Welcome back message from President Skorton

Dear Colleagues:

Whether you are new to Cornell or have been associated with our university for many years, I hope you share my excitement about the year to come. Like many of you, Robin and I have enjoyed greeting members of the Class of 2016, new transfer students, graduate and professional students, and postgraduate trainees around our Ithaca and Weill Cornell Medical College campuses.

One hundred and fifty years ago this year, the Morrill Act established land grant universities to provide people in every state with a sound and practical education. This Presidential election year seems an ideal time to renew and extend our commitment to public engagement and apply our knowledge and skills to lift the world's burdens.

One of our most ambitious current research, education and outreach efforts is Cornell NYC Tech, which not only reflects Cornell's unique history but also offers a new model for how universities, industry, the venture community, private philanthropy, and government can cooperate to promote economic development. We are currently accepting applications for the "beta class" of master's students in computer science, who will begin their program at Cornell NYC Tech in January 2013.

International studies and international engagement remain priorities at Cornell. At my request, the Provosts convened a faculty committee to examine how Cornell can better meet its commitments to international studies and international engagement. We expect their report to be ready soon, and I look forward to learning from the faculty's deliberations and considering bold, new international initiatives.

In addition tothese examples, many other exciting things are in the offing this year, including all of us getting to know our new faculty and staff colleagues.

Of course, challenges remain, and we must continue to address them. The start of the new academic year in Ithaca was marred by two reported bias incidents and three reported incidents of sexual violence, including a rape. The victims of these incidents are receiving assistance and support from university staff. There has been an arrest in one of the bias cases. The Cornell Police are increasing their patrols and seeking information that could aid in their investigations.

I join with Vice Presidents Mary Opperman and Susan Murphy in condemning all actions that threaten the safety and civility of our community. We urge members of our community not only to take precautions in their daily lives by taking advantage of available services such as utilizing Blue Light escorts, but also to work together toward a culture where sexual violence and intolerance are unacceptable. I know you will stand with us in affirming that our community is based on civility and mutual respect and in exemplifying those values every day.

We are moving ahead with the installation of steel mesh below bridges on and adjacent to the Ithaca campus. In addition gorge stewards have been patrolling the gorges since July to educate visitors about gorge safety, and Cornell students have produced a very powerful video on the subject, which is well worth watching. These efforts, and expanded counseling and other components of our caring community initiative, will make our campus safer.

My gratitude and admiration go out to faculty colleagues across the campuses who dedicate their time and creative energy to education, discovery, and public engagement andcontribute to the academic success and personal growth of their students. I also thank the many staff members who, along with returning students, made orientation in Ithaca a success. I congratulate the Cornell Police for placing second in the National Law Enforcement Challenge for the second year in a row. Congratulations as well to those faculty, staff and students who have worked to increase the use of local foods in our dining halls and whose efforts throughout the year have made our campus operations more sustainable.

I hope you share my pride in all that we have accomplished individually and collectively and my resolve to make our university even stronger. I look forward to our continuing work together. Here's to a wonderful year.

David J. Skorton