The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Cornell University

For other uses of the name Cornell, see Cornell (disambiguation).

Cornell University is a private university located in Ithaca, New York, USA, and a member of the Ivy League. Cornell was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell, a businessman and a pioneer in the telegraph industry, and Andrew Dickson White, a respected scholar and politician.


About Cornell

Cornell is well known for its research efforts as well as both its undergraduate and graduate education programs. Cornell's students hail from all corners of the globe, and represent over 120 countries and all fifty United States. Cornell consistently ranks highly in college and university rankings; it ranked 14th in the 2005 U.S. News and World Report ranking. [1].

The youngest of its peers in the Ivy League, the University has seven undergraduate and seven graduate level academic units, as well as three intercollege divisions, the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, and the Cornell University Library. Cornell's main campus is situated on a rolling site of 745 acres (3 km²) overlooking Cayuga Lake, largest of the Finger Lakes, and the central portion is bounded to its north and south by picturesque gorges and waterfalls.

Two units, the Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences are located at the New York City campus. In addition, the university operates a medical school campus in Education City, Qatar, the New York Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the Shoals Marine Laboratory off the coast of Maine (in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire), the New York State Cooperative Extension system, and several other teaching or research facilities around the world.

McGraw Tower houses the Cornell chimes
McGraw Tower houses the Cornell chimes
From its founding in the aftermath of the industrial revolution and the U.S. Civil War as a university where the classics and more practical subjects, such as engineering and agriculture, were taught with equal fervor, to the establishment of the first American medical school outside of the United States in 2001, Cornell is a pioneer in American education—educational historian Frederick Rudolph once called it "the first American university." It was the first major institution in the eastern United States to admit women along with men, when the first women enrolled in 1872. Among other firsts, it awarded the first university degrees in veterinary medicine and journalism, taught the first course in American history, formed the first university publishing company, and awarded the nation's first doctorates in electrical engineering and industrial engineering. The School of Hotel Administration and New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations are the first four-year schools devoted to those fields.

The school colors are carnelian red and white, a play on "Cornellian" and Andrew Dickson White. Cornell does not have an official mascot, as the school is officially known as the "Big Red," but a bear is commonly seen as a mascot, which dates back to the introduction of the mascot "Touchdown" in 1915. The sports teams participate in the Ivy League and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). People associated with the University are called "Cornellians"; "Cornellian" may also be used as an adjective and is the name of the university's annual (yearbook).

Academic units

Cornell is a private institution, receiving most of its funding through tuition, research grants, and alumni contributions. Three of its undergraduate colleges as well as the graduate veterinary school, called contract or statutory colleges, also 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 statutory colleges enjoy reduced tuition.

Cornell is highly decentralized; its colleges and schools have wide autonomy. Each defines its own academic programs, organizes 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 and take two physical education courses. Periodically, the university attempts to resolve naturally arising redundancies by creating special interschool units (see Other units below). While students may take courses offered by the division, their enrollment remains with their individual college or school.

Seven schools offer undergraduate programs. Students pursuing graduate degrees in departments of these schools are enrolled in the Cornell University Graduate School . In addition, there are six units offering graduate and professional programs.

Undergraduate colleges and schools

Endowed colleges

Contract colleges

Graduate/Professional colleges and schools

All of Cornell's graduate and professional schools are endowed, except for the statutory veterinary school.

Cornell University Library

The Cornell University Library consists of twenty units. It is one of the largest academic research libraries in the United States, with over 7 million volumes in open stacks, 7 million microforms, 5,000,000 computer files, and some 76,000 sound recordings 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.

Cornell University Press

Cornell University Press , established in 1869, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States and is one of the country's largest university presses. It produces approximately 150 titles each year in various disciplines including anthropology, classics, cultural studies, history, literary criticism and theory, medieval studies, philosophy, politics and international relations, psychology and psychiatry, and women's studies.

