Cornell Looks for New Ways to Address Mental Health Problems

December 28, 2007

Cornell’s initiative to curb its student suicide rate makes it into the pages of The Wall Street Journal:

After years in which many colleges have said privacy rules prevent them from interceding with troubled students, Cornell is taking the opposite tack. Its “alert team” of administrators, campus police and counselors meets weekly to compare notes on signs of student emotional problems. People across campus, from librarians to handymen, are trained to recognize potentially dangerous behavior. And starting this year, Cornell is taking advantage of a rarely used legal exception to student-privacy rights: It is assuming students are dependents of their parents, allowing the school to inform parents of concerns without students’ permission.

Notice the story slug: “safety school”. Good one, WSJ.


Cornell Blogs: The Next Generation

November 20, 2007

A year ago, Chronicle Online posted a story about the Life on the Hill project. In addition to highlighting the new University-sponsored student blogs, the article provided a comprehensive list of all Cornell blogs. Now that a year has passed, let’s revisit these blogs to see how they are doing now.

Student blogging project
Alex Payne ’09
Ben Crovella ’07: inactive
Caroline Dias ’08
Jennifer Lin ’09
Jenna Bromberg ’08
Nikki Gusz ’08

Other student blogs
Charlotte Acharya, Grad: almost exclusively baby pictures
Elliott Back ’06: no more breaking Cornell news
Christian Montoya ’07: inactive, old content gone
Stephen Miller: inactive, old content gone
Erica Mallare ’08: inactive
Shane Murphy, Grad: old content gone, farewell note remains
Claudia Rodriguez ’08: now a wedding blog
Dean Strelau: inactive, old content gone
Center for Jewish Living student residence: inactive
President of Facebook: Cornell-related posts are just follow-ups
AdmitSpit — Polina Minkin ’10 contributes to this nationwide group blog on admissions and academics: inactive

Semi-anonymous freshman blogs
Bungee Jump: inactive
Cornell Days: inactive
Karma Moths: one post in the last two months
Wasting Forty Grand: inactive

General Cornell blogs
Overheard at Cornell: two posts in the last two months
– Livejournal message boards and not exactly blogs to begin with
MetaEzra — a group blog by Matthew Nagowski ’05, Andy Guess ’05 and Marc Zawel ’04: slowly becoming less Cornell-related

Ivy League-wide blogs
IvyGate: pumping out multiple posts on most days
IvyLeak: inactive, old content gone

Although some of these remain active, most aren’t, especially when accounting for the Life on the Hill blogs which are expected to meet a certain quota. According to BusinessWeek, “after 3 months on average, most bloggers realize that writing about their politics, launch haunts, or co-workers isn’t for them”. That makes sense based on what we see above. However, the same post says “we’re still seeing growth in the blogosphere”. It appears the same cannot be said for the Cornell blogosphere.

There have been virtually no new players during the last year. There are three new Life on the Hill blogs: Alex Cain ’10, Matt Hintsa ’10, and Joe McCourt ’10. Cornell Abroad came out with its own version called Voices from Cornell Abroad, a group blog by three students studying overseas. Engineering Admissions has several blogs as well (why they are hosted on Blogger is beyond me).

So far, all of these are Cornell-sponsored endeavors. As far as independent blogs go, the offering are slim. OTR, a network of college-oriented blogs, launched Cornell OTR. Despite high activity last summer, there hasn’t been a post in the last month. There is also CornellNewsWatch, but that is news aggregator rather than a blog. It does provide additional exposure to the few remaining Cornell blogs in an easy-to-digest format, so it deserves a mention for that.

Are these the last days of blogging at Cornell? They very well could be.

Lehman Keeps Presidential Compensation After Stepping Down

November 13, 2007

It is mid-November, time for The Chronicle of Higher Education to release executive compensation numbers. The Cornell Daily Sun article sums up the relevant info nicely:

After stepping down as Cornell’s 11th president, Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77, who left office under controversial circumstances, was compensated $785,518 for the 2005-06 fiscal year — over $75,000 more than then-Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III. … Lehman’s post-job compensation in 2005-06 was more than all the Ivy presidents, except Yale University President Richard Levin, who earned $869,026.

