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The Essentials

$100M gift launches new Weill Cornell campaign
Sandy Weill and Laurie Glimcher

Sandy Weill and Laurie Glimcher Photo: René Perez. See larger image

In September, Weill Cornell Medical College announced it received a $100 million gift from longtime benefactors Joan and Sanford I. Weill '55 and the Weill Family Foundation to launch the college's $300 million Driving Discoveries, Changing Lives campaign, dedicated to using the most advanced scientific approaches to rapidly translate research breakthroughs into innovative treatments. (At left: Sanford Weill with Laurie Glimcher, Weill Cornell dean and Cornell's provost for medical affairs).

The new campaign will bring to fruition Weill Cornell's Belfer Research Building – opening in January as a hub for multidisciplinary biomedical research. Funds will help recruit the world's best and brightest scientists to advance research and treatment. Campaign priority areas include cancer; cardiovascular disease; diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome; neurological disorders; children's health and internal medicine; precision medicine and regenerative medicine.

Alumni entrepreneurs share career stories

More than 350 alumni, students, faculty and entrepreneurs enjoyed a full day of talks by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists at Entrepreneurship@Cornell's summit in New York City Oct. 11.

Entrepreneurship@Cornell NYC summit

Entrepreneurship@Cornell NYC summit. See larger image

Focused on the theme, "The Beginning: From Nothing to Something," the event featured entrepreneurs including Yahoo's Kathy Savitt '85, Shake Shack's Randy Garutti '97 and Practice Makes Perfect founder Karim Abouelnaga '13, who told stories of the ups and downs of running their own enterprises.

"We thought this summit should be about entrepreneurship from the lens of Ezra Cornell," said Scott Belsky '02, founder of Behance, vice president for products/community at Adobe and moderator, "that any person should be able to solve any problem as an entrepreneur."

The summit featured TED-style talks by 10 speakers and networking.

Keynote speaker Savitt, chief marketing officer at Yahoo, said her government major has proven beneficial throughout her career as an entrepreneur and with large companies like Yahoo.

"If you have a liberal arts background, you are going to learn to grasp abstractions in a way that no one could ever teach you in a marketing course," she said.

Other speakers included Niraj Shah '95 and Steve Conine '95, founders of Wayfair, an online home goods retailer. The friends lived three doors apart as freshmen and started their first company at Cornell after taking a course on entrepreneurship in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Cornell is 'best value'
Kiplinger's rankings page

Kiplinger's rankings page. See larger image

As the nation debates the rising cost of higher education, Cornell students can at least feel assured that they're getting their money's worth. Cornell is ranked No. 15 on Kiplinger's list of the best values in private universities for 2014 – up from No. 18 last year – on a list of the top 100. The university has appeared on the Kiplinger list for several years, moving a few places higher each year.

The top 50 liberal arts colleges and top 50 universities were listed in the December issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. The full list is available online at

The rankings are based on data from more than 600 private universities and liberal arts colleges, and take into account tuition, room and board and other costs – with adjustments for financial aid policies – balanced against academic quality as measured by graduation and retention rates and student-faculty ratios.

Cornell's commitment to financial aid helps ameliorate tuition increases for more than 48 percent of undergraduate students, said Elmira Mangum, vice president for budget and planning. "Cornell will administer nearly $245 million in financial aid this year that benefits roughly 6,700 students," Mangum said.

In September, U.S. News and World Report ranked Cornell ninth in its "Great Schools at Great Prices" ranking, a similar measure that balances costs against academic quality.

Jane Lynch gets her star

"Glee" star Jane Lynch, M.F.A. '84, was honored Sept. 4 with the 2,505th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6640 Hollywood Blvd.

Jane Lynch at Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony

Jane Lynch at Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony. Photo: Dan Steinberg/Invision. See larger image

Lynch, who studied theater at Cornell, won an Emmy in 2010 and a Golden Globe award in 2011 for her role as cheerleader coach Sue Sylvester on the Fox series "Glee" and has appeared in numerous other TV and film roles. Last May, she played Miss Hannigan in the Broadway revival of "Annie."

Lynch became the first woman among at least nine other Cornellians with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: actor Dane Clark '26, actor Dan Duryea '28, actor/editor Hal Fishman '53, director Howard Hawks '18, comedian Bill Maher '78, actor Adolphe Menjou (1912), the Wizard in "The Wizard of Oz" Frank Morgan (1912), "Superman" Christopher Reeve '74 and actor Franchot Tone '27.

Coffman receives inaugural World Agriculture Prize

Throughout his 43-year career, Cornell plant breeder Ronnie Coffman has sown seeds of scientific and social change across continents and generations.

Ronnie Coffman

Ronnie Coffman. Photo: Darcy Branchini. See larger image

Now his efforts have been recognized with the inaugural World Agriculture Prize, awarded by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences, an organization that represents more than 600 universities worldwide.

As a rice breeder at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines in the 1970s, Coffman, Ph.D. '71, helped one generation survive the ravages of war by ensuring food security throughout Southeast Asia.

As leader of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative – and the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development – he is helping another generation combat new strains of wheat rust that threaten to devastate world food supplies.

Coffman is the professor behind Cornell's popular Agriculture in Developing Nations course and the director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He organizes Ph.D. training courses at the West African Center for Crop Improvement and mentors the next generation of plant breeders and international development professionals.

A Kentucky native, Coffman arrived at Cornell as a graduate student in 1967. His first trip off the continent was to Puerto Rico as a participant in the class he now leads. Coffman now travels more than 150 days and 250,000 miles a year in pursuit of advancements in agriculture and rural development.

Worth a thousand words

Some of Cornell's most rare and fascinating collections come online every year, thanks to a program coordinated by Cornell University Library and funded by the College of Arts of Sciences.

Indian Raga Mala painting detail

Indian Raga Mala painting detail. Image: Cornell University Library. See larger image

Spread across multiple continents and millennia, the subjects of this year's awards in the Grants Program for Digital Collections in Arts and Sciences include:

  • More than 2,000 plaster casts and impressions of engraved gems and amulets, assembled by A.D. White;
  • A slide collection of Indian Raga Mala paintings;
  • Fragile videotapes essential for teaching the history and theory of digital art; and
  • Squeezes, or paper impressions, created in Turkey during a Cornell expedition in 1907.

The program is in its fourth year. Earlier projects preserved and digitized memorabilia from President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign and the diaries of an Egyptian writer.

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