Plans take shape for Pollack inauguration, Aug. 24-25


Plans are firming up for the inauguration of Martha E. Pollack as 14th president of Cornell University.

The two-day celebration will be held on the Ithaca campus Aug. 24-25. Public events are free and require no registration.

“Our vision for the inauguration stems from President Pollack’s request that it be a simple and respectful celebration of Cornell’s world-class research, the breadth and rigor of its curricula, and its academic culture dedicated to preparing students to be citizens who make a positive impact on the world,” said Joel Malina, vice president for university relations and co-chair of the Inauguration Steering Committee.

A Festival of Scholarship will open the proceedings, Aug. 24, 4:30-6 p.m. in the atrium of the Physical Sciences Building. Created at Pollack’s request to include students in the inauguration, the festival will feature the breadth of Cornell’s student scholarship. Guests will have the opportunity to interact with undergraduate, graduate and professional students as they share their academic projects in an informal setting. Representatives from each college on the Ithaca campus will be on hand, as well as students from Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech in New York City.

“‘Hey, what are you working on?’ is the best of all possible questions on a university campus, especially when you are in the vicinity of students,” said Charles Van Loan, dean of the university faculty and co-chair of the Inauguration Steering Committee. “The chance to ask that question 30-plus times at the festival will render an unprecedented view of creativity at Cornell through the research of our students.”

An academic symposium, “Universities and the Search for Truth,” will follow, 6:30-8 p.m. in Bailey Hall. This faculty panel discussion will explore the ways in which people assess and communicate information, as well as the role of universities in those activities. Moderated by Bruce Lewenstein, professor of science communication, the panel will include the following faculty members:

  • Kevin Clermont, the Robert D. Ziff Professor of Law;
  • Sarah Murray, associate professor of linguistics;
  • Mor Naaman, associate professor of information science at Cornell Tech;
  • Holly Prigerson, the Irving Sherwood Wright Professor in Geriatrics and professor of sociology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine;
  • David Shalloway, the Greater Philadelphia Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics; and
  • Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, associate professor of English.

The main event, Pollack’s installation ceremony, will take place Aug. 25, 2-4 p.m. The procession will start at Ho Plaza and make its way to the Arts Quad. University leadership, faculty and delegates representing other universities will process. And all living past presidents of Cornell are planning to attend: Frank H.T. Rhodes, Hunter Rawlings, Jeffrey Lehman ’77 and David Skorton. Robert Harrison ’76, chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees, will oversee the installation ceremony.

Afterward, a street fair will follow, 4-5:30 p.m., also on the Arts Quad. The fair will feature performers, musical groups and other entertainers, and food vendors from campus and the Ithaca community.

From an operations standpoint, the Inauguration Steering Committee is committed to creating an event that focuses on sustainability while not losing sight of the celebration.

“We’re going to reuse materials from previous celebrations whenever possible, and we’ll take ecologically friendly steps such as limiting the amount of paper goods, for example,” said Mary Opperman, vice president and chief human resources officer and co-chair of the Inauguration Steering Committee.

Pollack thanked the staff, students, alumni and faculty who have helped with the planning process.

“I’m so grateful to the Cornell community for their contributions to this event,” Pollack said. “Those involved have been generous with their time and their creative ideas. I am looking forward to sharing my inauguration with the wonderful Cornell community.”

For more details as plans progress, check the inauguration website.

Media Contact

John Carberry