Other units

  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Division of Nutritional Sciences
  • Faculty of Computing and Information Science
  • Office of Undergraduate Biology
  • School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions .
See also : CORC, Cornell Theory Center

The campuses

Main campus

Cornell's main campus is located in Ithaca, New York and is widely considered to be one of the best non-city schools in the country [2]; Day Hall, the administration building, is located on East Avenue. The campus itself is situated on a rolling site of 745 acres (3 km²) on East Hill, overlooking Cayuga Lake and downtown Ithaca two miles (3 km) to the west. The 260 or so major buildings are mostly divided into quads for the Arts, Engineering, and Agriculture, a science lab complex, and the athletic complex.  

Central campus is bounded to its north and south by spectacular limestone gorges and waterfalls. Dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and student centers are located on North Campus, north of Fall Creek Gorge, and on West Campus, at the bottom of the Library Slope ("Libe Slope"); after snowfalls, students are known to sled down the Slope on trays from the dining hall. East of the main campus lie the Cornell Plantations, approximately 3,600 acres (15 km²) encompassing an arboretum and botanical gardens as well as natural woodlands, trails, streams, and gorges. South of Cascadilla Gorge lies the student-oriented Collegetown business and residential district.

The first building, Morrill Hall, was erected in 1868, although Cascadilla Hall, a dormitory purchased some years later is slightly older. Cornell's signature landmark is McGraw Tower, which rises 173 feet and 161 steps from the ground. Constructed in 1891 adjoining Uris Library, it features the Cornell Chimes, 21 bells on which the Cornell chimesmasters play three daily concerts.

Contrasting with the Gothic, Victorian, and Neo-Classical buildings on the Arts Quad is the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art , designed by I. M. Pei. Other notable buildings: Willard Straight Hall, one of the earliest student unions; Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, the largest academic building in the eastern United States; Duffield Hall, one of the world's most advanced nanotechnology facilities; and the Statler Hotel, adjacent to and associated with the School of Hotel Administration.

New York City campus

The New York Weill Cornell Medical Center is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. It is home to the Weill Cornell Medical College and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences , and has a long affiliation with the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Although their faculty and academic divisions remain separate, the Medical Center shares its administrative functions with the Columbia University Medical Center, and is also affiliated with the Sloan-Kettering Institute for cancer research.

Other campuses

The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, operated by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is located in Geneva, New York, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the main campus. The facility now comprises 20 major buildings on 130 acres (0.5 km²) of land, as well as over 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 Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, located in Education City , near Doha, is housed in a large two-story structure designed by Arata Isozaki .

Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico
Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

The Shoals Marine Laboratory, a seasonal marine field station dedicated to undergraduate education and research operated in conjunction with the University of New Hampshire, is located on the 95 acre (0.4 km²) Appledore Island off the MaineNew Hampshire coast.

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, site of the world's largest radio telescope, is operated by Cornell.

The current and upcoming missions to Mars are managed by Steven Squyres and the Cornell Astronomy Department.

Cornell University maintains facilities in Washington, DC and New York City for its Cornell in Washington, Urban Semester, and Urban Scholars Programs.

Other facilities include

  • Cornell Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point in Bridgeport
  • Punta Cana and EsBaran biodiversity field stations in the Dominican Republic and Peru
  • Arnot Teaching and Research Forest natural resources center in Tompkins and Schuyler Counties.
  • Animal Science Teaching and Research Center in Harford, and Duck Research Laboratory in Eastport, New York
  • Offices of the New York Sea Grant, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and School of Industrial and Labor Relations Extension Service throughout New York State
  • Offices for Cornell-administered study abroad programs such as the Cornell-Nepal Study Program and Cornell-in-Rome

Student Life


Cornell is considered one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. There are more than 800 registered student organizations, running the interest gamut from kayaking to full-armor jousting, from the Cornell Collegiate Curling Program and a cappella groups to improvisational theatre, from political clubs and publications to chess and video game clubs. Cornell also boasts one of the largest fraternity and sorority systems in North America, with over 60 chapters involving about a third of the student body. Many groups are subsidized financially by the Student Assembly Finance Commission, a student-run organization that gives nearly $1,000,000 a year to clubs and organizations.


