Welcome back from the President

Dear Cornellians:

Welcome to the new academic year. I hope you are looking forward to it, as I am, with a sense of optimism and enthusiasm. Thanks to the good ideas, dedication, hard work and leadership of so many of our colleagues, we are on our way to reaching a new equilibrium that will sustain individual and institutional success for the entire Cornell community.

As we implement the changes in organization and process we developed together last year, it's clear that the worst of the immediate financial crisis is now behind us. By the end of the new academic year we will have a clear path to a balanced budget.

To be sure, we have lots of hard work to do, and we must make sure, as we do it, that we are disciplined, prudent, and focused. But I believe we can - and should - begin now to take the actions needed to realize the aspiration, captured in our new strategic plan, to "be widely recognized as a top-ten research university in the world and a model university for the interweaving of liberal education and fundamental knowledge with practical education and impact on societal and world problems."

Earlier this month, during a speech at the University of Texas, President Obama singled out Cornell for taking decisive action to contain costs - and keep the university affordable for students from all backgrounds. Despite our financial challenges, we have reaffirmed our commitment to need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid. I am delighted to report that the Class of 2014 (selected from the largest applicant pool in our history), and our new transfer, graduate and professional students continue to reflect the diversity that is so essential to the character of our university.

Our next highest priority during the next five years, complementing our enduring commitment to student financial aid, is to enhance faculty excellence. As a first step, we are creating a $100-million Cornell Faculty Renewal Fund to hire additional faculty over five years, to be funded through philanthropy and internal reallocations. Hiring new faculty is a clear sign that we are emerging healthier and better positioned for the future. This will allow us to build strength in strategically important areas and shape Cornell for a generation or more.

Join me in welcoming the new faculty, students and staff to our campuses. Let's all make an extra effort this year to support one another, to ask for help when we need it, and to utilize the many resources available on campus and in the wider community to help us stay healthy - physically and mentally.

At this pivotal time in Cornell's history, I have a deep and abiding appreciation of our remarkable community. I will be out and about this year, meeting frequently with faculty, students and staff. I look forward to seeing you and to our continuing work together.

Best regards,

David J. Skorton