Online Senate Meeting June 9

NOTE THE DATE CHANGE FOR THE MEETING

Faculty comments on the agenda can be posted anonymously below. Employees are welcome to  share their thoughts here.

The Zoom URL will be emailed to Senators. Faculty should  contact their Senator if they wish to join.

The audio and chat transcript will be posted online shortly thereafter and the written transcript of the audio a little bit later still.

How Online Meetings of the Senate Work


Date and Time: Tuesday, June 9, 3:30-5:00pm

Announcements

Discussion and Q&A on Financial Issues

Provost Mike Kotlikoff

Slides

Professor Ravi Kanbur, Chair, Financial Policy Committee

FPC Overview of the Budget Shortfall and Possible Responses
Slides

Meeting Recording (audio) (chat)

Draft Meeting Minutes

Background  Reading

Endowments are Financial Pillars, Not Piggy Banks
Myths About College and University Endowments
Understanding College and University Endowments
Will Colleges Tap Large Endowments During Pandemic?
The Moral Trade-Off of Endowment Spending
Rich Colleges Can Afford to Spend More
A People-Centered Approach to the Covid Crisis
Continue to Employ Faculty and Staff
Colleges are Deluding Themselves

Powerpoint Slides

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52 thoughts on “Online Senate Meeting June 9

  1. Across the Ivy League, 40% of the students come from the upper 10% of the income distribution. What are the Cornell numbers? For comparison, what fraction of the faculty are in the upper 10% of the income distribution? Example: A 20 year faculty veteran of A&S with a spouse who is underemployed because of the limited job opportunities for non-academics in Ithaca; their income is maybe in the upper 20% of the distribution. Cornell’s financial aid package is very generous compared to many schools (compared to the college where my child goes, for example). If I am forced to take a pay cut, can you assure me that my salary isn’t going to be spent to prop up the aid packages of student from families wealthier than mine?

    1. Financial aid is not provided to students in the upper 10%, it’s barely given to students who are middle class. I am a low-income student who hopes that I can keep my financial aid so that I can continue attending this university. This post just goes to show how disconnected faculty are with students. Why would financial aid packages go to wealthy students? That doesn’t even make any sense. Anyways, I hope your salary does go to more students who end up being low-income due.

  2. A faculty member may prefer to have a salary cut in taxed take-home pay rather than untaxed retirement contribution. If a cut must occur, why not offer a choice, and provide an analysis to help people make that choice based on individual circumstances?

  3. It is dispiriting, though it should perhaps not be surprising, given how corporations act these days, to see that Cornell proposes to balance the budget on the backs of workers: its faculty and staff. The ‘real’ core values of the institution emerge in these proposals in ways that are truly discomfiting. What I would say to my friends and fellow workers is that I hope that our first response to this proposal will not be to start arguing with each other about which workers should suffer which cuts, who should give more/less, and which groups are most disadvantaged to start with. I am not opposed to progressive taxation, and we may get to those discussions at some point. But to start there is to lose the thread. Turning against each other and fighting over the crumbs to ensure that our personal situations are preserved to the greatest extent possible is to concede an argument about the value of workers – the lifeblood of the institution – which is stark and stunning and demands a strong and united response.

  4. — The senior leadership pay cut should be mandatory, not voluntary, and $1M is purely symbolic. I assume they will pause their retirement contributions, too?

    — Protecting the net financial asset position (ie, not borrowing or touching endowment) puts all of us in service of the financial position, instead of the other way around, as it should be. This is not a corporation.

    — There needs to be accountability for senior financial management if they are running this operation on such a thin margin that they have nothing in place to cover a $100-200M budget shortfall. It is unclear from the website of the Office of University Investments how much Cornell is paying in management fees on the endowment; something like $200M wouldn’t surprise me. We should know that number in the spirit of transparency, especially when a quick glance at returns over the last 5-10 years reveals that the endowment underperformed the market average, as indeed all actively managed funds do.

    — We should borrow to cover the shortfall. Interest rates are very low, and the University can withstand a lowered credit rating: these are extreme circumstances. I agree that with the Financial Policies Committee that “the University should clarify the basis on which no borrowing is contemplated” (4).

    — If absolutely necessary, we should be reducing retirement contributions, not eliminating them, and they should come in the form of no-interest loans from employees to the University.

    — I agree with the Financial Policies Committee: we need closer Fac/Staff engagement with shared governance on financial matters.

  5. The proposal to use faculty and staff compensation as the primary tool to close the budget deficit sadly speaks volumes to the administration’s commitment to the very people who are the source of Cornell’s excellence as well as to the broader Ithaca/Tompkins County community that heavily depends on the jobs and incomes of staff and faculty. Students don’t come to Cornell for the endowment, the facilities, or the administration. They come for a great education from world-class faculty and caring staff in a vibrant upstate community. Failure to protect the university’s most valuable assets will cause lasting damage far beyond the cost of interest payments, foregone endowment earnings, or the future gifts of dozens of middle class students’ families.