University housing is broadly divided into three sections: West Campus, Collegetown and North Campus. As a result of President Hunter R. Rawlings III's 1997 Residential Initative, West Campus houses mostly transfer and returning students, whereas North Campus is almost entirely populated by freshmen. The only options for living on North Campus for upper classmen are the program houses, like the Latino Living Center (LLC), Akwe:kon, the Ecology House, the Multicultural Living Learning Unit (MLLU), Holland International Living Center (HILC), Risley Residential College, Ujaama, and Just About Music (JAM).

There is a residential college project under construction on West Campus, spearheaded by the completion of Alice H. Cook House in 2004. Completion of the five-"House" "residential college" campus will occur in 2010 [3]. The campus dining services have been rated as one of the top college dining services many times in recent years.

A variety of off-campus housing options exist. Many homes in the East Hill neighborhoods adjacent to the University have been converted to apartments, and several high-rise apartment complexes have been constructed in the Collegetown neighborhood. A significant number of undergraduate students live in fraternity and sorority houses. Many "co-op" or other independent living units such as Watermargin, Telluride House, Young Israel, and the Wait Cooperative also exist.


Cornell has one of the most diverse varsity athletic programs in the country. It sponsors 36 varsity teams. An NCAA Division I institution, Cornell is a member of the Ivy League and also competes in Eastern College Athletic Conference, the largest athletic conference in North America. Cornell's traditional football rival is the University of Pennsylvania; in 1993, the two institutions celebrated the 100th anniversary of their first game. More keenly followed in the present day are the men's ice hockey contests with Harvard University, although the rivalry has been somewhat one-sided in recent years, with Cornell leading 15-3-1 since the 95-96 season.

In addition to the school's varsity athletics, a wide variety of club sports teams have been organized as student organizations under the auspices of the Dean of Students.

Cornell's intramural program includes 30 sports. In addition to 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 University has over 1,550 full-time and part-time academic faculty members, and an additional 1,600 affiliated with its medical divisions. The 2003-04 Cornell faculty included 4 Nobel laureates, a Crawford Prize winner, 2 Turing Award winners, a Fields Medal winner, 2 Legion of Honor recipients, a World Food Prize winner, 4 National Medal of Science winners, 2 Wolf Prize winners, 4 MacArthur Award winners, 3 Pulitzer Prize winners, 13 Alexander von Humboldt Award winners, 2 Eminent Ecologist Award recipients, a Carter G. Woodson Scholars Medallion recipient, 3 Presidential Early Career Award holders, 23 National Science Foundation CAREER grant holders, a recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research, a winner of the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a recipient of the Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, a Packard Foundation grant holder, a Searle Scholar, a Keck Distinguished Young Scholar, 2 Beckman Foundation Young Investigator grant holders, and a NYSTAR (New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research) early career award winner.

Among Cornell's notable former professors are Carl Sagan, Norman Malcolm, Vladimir Nabokov, Hans Bethe, Clinton Rossiter , Richard Feynman, Kip S. Thorne, and Allan Bloom.


As of August 2003 Cornell University counted over 220,000 living alumni. The Office of Alumni Affairs and Development sponsors a wide variety of affinity programs, activities, and organizations, including annual Reunion Weekend and Homecoming Weekend festivities in Ithaca, and the International Spirit of Zinck's Night sponsored by Cornell offices and organizations around the world. The various classes, regional clubs, and special interest associations are coordinated by the Cornell Alumni Federation.

Cornell ranked first in gifts and bequests from alumni and fourth in total support from all sources (alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations) among U.S. colleges and universities reporting voluntary gift support received in fiscal year 2001-02

Cornell boasts many notable alumni; see Cornellians for a listing.

External links

The contents of this article are licensed from under the GNU Free Documentation License. How to see transparent copy