President Skorton's message of condolence

Dear Friends,

With great sorrow, I write to inform you that one of our undergraduate students and an international student visiting for the summer have died on this holiday weekend in separate accidents in the Fall Creek gorge area. On behalf of the entire Cornell community, I convey my sincere condolences to their families and many friends. Please join me in keeping them in your thoughts in the days ahead as we mourn this tragic loss of life.

Saturday afternoon, the Ithaca Police Department and the Ithaca Fire Department responded to the Ithaca Falls around 4 p.m., where Nathaniel Rand, Human Ecology '12, drowned while swimming in a prohibited area. Earlier in the day, a visiting student from abroad, whose name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin, apparently lost his footing and fell while walking off-trail along the Fall Creek Gorge east of the Cornell Hydroelectric Plant.

I am compelled in the wake of these tragedies, to once again urge each member of our community and every visitor to our campus to observe the necessary and strict prohibitions that are in place to protect all while enjoying our natural areas. In the weeks ahead, I will work with my colleagues and interested parties in the community to explore the best ways to foster even greater observance of existing and, if necessary, additional safety precautions. We will keep the campus community informed as relevant information emerges from the investigations that are being conducted by the Cornell University Police Department and the Ithaca Police Department.

The beautiful streams and gorges that run through our campus are among the attractions that Cornellians, members of our community and visitors to our region treasure. But the enjoyment of these natural areas comes with a clear responsibility for personal safety and the observance of posted regulations and barriers promoting safety and limiting access to these areas. It is immensely sad when the price for this enjoyment becomes the injury or death of someone we know and love.

Our campus police, with the support of the Ithaca Police Department, will step up patrols in the area during the coming weeks to help enforce regulations and prohibitions in various natural areas of our campus. However, patrolling and enforcement alone can never be sufficient to ensure safety. Your respect for both existing rules and common sense precautions, as well as your encouragement of others to do the same, are critical to the safety of all in these beautiful yet challenging natural areas. For more information on safety regulations within our natural areas and a list of guarded areas available for swimming, please visit

Plans for appropriate commemorations for these two students will be made in the days to come in consultation with their families. Please join me in taking a moment to acknowledge and remember two members of our community so tragically lost.


David Skorton


Support services are available to all members of the Cornell community. Students may consult with counselors from Gannett Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155. Students may also speak with a peer counselor by calling EARS at 255-3277. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 800-327-2255 (select option 1 for EAP). An Ithaca-based CrisisLine is available at 272-1616. For additional resources, visit the Caring Community site. For additional resources, visit the Caring Community site.