The moving vans have pulled away, and the throngs of students have thinned. It is actually possible to find a seat in the library or an empty patch of grass on the Arts Quad. At first glance, the campus seems uncharacteristically quiet. A closer look, however, reveals that there’s plenty going on.
Approximately 3,600 students from more than 37 countries are currently enrolled in credit classes on campus, off campus, and online through the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions (SCE). They are joined by another approximately 975 students in SCE’s noncredit summer programs and almost 8,000 visitors to the free summer events series, making for a diverse and thriving summer community.
Between May and August, Summer Session students can earn up to 15 credits as they catch up or get ahead in their studies, fulfill requirements or focus on a particularly challenging subject. And, of course, they can check off item #31 in the list of 161 things every Cornellian should do: “Enjoy Ithaca’s two months of warm weather – spend a summer here!”
More than 1,000 of the summer students on campus are high schoolers in the Summer College program, which brings talented 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders to campus to take classes for credit and experience college life. Summer College students take three- or six-week classes alongside Cornell undergraduates, taught by some of Cornell’s finest faculty, in programs ranging from architecture, debate, engineering and hotel operations, to law, research, social change and veterinary medicine. Summer College also offers a free college fair (July 20 and open to all) and admissions counseling to help students choose and apply to colleges.
Cornell’s Adult University (CAU), “a learning vacation” for the family, combines academics with the fun of a summer trip to Ithaca. Adults can take noncredit classes led by Cornell faculty on subjects ranging from Islamic civilization to nanotextiles and may choose to live on campus or off. Parents or grandparents can bring children or teenagers with them; this year, nearly a third will bring youngsters. The younger children live in the same dorms, share two meals a day with family members and spend the rest of their time taking part in activities and field trips. About 500 children are expected to participate in CAU youth programs this summer.
Adults enrolled in CAU range in age from 30 to 90. Although most are Cornell alumni or spouses of alumni, up to 25 percent are non-Cornellians who heard about the program by word-of-mouth or online. Catherine Penner, director of CAU, said all students in the program share “a spirit of inquiry and a delight in taking a learning vacation, in stretching themselves intellectually, artistically, or physically here on the gorgeous Cornell campus.”
Of the more than 230 faculty members teaching courses this summer, about two-thirds are Cornell faculty members. Most visiting faculty are Cornellians in one way or another, be they alumni, former professors or former visiting professors.
Students on campus have no shortage of things to do. SCE organizes free weekly events through July 31. The Wednesday lecture series by Cornell and visiting academics features such topics as post-Civil War Reconstruction and the death of Caesar. Linda Rayor, senior lecturer in the Department of Entomology, will start the series with her talk “A Romance with Spiders: 50 Shades of Arachnids” on Wednesday, July 1. A concert series brings live music to the Arts Quad every Friday; performers include singer-songwriter Joe Crookston on July 17 and the afro-funk band Mutron Warriors on July 24, among others.
On Tuesday evenings, a variety of performances are offered at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, including the Cornell Faculty Jazz Quintet on July 7 and “Ezra’s Circus” on July 14 – a special sesquicentennial homage to the circus as it existed in the year of Cornell’s founding.
Cornell may seem quiet in the summer but don’t let that fool you. There’s a lot going on.
Sascha Hernández ’17 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.