Staff members roll out the red carpet for the installation ceremony to be held Aug. 25 on the Arts Quad.

Inauguration showcases community spirit, skills at work

A staff member finishes installing an inauguration banner a week before the event.

At 2 p.m. Aug. 25, all eyes will be on one person, Martha E. Pollack, as she steps up to the podium to be installed as the university’s 14th president.

But behind that moment is the work of hundreds of staff, students, faculty, alumni and local community members, whose planning began months ago and continued through the summer months – lining up activities; inviting vendors, program participants, performers and special guests; designing and hanging banners; producing communications; and organizing volunteers.

As the proverb says, it takes a village.

More specifically, it takes:

Chair setup for the installation ceremony begins, aided by a map of the Arts Quad.

  • 78 presenters – including 71 graduate, professional and undergraduate students, six faculty and one postdoc – at the Festival of Scholarship, along with 20 volunteers to help facilitate.
  • 300 volunteers setting up, tearing down and running the Street Fair; distributing regalia or food; ushering for the installation ceremony; or serving as talent or event hosts.
  • 300-plus student and other performers: 60 dancers; 50 performance artists; three bands; more than 100 in choirs and other vocal groups; and the Cornell Big Red Marching Band.
  • More than 100 staff members from Infrastructure, Properties and Planning, who place 4,000 chairs at the installation ceremony and other events; construct several stage platforms; set up more than 75 barricades and cones; and haul 80 straw bales and erect more than 50 pop-up tents and sunshades for the Street Fair.
  • Delegates from nearly 90 college, universities and learned societies; representatives from the university’s assemblies, administration, alumni and trustees; local and government officials; and hundreds of faculty who will march in the procession.
  • More than 20 staff from Cornell Information Technologies’ Video Engineering and Event Services to provide Wi-Fi availability on the Arts Quad and livestreaming the academic symposium and installation ceremony.
  • Electrical engineers and other staff to help with sound, electrical and lighting systems in Bailey Hall and other venues.
  • Staff from Cornell University Police, Environmental Health and Safety, and Cornell Health Services to ensure the safety of all attending.

“All the talent and skills needed to plan and deliver an event of this caliber, reflective of Cornell’s diversity in ideas, people, academic disciplines and opportunities for discovery and growth, are right here, on campus and locally,” said Jason Cole, associate vice president for university relations and co-chair of the Inauguration Operations Committee. “All these talents, combined with an incredible community spirit and desire to officially welcome President Pollack to Cornell, are providing us with a truly memorable two-day occasion.”

Staff members from Infrastructure, Properties and Planning erect more than 50 pop-up tents and sunshades for the Street Fair.

Betsy Shrier, senior director of administration and business operations for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and co-chair of the Inauguration Operations Committee, said the event celebrates many facets of Cornell’s diversity. “The essence of Cornell is represented by the wide range of student projects undertaken by our diverse student body; the varying perspectives of our faculty on universities’ role in the search for truth; the many students, faculty, staff, alumni, and local government and academic community members participating in and volunteering for this event; and the profusion of sounds, sights and tastes of the Street Fair.”

The Street Fair will feature a variety of culinary offerings by 14 Cornell, alumni and local area vendors. Among the more than 40 items to sample: Cornell Catering will serve 1,000 pounds of chicken; 1,200 ears of corn and more than 300 loaves of bread.

And the Cornell ice cream crafted in Pollack’s honor? Volunteers will serve from 200 3-gallon tubs produced just for the occasion.

Media Contact

John Carberry