As you may remember, Lehman made over $1 million in 2004-05, the most in the Ivy League. Rawlings took over as the president on July 1, 2005.

New Bill Addresses File Sharing on College Campuses

November 13, 2007

Elliott Back recently posted a blog entry dealing with file sharing at Cornell. He was extremely concerned with how the administration handles takedown notices:

Cornell is able to block copyright holders from identifying alleged music pirates by filing a motion to block or quash the subpoena. Cornell also could, like Professor Charles Nesson at Harvard, actively refuse to help the RIAA’s police mission. … the purpose of a University is to teach, not enforce an archaic notion of copyright.

Well, it appears colleges are about to encounter additional scrutiny stemming from P2P traffic issues. Ars Technica:

A massive education bill (747-page PDF) introduced into Congress contains a provision that would force colleges and universities to offer “technology-based deterrents” to file-sharing under the pain of losing all federal financial aid. Section 494 of the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 is entitled “Campus-Based Digital Theft Prevention” that could have just as easily been called “Motion Picture and Recording Industry Subsidies,” as it could force schools into signing up for subscription-based services like Napster and Rhapsody.

Cornell Alumni Magazine Mentions Jeff

October 2, 2007

This blog has reached a new level. It finally received coverage in a printed publication. And not just any publication, but Cornell Alumni Magazine (you may find the full story on page 33 of the September/October 2007 issue). The article by Michael Morisy ’07 mentions:

The creator of a fake Facebook profile purporting to represent former President Jeffrey Lehman ’77 writes a widely read blog where he comments on the intersections of social networking and higher education, often with a Cornell twist.

Cornell Alumni Magazine happens to be the most widely circulated Cornell-related publication out there, at least based on data easily found online. Thus, I think it is fair to say that I am now officially Cornell’s version of Fake Steve Jobs (covered by NY Times, BusinessWeek, Reuters, CNBC, etc.). Note to publishers: unlike Steve, I have not signed a book deal yet.

Cornell Named Hottest Ivy by Newsweek

August 13, 2007

Cornell must be doing something right to be labeled one of 25 hottest schools in the nation.


Unlike the other Ivies, Cornell is a land-grant college emphasizing problem solving as well as scholarly debate. The university boasts a world-class engineering college and top-flight liberal arts, science and fine arts. The hotel school is considered the world’s best. Cornellians, proud of the variety on campus, point to the president, David Skorton, a cardiologist, jazz musician and computer scientist who is the first in his family to have a college education.

Via IvyGate.

NY Times Profiles Cornell Residential Colleges

July 29, 2007

The New York Times published a piece today on the growing popularity of residential colleges around the country. It was given a clever title – The Residential Collage. Taking the center stage is none other than Cornell University’s own West Campus Residential Initiative.

It presented an interesting history of the project:

The West Campus Initiative at Cornell is emblematic of how residential life shapes a campus. It began under Hunter R. Rawlings III, the university’s president from 1995 to 2003. Mr. Rawlings arrived to find what he called “a divided campus.” The dorms then on West Campus, undistinguished buildings popularly known as U-halls, were located near many fraternity houses, and tended to attract white suburban students interested in a “pre-fraternity experience,” Mr. Rawlings says. Most minority students gravitated to the dorms on North Campus. Seeing an opportunity both to cross-pollinate the campus and to provide incoming students with greater supervision during their first year, Mr. Rawlings herded all the freshmen to North Campus. Then he embarked on the West Campus project, which he saw as a way of combating another tradition at Cornell — very hard work offset by very hard partying.

Missing from the article completely are Lehman and Skorton, but let’s not get distracted. It gets better:

“It had become clear that there was a 4:30 p.m. cutoff at the university, after which many students entered an intellect-free zone,” says Mr. Kramnick, who was named the first vice provost for undergraduate education in 2001. Cornell, he adds, prided itself on giving students independence in their choice of housing, “but for some students, better students who were looking for more intellectually oriented living arrangements, we didn’t have it.”

Also missing from the story are any real student opinions:

Indeed, interviews with a dozen students at Cornell would indicate that in loco amicus is thriving. They don’t think the West Campus houses have changed campus life – not yet – and most students see them not so much as a new learning philosophy as a snazzy new place to live.

Out of that dozen, only two make it into the article. Both were West Campus residents last semester.