 and continued the tradition of residential advisors (RAs) within the campus system. In 1991, new students could be found throughout West Campus, including at the historic Baker and Boldt Hall complexes; since a 1997 residential initiative, West Campus houses transfer and returning students, and North Campus is mostly populated by freshmen, sophomores, and sorority and fraternity houses.[231] Prior to 2022, North Campus residents were overwhelmingly freshman, but the completion of the North Campus Residential Expansion now provides housing for 800 sophomores in Toni Morrison Hall and Ganędagǫ Hall.[232]

Options for living on North Campus for upperclassmen include program houses and co-op houses. Program houses include 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. The co-op houses on North are The Prospect of Whitby, Triphammer Cooperative, Wait Avenue Cooperative, Wari Cooperative, and Wait Terrace.[233] On West Campus, there are three university-affiliated cooperatives, 660 Stewart Cooperative, Von Cramm Hall, Watermargin, and one independent cooperative, Cayuga Lodge. 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.[234] 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.[235] In 2018, Cornell announced its North Campus Residential Expansion project, which was completed in Fall 2022. The university added 2,000 beds on North Campus through five new dorms and a dining hall. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall, Hu Shih Hall, and Barbara McClintock Hall are located on the east end of North Campus and are exclusively for freshmen. Sophomores have the option to live in Toni Morrison Hall or Ganędagǫ Hall, which are located on the west end of North Campus.[236]

Schuyler House, which was formerly a part of Sage Infirmary,[237] has a dorm layout. 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.[238] 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.[239] Housing cooperatives or other independent living units exist, including Telluride House, the Center for Jewish Living, Phillips House (located on North Campus, 1975 all women; 2016, all men), and Center for World Community (international community, off campus, formed by Annabel Taylor Hall, 1972, mixed gender).[240] The cooperative houses on North include The Prospect of Whitby, Triphammer Cooperative, Wait Avenue Cooperative, Wari Cooperative, and Wait Terrace.[233] There also are cooperative housing options not owned by Cornell, including Gamma Alpha and Stewart Little.

As of 2023, Cornell's dining system was ranked second in the nation by The Princeton Review.[241] The university has 29 on-campus dining locations, including 10 "All You Care to Eat" cafeterias.[242] North Campus is home to three of these dining halls: Morrison Dining by Morrison Hall, North Star Dining Room in the Appel Commons, and Risley Dining in Risley Hall.[242] West Campus houses 6 dining halls, 5 of which accompany the West Campus residential houses: Cook House Dining Room, Becker House Dining Room, Rose House Dining Room, Jansen's Dining Room at Hans Bethe House, and Keeton House Dining Room.[242] Also located on West Campus is 104West!, a kosher/multicultural dining room.[242] Central Campus has Okenshields, a dining hall in Willard Straight Hall.[242]


A 1908 poster depicting a Cornell Big Red baseball player

Cornell University's 35 varsity intercollegiate athletic teams are known as the Cornell Big Red.[243] Cornell is an NCAA Division I institution and competes as a member of the Ivy League and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), the largest athletic conference in North America.[244] Cornell's varsity athletic teams consistently challenge for NCAA Division I titles in a number of sports, including men's wrestling, men's lacrosse, men's ice hockey, and rowing. As an Ivy League member, Cornell is prohibited from offering athletic scholarships.[245]

Cornell's football team had at least a share of the national championship four times before 1940[246][247] and has won the Ivy League championship three times, last in 1990.[248]

In 2010, the men's basketball team appeared for the first time in the NCAA tournament's East Regional semifinals, known as the "Sweet 16." It was the first Ivy League team to make the semifinals since 1979.[249]

Cornell Outdoor Education

Cornell runs one of the largest collegiate outdoor education programs in the country, serving over 20,000 people every year. The program runs over 130 different courses including but not limited to: Backpacking and Camping, Mountain Biking, Bike Touring, Caving, Hiking, Rock and Ice Climbing, Wilderness First Aid, and tree climbing.[250] COE also oversees one of the largest student-run pre-freshman summer programs, known as Outdoor Odyssey.[251] Most classes are often entirely taught by paid student instructors and courses count toward Cornell's physical education graduation requirement.[252]

One notable facility at Cornell Outdoor Education is the Lindseth Climbing Wall. The wall was renovated in 2016, and now includes 8,000 square feet of climbing surface up from 4,800 square feet previously.[253]


