Welcome back message from President Skorton

Dear Cornellians,

I hope the fall semester is off to a good start for all of you. For Cornellians on campus and off, last year was one of accomplishments as well as challenges, which we dealt with as a community: by coming together to talk, debate and, ultimately, work together for the greater good.

This Sunday, we will pause to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Please join us at 6 p.m. on Ho Plaza to honor those who were lost but also to honor the courage, healing and rebuilding that followed. In that spirit, celebrating resilience and looking to the future, I hope you start the year as I do: refreshed and ready to learn, create and serve.

Members of ourSesquicentennial Class of 2015 have now made themselves at home on North Campus and are well along in their classes. My stay in Donlon during orientation week allowed me to meet many of them. Selected from over 36,000 applicants, first-year students come from 48 states (all but Arkansas and Nebraska); Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; and 45 countries. They're a diverse group, with 36 percent identifying as people of color and 10 percent as international students. Welcome, Class of 2015!

Our 1200 new graduate and professional students, more than 500 transfer students and ourreturning students now embark on a new year of personal growth as well as progress toward degrees and careers. I hope all students know that your academic success, health and well-being are my highest priorities.

My gratitude and admiration go out to our staff colleagues across the campus, who perform the incredible variety of tasks that support education, discovery, and public engagement. In July we celebrated the launch of a new financial software system, which after a monumental effort by numerous employees, now replaces an obsolete system with one that does more and will eventually cost less. And outside of work, I'm proud to say that staff members spearheaded the annual Backpack Program, which filled nearly 500 new backpacks with school supplies for local children in need.

I am also proud to welcome 58 new faculty members, of whom 40 percent are women. The increasedpace of recruiting, thanks to our faculty renewal program, is setting the stage for an even stronger Cornell. These new teachers and researchers are bringing their skills and insights to every college across the university, with an especially large contingent in the humanities.

I was delighted earlier this week to share the news that we have just recruited our new provost for medical affairs and dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Laurie Glimcher, one of our country's most distinguished physician-scientists. She comes to us from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, where she heads one of the top immunology programs in the world. As she prepares to take up her new position on January 1, we thank Dr. Tony Gotto for his 15 years of extraordinary leadership as dean and provost.

As we begin the academic year, I want to introduce three exciting developments about which we will soon be learning more. First, we will celebrate the centennial of Cornell Cooperative Extension and the 20th anniversary of the Public Service Center, making this a good time to focus on public engagement and our international vision as the land grant university to the world.

Second, we will soon announce a new approach to enhancing the diversity of our faculty, staff and student bodies.

Finally, this year we'll begin gearing up for our sesquicentennial celebration, and I invite all of you–students, staff and faculty–to share your ideas with the Sesquicentennial Planning Commission. You can send your suggestions to Vice President Glenn Altschuler at gca1@cornell.edu.

I look forward to our continuing work together. Here's to a wonderful year.

Best regards,

David J. Skorton