Cornell President Elizabeth Garrett heralded a future of greater collaboration between Ithaca and New York City at a Sept. 21 reception in honor of her inauguration as the university’s 13th president. Nearly 200 enthusiastic faculty, staff and students of Cornell’s New York City-based units attended the event, which was held at Weill Cornell Medical College’s Belfer Research Building.
“I see a special synergy between our programs in New York City and on our Ithaca campus,” Garrett said. “Cornell is not only established in an amazing college town that facilitates reflection and discussion, but we have a substantial and growing footprint in this great international urban center, full of energy and global connections. This is a combination that no other American research university enjoys.”
She continued: “… nowhere is the potential for deep integration with Ithaca more attainable or richer with promise than here in New York City. We are already a major institution in the city, with facilities that stretch from this world-class clinical and research biomedical complex on the Upper East Side, where we are gathering today, to the financial district in lower Manhattan.”
Garrett cited current programs offered in New York by Weill Cornell, the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, and Cornell Financial Engineering Manhattan, and she called Cornell Cooperative Extension, ILR School programs and the Cornell Tech campus examples of Cornell fulfilling its land-grant mission of outreach and engagement.
“At Friday’s inauguration, I challenged every Cornell college and school to consider how collaboration with Ithaca and New York City – in teaching, research and creative work, or outreach – can help us achieve an unprecedented level of excellence,” Garrett said.
Such excellence comes from faculty, Garrett said, and recruiting the strongest researchers, scholars, creative artists and teachers to programs in Ithaca and New York City.
“Some of these appointments will span both locations, crossing disciplines and academic boundaries,” Garrett said. “Faculty at Cornell Tech already have their tenure homes in departments in Ithaca, and some faculty members have joint appointments at Weill Cornell and the College of Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Human Ecology, Arts and Sciences and elsewhere on the Ithaca campus. We must look for more opportunities of this sort and target rising stars with established reputations, who are here or will join us, as well as our junior scholars who thrive in our unique environment.”
Garrett said faculty at Cornell Tech, Weill Cornell Medical College and other schools and colleges with New York City programs are creating new degrees that “emphasize collaboration, practice-based pedagogy and new delivery platforms.” These include an MBA/M.S. program at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management for health care professionals, and a collaboration of the Law School, Johnson and Cornell Tech.
“All of us must concentrate on how Cornell can build on areas of excellence and offer new innovative graduate degrees, some through technologies that reach around the globe, so that more people are ready for the challenges of the future with skills and knowledge they need to succeed,” Garrett said, adding that she also wants to explore more opportunities for undergrads to have meaningful engagement in the city.
She urged interdisciplinary and intercampus collaboration to solve difficult problems: “We cannot allow physical distance to keep us from integrating all that we do in New York City with the long-established campus in Ithaca, which will always represent the wellspring of the Cornell spirit.”
Garrett pointed to precision medicine, which aims to tailor treatments to patients based on their genetic profiles, as an example where collaboration across the university is critical to solving large, complex problems. Investigators at the Caryl and Israel Englander Institute for Precision Medicine at Weill Cornell and their counterparts in Ithaca can advance knowledge of the molecular and genetic underpinnings of disease, while scientists at Cornell Tech analyze and synthesize big data and small data to contextualize and promote a greater understanding of this burgeoning field. Humanists and health care policy, workplace and legal experts, who assess the ethics and logistics of precision medicine, also play an integral role in furthering this work.
As Cornell moves forward on many fronts in many locations – including New York City, Geneva, New York, Washington, D.C., Paris, Rome and Doha, Qatar – Garrett said the university’s work will require taking risks, “but that should not keep us from being ambitious and bold.”