Started in 1901, Dragon Day is an annual tradition celebrating a feat by freshman architecture students to construct a colossal dragon that is paraded through the Ithaca campus.
The ivy-covered emblem of Ezra Cornell circumscribed by the university motto

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 parading of a dragon built by architecture students. Dragon Day is one of the school's oldest traditions and has been celebrated annually since 1901, historically on or near St. Patrick's Day. The dragon is built by the first-year architecture students in the week preceding the start of Spring Break. Taunting messages are left for the engineering students during the week leading into Dragon Day, with pranks, a "nerd walk," and even "green streak" (in which the students paint themselves green) often targeting engineers and their classes. On Dragon Day, the dragon is paraded around central campus by the first-year students, starting behind Rand Hall and moving through Cornell until eventually returning towards the Arts Quad. During the parade, the upper-year architecture students walk behind the dragon in various costumes, typically constructed by themselves for the event. Throughout much of its history, the dragon was then set afire upon its arrival to the arts quad, but that has since been discontinued due to environmental regulations.[254][255][256]

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.[257]

The university is also host to various student pranks. 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.[258] The colors of the lights on McGraw tower change to orange for Halloween and green for St. Patrick's Day.[259] 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.[10] 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.[260] Formerly called Gannett Health Services until its name change in 2016, Cornell Health offers on-campus outpatient health services with emergency services and residential treatment provided by Cayuga Medical Center.[261] For most of its history, Cornell provided residential medical care for sick students, including at the historic Sage Infirmary.[262] Cornell offers specialized reproductive health and family planning services.[263] The university also has a student-run Emergency Medical Service (EMS) agency. The squad provides emergency response to medical emergencies on the campus at Cornell and surrounding university-owned properties. Cornell EMS also provides stand-by service for university events and provides CPR, First Aid and other training seminars to the Cornell community.[264]

The university received attention for a series of six student suicides by jumping into a gorge that occurred during the 2009–10 school year, and after the incidents added temporary fences to the bridges which span area gorges.[265] In May 2013, Cornell indicated that it planned to set up nets, which will extend out 15 feet, on five of the university's bridges.[266] Installation of the nets began in May 2013 and were completed over the summer of that year.[265] There were cases of gorge-jumping in the 1970s and 1990s.[267] 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.[268][269]

More recently, Cornell Health has been criticized for failure to provide adequate gynecological care.[270] Despite claiming to provide sexual healthcare,[271] Cornell Health does not have any MD gynecologists on staff. Resolutions have been passed by the Faculty Senate and Cornell Student Assembly calling on the university to hire an MD gynecologist.[272] The university maintains that the current providers are able to address common gynecological issues, including chronic pelvic pain.[273]

Campus police

Cornell University Police protect the campus and are classified as peace officers and have the same authority as the Ithaca city police. They are similar to the campus police at Ithaca College, Syracuse University, and University of Rochester because those campus police are classified as armed peace officers. The Cornell University Police are on campus and on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their duties include: patrolling the university around the clock, responding to emergencies and non-emergency calls for service, crime prevention services, active investigation of crimes on campus, enforcement of state criminal and motor vehicle laws, and campus regulations.[274]

Notable people

Cornell counts numerous notable individuals who have either come to the university as faculty to teach and to conduct research, or as students who have gone on to do noteworthy things. As of October 2023, 62 Nobel laureates were either faculty members, researchers, or students at Cornell.[16]


Cornell University's 1916 faculty

As of 2009, Cornell had 1,639 full-and part-time faculty members affiliated with its main campus,[15] 1,235 affiliated with its New York City divisions, and 34 affiliated with its campus in Qatar.[15] 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, a Carter G. Woodson Scholars Medallion recipient, 20 National Science Foundation career grant holders, a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award, a recipient of the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a recipient of the Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, and three Packard Foundation grant holders.[15]

