Sunday, May 16, 2004

Cornell's New President

On Friday I went to an alumni reception for Jeffrey Lehman, new president of Cornell University. Besides learning that the cinderblock dorms where I spent my freshman year are finally being demolished, a number of interesting aspects of university life came out of the question and answer session.

One question asked about lack of student activism on campus. Lehman acknowledged the problem outside of environmental issues and told of his plan for a mock presidential election at Cornell before the real election. This seemed like a weak answer--mock elections we had in high school. I doubt college students could get excited about a mock election when most of them can vote in the real thing.

On the other political end was a question about the liberal bias in faculty. Lehman acknowledged this as well but didn't consider it a problem as long as the conservative voice was not silenced. This was a good answer.

On affirmative action he said that Cornell needed more minority applicants and was working on a suggestion to start attracting students even in middle school. And someone asked a question about whether Cornell should have common core courses for the students, an interesting issue for me since even small changes in the University of Chicago's traditionally strong core have caused major controversy. Lehman said that Cornell will continue its tradition of not having any fixed course requirements for all students (besides the swimming test).

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