Tag Archives: cornell

Hunter Rawlings, on Liberal Education

“As you have no doubt noticed, many people in the U.S. have lost faith in liberal education. From governors to legislators, from pundits to parents, Americans increasingly view higher education as purely instrumental—as a ticket to a job, nothing less, nothing more. This vocational view sees college as a commodity: you purchase education the way you buy a car, and the return on investment is measured in strictly financial terms:

How much do graduates make?

How much do individual majors make?

What percentage of new graduates get jobs?

Why major in subjects that do not lead directly to high-paying jobs?

The Arts College does not see itself as a vocational school. Neither do our other colleges, which depend significantly upon the Arts College for many of their fundamental courses.


What is liberal education? I take “liberal” in its original Latin sense as an education for free people; that is, people who do not live in a dictatorship, but have an active role to play in the life of their society. Liberal education liberates students to think for themselves as individuals, to develop their creative capacities, and to contribute to public life, not just earn money as a cog in a machine.


A university’s curriculum says a lot about what that university purports to be. The Stanford faculty recently published a well-conceived report on the Stanford curriculum. Princeton is about to release its report on the same topic. In its turn, I would like to see Cornell give strong and clear answers to the following questions:

For tomorrow’s world, what should a well-educated person know?

What should she be able to do with her mind?

To contribute to her society?

These are tough questions. They are particularly pertinent now, given the state of this country, when our national discourse has descended to the language of the gutter. It is the responsibility of universities to do what they can to raise the level of discourse. Here are a few thoughts:

First, we need citizens who can read closely and critically; otherwise they will be easy prey for political and Internet nonsense.

Second, we need citizens who can reason intelligently and ethically; otherwise, we will continue to suffer from shallow arguments and dishonest leadership.

Third, we need citizens who can speak and write clearly and persuasively; otherwise, they will be incapable of convincing others of their views.

Fourth, we need citizens who can do independent research; otherwise, they will depend upon someone else to tell them what the facts are.

Fifth, we need citizens who can analyze quantitative arguments common to math and the sciences; otherwise, they will be unable to assess issues of critical importance.

Finally, we need individuals who have intellectual curiosity and a lifelong desire to keep learning; without those assets, they will not escape the vapid consumerism and celebrity culture that is all around us.

Those are general goals, as I see it, of a liberal education.”

Cornell University President Hunter Rawlings, “State of the University”, October 28th 2016. Comments have been condensed and reformatted.

Hot Truck Memories

Reflections In The Glass Facade

The big project for my department (and the entire Medical College) at the end of 2006 was the launch of our new clinical care building at 1305 York Avenue. For much of the length of the project, those of us in the IT shop simply referred to it by the most appropriate acronym: it was the new York Avenue Building, so it became YAB.

But eventually, the building was given a more donor-friendly name, and it became the Weill Greenberg Center. The appropriate acronym became WGC.

I refer to it now, as I did then, as “YAB”. Sometimes “1305”. But never “WGC”.

“WGC” still only means one thing to me: Wet Garlic and Cheese.

Continue reading Hot Truck Memories

An Abridged List Of Sports Miracles

The 1980 Men’s Hockey team beating the Russians at the buzzer.

The 1984 Miami-Boston college playoff, where Doug Flutie threw a hail mary to win the game.

Manchester United winning the Premiership, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League in the 1998-1999 season.

The Red Sox sweeping the 2004 World Series.

The Cornell Men’s Basketball team getting an automatic seed for the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Never Have I Been More Proud To Be A Cornellian

Stephen Colbert was in Ithaca over the weekend, and my love for the man just grows and grows.

Moving on to Cornell students, he said, “You people get more of your news from me and this guy named Jon Stewart than from any other source. Who thinks that I am news?”

After a smattering of applause, he asked, “Who thinks I’m not news but gets their news from me anyway?”

When the crowd roared, Colbert scoffed, “And this is the Ivy League! Shame on you! I make shit up all the time!”

So awesome.

Colbert, who is running for president in South Carolina, announced that, under new sponsorship, his campaign would be the “Hail to the Cheese Nacho Cheese Doritos Stephen Colbert 2008 Campaign.”

“I will be as good for this country as Doritos are for your body,” he said.

And what about a campaign slogan? He suggested, “Don’t just waste your vote — waste your vote on me.”

SO awesome.


While it hasn’t formally been announced to the entire department, it was seemingly announced to enough people last night that now seems to be a good time to post about it.

I am no longer a *Technology Services Analyst* with ITS. Effective July 1, I am now the *Manager, Collaborative Technologies*.

I will be heading up a new group that covers a lot of ground – wikis, enterprise IM, enterprise syndication, video conferencing, etc. This is, unsurprisingly, the stuff that I tend to be knowledgeable about. I’m looking forward to diving into it in a formal leadership role. I’m especially looking forward to see how we can do more to link technology between the three Cornell campuses.

Someone Buy Uncle Ezra A Drink

The legendary [Dear Uncle Ezra](http://ezra.cornell.edu/) turned 21 this month [according to the Chronicle](http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb07/UncleEzra.sl.html).

Dear Uncle Ezra was [the very first](http://ezra.cornell.edu/history.php) anonymous advice column on the Internet/Intarwebs/Webinet, debuting in 1986. Questions are answered by an anonymous Cornell staffer who farms out what he does not know to other experts within the college. The service is available to everyone, not just the Cornell affiliated.

The [first question ever answered](http://ezra.cornell.edu/posting.php?timestamp=527313600#question1) on the service is one certainly appropriate for Ithaca:


DUE is, in its own way, quite interesting. It’s worth reading, or at least [subscribing to](http://ezra.cornell.edu/rss.php).

(If you’re looking for something a little more groupthink, you had damn well better know about Ask Metafilter by now.)

Far Above Cayuga’s Wat~1

## [Cornell gets $25 million grant to build William H. Gates Hall, launching new home for computing and information science](http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Jan06/GatesCIS.ws.html)

> The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $25 million to Cornell University to support the construction of the signature building for a planned information campus that will bring together the several units of the university’s Faculty of Computing and Information Science (CIS).

> The new building, to house the Department of Computer Science and elements of the Information Science Program, will be named William H. Gates Hall. The Committee on Alumni Affairs and Development of the Cornell Board of Trustees approved the building’s name at its meeting in New York City, Jan. 20.

> According to Kenneth Birman, professor of computer science and chair of the CIS building committee, the information campus project is still in the feasibility study stage. Gates Hall is estimated at 100,000 square feet and projected to cost about $50 million. Expanded construction beyond the signature building is planned, based on support from Cornell and additional donors. When completed, the information campus will be a complex of linked buildings integrated with a variety of green spaces and common spaces designed to involve students and provide opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

> About a dozen possible locations are being evaluated, Birman said. The proposal for the project calls for the information campus to be strategically located in proximity to the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences, the Life Sciences Technology Building and other key academic partners.

> Gates Hall will house a lecture hall, faculty offices, classrooms, laboratories, student project spaces and conference rooms. The building will make innovative use of technology to foster collaboration both on and off campus, and it will include facilities specifically designed for CIS researchers whose primary offices might be elsewhere on the campus. As in Duffield Hall and the Life Sciences Technology Building, which is under construction, there will be formal and informal meeting spaces to foster “intellectual collisions” and cross-pollination.

I love that “intellectual collisions” is in quotes while cross-pollination is not. Also, I can’t wait to see where the hell they find 100,000 square feet of space on campus.

End alumni griping!

(thanks to Dad for the link)