Kurt Lewin taught at Cornell from 1933 to 1935 and is considered the "father of social psychology."[275] Norman Borlaug taught at the university from 1982 to 1988 and is considered the "father of the Green Revolution,"[276] being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and 49 honorary doctorates.[277] Frances Perkins joined the Cornell faculty in 1952 after serving as the first female member of the United States Cabinet and served until her death in 1965. Perkins was a witness to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in her adolescence and went on to champion the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Social Security Act while United States Secretary of Labor. Buckminster Fuller was a visiting professor at Cornell for one year (1952),[278] and Henry Louis Gates, African American Studies scholar and subject of an arrest controversy and White House "Beer Summit," taught at Cornell from 1985 to 1989.[279] Plant genetics pioneer Ray Wu invented the first method for sequencing DNA, considered a major breakthrough in genetics as it has enabled researchers to more closely understand how genes work.[280][281] Emmy Award-winning actor John Cleese, known for his roles in Monty Python, James Bond, Harry Potter and Shrek, has taught at Cornell since 1999.[282] Charles Evans Hughes taught in the law school from 1893 to 1895 before becoming Governor of New York, United States Secretary of State, and Chief Justice of the United States.[283] Georgios Papanikolaou, who taught at Cornell's medical school from 1913 to 1961, invented the Pap smear test for cervical cancer.[284] Robert C. Baker ('43), widely credited for inventing the chicken nugget, taught at Cornell from 1957 to 1989. Carl Sagan was a professor at the university from 1968 to 1996.[285] He narrated and co-wrote the PBS series Cosmos, the Emmy Award- and Peabody Award-winning show that became the most watched series in public-television history. He also wrote the novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his nonfiction science book The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence. M. H. Abrams was a professor emeritus of English and was the founding editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature.[286] James L. Hoard, a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project and an expert in crystallography, was a professor emeritus of chemistry and taught from 1936 to 1971.[287] Vladimir Nabokov taught Russian and European literature at Cornell between 1948 and 1959.[288]

Notable current and former Cornell faculty
Hans Bethe
(A&S, 1934–2005)
German-American theoretical physicist, 1967 Nobel Prize in Physics, Manhattan Project scientist
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
(A&S, 1985–89)
American literary critic, professor, historian, and filmmaker
Richard Feynman
(A&S, 1945–52)
American theoretical physicist, winner of 1965 Nobel Prize, and Manhattan Project scientist
Frances Perkins
(ILR, 1952–65)
First female member of the Cabinet of the United States
Carl Sagan
(A&S, 1968–96)
Co-writer and narrator of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage


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

AS of August 2008, Cornell University has 245,027 living alumni.[15] Its alumni constitute 34 Marshall Scholars and 31 Rhodes Scholars,[15][17] and Cornell is the only university with four female winners of unshared Nobel Prizes among its graduates, Pearl S. Buck, Barbara McClintock, Toni Morrison, and Claudia Goldin.[16][289] Many alumni maintain university ties through Homecoming's reunion weekend, through Cornell Magazine,[290] and through the Cornell Club of New York. In 2015, Cornell ranked No. 5 nationwide for gifts and bequests from alumni.[291]

Cornell alumni are noted for their accomplishments in public, professional, and corporate life.[15][292] Lee Teng-hui was the president of Taiwan,[293] Tsai Ing-wen was elected to be the first female president of Taiwan,[294] Mario García Menocal was president of Cuba,[295] Jamshid Amuzegar ('50) was prime minister of Iran,[296] Hu Shih (1914) was a Chinese reformer and representative to the United Nations,[297] Janet Reno ('60) was the first female United States Attorney General,[298] and Ruth Bader Ginsburg ('54) served on the Supreme Court.[299] Alumnus David Starr Jordan (1872) was the founding president of Stanford University,[300] and M. Carey Thomas (1877) was the second president and first female president of Bryn Mawr College.[301] Additionally, alumnus Matt Urban ('41), a Medal of Honor recipient, holds the distinction as one of the most decorated soldiers in World War II.[302]

Cornellians in business include: Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill ('55),[303](p42) Goldman Sachs Group Chairman Stephen Friedman ('59),[304] Kraft Foods CEO Irene Rosenfeld ('75, '77, '80),[305] Autodesk CEO Carl Bass ('83),[306] Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini ('84),[307] S.C. Johnson & Son CEO Fisk Johnson ('79, '80, '82, '84, '86),[308] Chevron Chairman Kenneth T. Derr ('59),[309] Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse ('77),[310] Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam ('76),[311] MasterCard CEO Robert Selander ('72),[312] Coors Brewing Company CEO Adolph Coors III ('37),[313] Loews Corporation Chairman Andrew Tisch ('71),[314] Burger King founder James McLamore ('47),[315] founder David Litman ('79),[316] PeopleSoft founder David Duffield ('62),[317] founder Jay Walker ('77),[318] Staples founder Myra Hart ('62),[319] Qualcomm founder Irwin M. Jacobs ('56),[320] Tata Group CEO Ratan Tata ('62),[321]Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé,[322] Johnson & Johnson worldwide chairman Sandi Peterson,[323] Pawan Kumar Goenka, MD of Mahindra & Mahindra, and Y Combinator founder Paul Graham ('86).

