President shares Cornell’s core values in welcome message

President Martha E. Pollack sent the following message to the Cornell community Aug. 28:

As we begin the 2019-2020 academic year, I want to take this opportunity to welcome all of you to – or back to – campus. The first days of a new semester are, for all of us, a time of excitement and potential: a time to look ahead at the boundless possibilities that await all of us at Cornell. They are also a time of ambition: a time to reassess what we wish to achieve and whom we aspire to become, both as individuals and as a community.

As those of you returning to Cornell will remember, last semester we undertook a community-wide process of developing, through focus groups, listening sessions, and feedback, a statement of Cornell’s Core Values. The creation of such a statement, recommended by the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate and the Provost’s Task Force to Enhance Faculty Diversity, was intended both to develop a shared sense of what it means to be a Cornellian, and as a way to share Cornell’s culture, standards, and expectations with those new to our community. I am now pleased to share the statement of core values (below).

Cornell is a uniquely American university built on uniquely American ideals of opportunity, diversity, and free speech. “Any person… any study” is a reflection of that legacy – of our founding principle that an institution that is open, to people and to ideas, will create a better environment for discovery and learning than one that is narrow in whom it will admit or what it will teach. This belief, at the heart of Cornell’s identity for 154 years, is now our responsibility: to strive always for excellence and purpose, to be open to the ideas and people we encounter here, and to take an active role in building a community of scholarship and engagement where every member has the chance to thrive.

I wish you all the best for a wonderful and productive start to the semester.



Purposeful Discovery

We value the process of discovery through learning, teaching, scholarship, and innovation to advance the University’s mission, in all cases striving with integrity for excellence and purpose. The search for and the dissemination of knowledge are tightly linked: as A. D. White noted, “The power of discovering truth and the power of imparting it are almost invariably found together.”

Free and Open Inquiry and Expression

We are a community whose very purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. We value free and open inquiry and expression – tenets that underlie academic freedom – even of ideas some may consider wrong or offensive. Inherent in this commitment is the corollary freedom to engage in reasoned opposition to messages to which one objects.

A Community of Belonging

As a university founded to be a place where “…any person can find instruction…,” we value diversity and inclusion, and we strive to be a welcoming, caring, and equitable community where students, faculty, and staff with different backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn, innovate, and work in an environment of respect, and feel empowered to engage in any community conversation.

Exploration across Boundaries

Ezra Cornell embraced a vision that we would be a place to “…find instruction in any study.” To that end, we value the importance of all academic disciplines and celebrate the power of connections among them.

Changing Lives through Public Engagement

As the land-grant institution of New York, with our main campus within the ancestral homelands of the Cayuga Nation and a long history of national and international connections, we value engagement in our community, our state, and the broader world, learning about their needs and strengths, and applying the knowledge we create for the benefit of society.

Respect for the Natural Environment

We value our role in advancing solutions for a sustainable future and we recognize the close relationship between people and the Earth, acting in ways to live and work sustainably.

Media Contact

John Carberry