Cornell raises nearly $10 million in 2008-2009; $1 million for environmental studies

MOUNT VERNON – Despite a year of economic turmoil, Cornell College could still count on its supporters to provide its students, community, and campus with one extraordinary opportunity after another.

Cornell closed out the 2008-2009 year strongly, raising $9.8 million in gifts, pledges, and grants, including nearly $1 million for the environmental studies program and $2.2 million for the annual fund. Nearly 4,000 donors contributed to funds that allowed students to study overseas, renovated dormitories, created new classes and programs, brought in lecturers and provided student scholarships.

Once again I am humbled by the tremendous generosity from friends and alumni of Cornell College. In a difficult financial year when less than 50 percent of non-profits reported an increase in donations our generous supporters propelled the Hilltop to an increase of nearly $1 million.” said Vice President for Alumni and College Advancement Peter Wilch. “There are many charities our alumni and friends choose to support and I am grateful so many count Cornell as a top priority for their philanthropy.”

These funds are creating opportunities for students that make the Cornell experience exceptional. Over 20 classes were held overseas this year, nearly 30 students had funded Cornell Fellowships all around the country, and renovations were completed that created or upgraded residential living spaces, improved offices and services, and created classroom and study spaces.

“I’m especially grateful to those who supported us in a very challenging year,” said Cornell College President Les Garner. “These gifts strengthen us in many ways, most importantly by allowing our students to pursue a truly distinctive liberal arts education.”

Many of these opportunities were made possible by donations to the Annual Fund, the yearly trust that creates an immediate and profound impact, enriching the lives of every student and faculty member, every day, in all corners of the college, through scholarships, improved teaching environments, and classroom improvements.

“We had an incredible response to the Annual Fund this year,” said Annual Fund Director Trish Kohl. “That so many stepped up and contributed in such a difficult year shows how much people care about Cornell and our students.”

This was also a banner year for the environmental studies program. The program, one of the first in the nation when it was formed in 1975 by geology professor and alumnus Herb Hendriks, received nearly $1 million in support this year from the Cornell College Class of 1958, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Environmental studies at Cornell is a program with extraordinary potential,” said Garner. “It typifies what a liberal arts education should look like.”

This year also marked the completion of renovations to Pfeiffer Residence Hall, The Paul K. Scott Alumni Center at Rood House, and The Peter Paul Luce Admission Center at Wade House. All of these renovations were made possible by generous gifts from Cornell donors.

Cornell is distinctive in U.S. higher education in offering the combination of liberal arts and science study within the One Course At A Time framework in an active residential community. Cornell is featured as one of 40 institutions in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives,” was cited by the New York Times as one of 20 “stealth powerhouses,”  and has consistently ranked among the best liberal arts schools in the country according to the U.S. News & World Report, Forbes Magazine, and The Fiske Guide to Colleges.

On Cornell’s One Course At A Time calendar, students study a single subject for a 3 1/2-week term. The average class size is 16. Nine terms are offered each year, enabling students to pursue multiple internships and international domestic off-campus programs during the year.