In medicine, alumnus Robert Atkins ('55) developed the Atkins Diet,[324] Henry Heimlich ('47) developed the Heimlich maneuver,[325] Wilson Greatbatch ('50) invented the pacemaker,[326] James Maas ('66; also a faculty member) coined the term "power nap,"[327] C. Everett Koop ('41) served as Surgeon General of the United States,[328] and Anthony Fauci served as the U.S.'s Chief Medical Adviser during the COVID-19 pandemic.[329][330][331]

A number of Cornellians have been prominent innovators: Thomas Midgley Jr. ('11) invented Freon,[332] Jon Rubinstein ('78) is credited with the development of the iPod,[333] and Robert Tappan Morris developed the first computer worm on the Internet.

Bill Nye ('77) is known as "The Science Guy."[334] Clarence W. Spicer invented the 'universal joint' for automobiles while a student in 1903.

Eight Cornellians have served as NASA astronauts, Steve Squyres ('81) is the principal investigator on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission.[335] In aerospace, also, Otto Glasser ('40) directed the USAF program that developed the SM-65 Atlas, the World's first operational Intercontinental ballistic missile. Yolanda Shea is a research scientist in the Science Directorate at NASA Langley Research Center.[336]

In literature, Toni Morrison (M.A.'50; Nobel laureate) is well known for her novel Beloved, Pearl S. Buck (M.A.'25; Nobel laureate) authored The Good Earth,[337] Thomas Pynchon ('59) penned such canonical works of postwar American fiction as Gravity's Rainbow and The Crying of Lot 49, Junot Díaz ('95) wrote The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction,[338] and E. B. White (1921) authored Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little.[339] Although he did not graduate, Kurt Vonnegut wrote extensively for The Cornell Daily Sun during his studies at Cornell. He went on to author best sellers such as Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle. Lauren Weisberger ('99) wrote The Devil Wears Prada, later adapted into a 2006 film of the same name starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. Media personalities who have graduated from Cornell include conservative Ann Coulter ('84)[303](p41) and liberals Bill Maher ('78) and Keith Olbermann ('79).[340]

Several Cornellians have also achieved critical acclaim in theatre and entertainment: Christopher Reeve ('74) played Superman,[303](p42) Frank Morgan was The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Yarrow ('59) of folk band Peter, Paul and Mary, wrote Puff, the Magic Dragon and other classic American tunes. Howard Hawks ('18) is one of the most legendary filmmakers in Hollywood history, having directed classics like Bringing Up Baby (1938), His Girl Friday (1940), and Rio Bravo (1959). In architecture, alumnus Richmond Shreve (1902) designed the Empire State Building,[341] and Raymond M. Kennedy ('15) designed Hollywood's famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre.[342] In the arts, Arthur Garfield Dove (1903) is often considered the first American abstract painter. Louise Lawler ('69) is a pioneering feminist artist and photographer, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In athletics, Cornell graduates include football legend Glenn "Pop" Warner (1894),[343] head coach of the United States men's national soccer team Bruce Arena ('73),[344] Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred ('80)[345] National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman ('74),[346] six-time Stanley Cup winning hockey goalie Ken Dryden ('69),[347] tennis singles world # 2 Dick Savitt,[348] seven-time US Tennis championships winner William Larned and Toronto Raptors president Bryan Colangelo ('87),[349] and Kyle Dake, four-time NCAA division I wrestling national champion.

See also


  1. ^ The others are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tuskegee University.
  2. ^ The university's charter was amended on 24 April 1867, to specify alumni-elected trustees;[24] however, that provision was not implemented until there were at least 100 alumni[25] in 1872.[26] Also in 1865, the election of the Harvard University Board of Overseers was shifted to alumni voting.
  3. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  4. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  5. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


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External links

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