Cornell University - History

History

Cornell University was founded on April 27, 1865 as the result of a New York State (NYS) Senate bill that named the university as the state's land grant institution. Senator Ezra Cornell offered his farm in Ithaca, New York as a site and $500,000 of his personal fortune as an initial endowment. Fellow senator and experienced educator Andrew Dickson White agreed to be the first president. During the next three years, White oversaw the construction of the initial two buildings and traveled around the globe to attract students and faculty. The university was inaugurated on October 7, 1868, and 412 men were enrolled the next day.

Andrew Dickson White

Cornell continued to be a technological innovator applying its research to its own campus as well as to outreach efforts. For example, it was one of the first university campuses to use electricity to light the grounds from a water-powered dynamo in 1883. Since 1894, Cornell has included state-funded statutory colleges and has also administered research and extension activities that have been jointly funded by state and federal matching funds. Cornell has had an active alumni since its earliest classes and was one of the first universities to include alumni-elected representatives on its Board of Trustees.

Cornell expanded significantly, particularly since World War II, with its student population in Ithaca growing to its current count of about 20,000 students. The faculty also expanded, and by the century's end, the university had more than 3,400 faculty members. The school also increased its breadth of course offerings. Today the university has wide-ranging programs and offers more than 4,000 courses. Cornell received national attention in April 1969 when African American students occupied Willard Straight Hall in protest over alleged racism. The crisis resulted in the resignation of President James A. Perkins and the restructuring of university governance.

Since 2000, Cornell has been expanding its international programs. In 2004, the university opened the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the first American medical school outside of the United States. It continues to forge partnerships with major institutions in India, Singapore, and the People's Republic of China. The university, with its high international profile, claims to be "the first transnational university". On March 9, 2004, Cornell and Stanford laid the cornerstone for a new Bridging the Rift Center located on the Israel–Jordan border.

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