Year end message from President Skorton
May 21, 2010
At the end of the academic year, we normally look back at our experiences as a community. This year, however, I believe it is particularly important for us to look forward, as well: reflecting on our challenges and accomplishments but focusing on what they mean for our future.
First, I want to thank everyone at Cornell for your ideas and actions as we worked together toward balancing our budget, streamlining the administration, reallocating resources and setting the strategic direction for the university in the years ahead. Thanks to you, Cornell's impact around the world continues to grow as we apply new solutions to recurring challenges, from preserving student access and protecting our responsibility to creativity and discovery, to strengthening the university's commitment to public engagement. We have entered a time when our immediate priorities will be less about erecting new buildings and more about supporting the work of our students, faculty, and staff in new ways. The campus's full engagement in this process makes us stronger over the long run.
We have made significant strides in minimizing the need for substantial layoffs, while still achieving the budget reductions that are required to be a financially healthy, successful, and leaner institution. We still have some work to do; but, by not refilling positions vacated over the past eighteen months, we need to take far fewer job actions at this stage than we had once feared.
We must now turn our attention to aligning our highest priority work with the available resources, and do so more effectively. In short, we need to identify the specific tasks we will stop doing to focus on those activities that are most critical to our core mission. Once we are able to return, in earnest, to recruiting new faculty at an appropriate rate -- because they are the foundation upon which the university's success will depend -- we will have fully rounded the corner. That day is near. There will be some increase in faculty hiring during the upcoming academic year, accelerating in the years to follow.
Together, we have overcome a most difficult year – illness, job losses, austere budgets, reorganizations and strategic planning. We carry in our hearts the memory of lost friends and colleagues. Cornell is a caring community where the struggle of one of us is a concern for all of us. We reach out to each other in times of need and work together to build a better place.
I am proud that our campus community is organizing itself to be, as called for in the new strategic plan, a top-10 research university in the nation and world, and a model university for the interweaving of liberal education and fundamental knowledge with practical education, committed to make a difference in solving societal and world problems.
I hope you enjoy your time away from the university this summer. For those who are moving on to new opportunities, please know that you have our gratitude and good wishes. For all of us, please take time to rest and reflect. I look forward to seeing you on campus and around town this summer and next fall.
As always, I am grateful and honored to be your colleague.
David J. Skorton