    Financing is available to close parts of the gap. That’s what financial markets do: they smooth fluctuations through borrowing, lending and insurance. Interest rates are at historic lows so borrowing is unprecedentedly cheap. Broader stock market indices (NASDAQ, S&P, etc.) have recovered from the March crash and are near record highs. The endowment’s 9.4% average return over the past 3 fiscal years (https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2019/10/cornells-investments-grew-53-fy2019), coupled with expected gains this year, given broader market patterns, increase the university’s discretionary resources. So borrowing is cheap and the endowment growth puts the university’s wealth at or near historic highs. Hand-wringing about compromising the future just doesn’t square with the data.

    The University can and should remain fully committed to needs-blind admission for students and their families who truly suffer financially. But that is easily reconciled with raising the financial aid eligibility threshold, and converting grants to loans at a lower need threshold (and using those future repayments to secure current borrowing). Other good ideas have already been proposed in this discussion forum. We simply can’t afford to be as generous to middle class students as our Ivy peers with per student endowments an order of magnitude larger than ours.

    Some faculty and staff compensation cuts may be needed, even appropriate. Now is also the moment to more aggressively address the compensation of ‘dead wood’ tenured faculty. Performance-and-equity-blind cuts will drive away many star faculty and staff, and impose unnecessary pain on the lowest-paid staff and junior (and RTE) faculty. The Provost and Deans need to focus cuts on those tenured faculty who underperform in research, teaching and service. Regrettably, there are plenty such folks on campus.

    Bold moves need to focus on the university’s core strengths and preserve its core values, not least of which excellence, inclusion and service to the broader community.

    1. Talk about dispiriting. let’s protect “a great education from world-class faculty and caring staff” and let’s cut the dead-wood unproductive tenured faculty. Only if we find a way to measure emotional productivity….

  6. 1. This is a technical issue, but it is clear that people who get paid from grants can not get a benefit or salary cut. The benefits are paid from grants (with an already inflated benefits+overhead rate), so under no circumstances can the administration consider not contributing to the retirement of those people (unless they lower the overhead rates and we can then use that money to pay them their retirement funds). Those benefits are already paid for by the grants, Cornell can’t just take it. Given that these people will have to be excluded from the benefit cuts it is highly doubtful that a benefit cut can be implemented without running into issues of having to prove that the benefit policy of the university is equitable (as someone explained on the site where they were proposing the plans). So in the end it has to be salary cuts – and it is anyways better to call it what it is rather than disguise it as a cut in benefits.

    2. It is extremely shortsighted for the university to treat its main resource (the faculty and staff) with the lowest priority in this crisis. Students aid can not be touched, the endowment can not be touched, we cannot get a loan but we can give the faculty and staff a salary cut. This will in the few year’s time frame lead to a large number of (the most talented and most sought-after) faculty to consider leaving. The salaries are already the lowest among our peers, and this cavalier treatment will lead to a serious loss of loyalty from the faculty, which is the greatest resource of the University.

    3. It is very disheartening that the university would get to cutting faculty/staff salaries before considering a loan or tapping the endowment. Can they explain why in 2008 it was OK to get a $500 million loan but it is not OK in 2020 to get a $200 million loan or an increased payout from the endowment? Why would that be different from the stock market going down by 5% (in which case they would not contemplate cuts to salaries/benefits – at least I hope so)? It is especially hard to explain this unwillingness since in 2020 we know this is a relatively short term issue and things will get back to more normal by 2021 (while in 2008 it was a structural problem within the university compounded by the financial crisis which had much longer horizons).

    4. By not giving the faculty any incentive in case (partial) in person education is to resume how can the administration expect for the faculty to take the risk of lecturing in person? The motivation will be to save $200 million for the endowment while their benefits are being cut?

  7. Having just read Paul Campos’s June 6 NYT op piece about college endowments, and being new to Cornell, I would like to hear the recent history of our endowment’s growth and an explanation of why we think treating as a savings account rather than a spending account is reasonable in this crisis. and I would add that this system rejected my first post on this topic saying it looked like I already posted this, when I had not, which is a bit odd.

  8. As a senior faculty member new to Cornell, and having just read this NYT op piece by Paul Campos on endowments, I would appreciate hearing a bit of history on how Cornell’s endowment has grown in recent years and why there is an apparent reluctance to spend it, instead turning first and primarily to faculty and staff salaries.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/06/opinion/sunday/colleges-endowments-covid.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

  9. 1.
    *Of course* the burden should be spread out across generations, and that means that an important line of defense is to tap into the endowment or borrow; I defer to others on the right engineering detail. I say this as an economist who knows a bit about consumption smoothing. Aside, I respectfully disagree with some of the material posted regarding endowment myths.

    2.
    Cornell should be mindful that its academic salary distribution is already very compressed, impeding competitiveness at the top end. (And yes, that is already an issue when recruiting.) I think the salary freeze was a mistake because it permanently increases compression. We should do/have done SIP as usual and then impose a strictly temporary x% haircut.
    To be clear, I’m all for being progressive in the sense of protecting truly low-earning staff at my expense. However, I am wary of further dilution of incentives to faculty.

    3.
    That said, we faculty cannot have our cake and eat it. Anybody who rails against severe salary cuts must also be willing to teach in person, assuming reasonable precautions and with the proviso that we show solidarity toward truly at-risk individuals.

    1. on point 2, no reason why SIPs can’t be reapplied to offset any across the board cuts. As the poster points out, the cost of giving 0% SIPs is that we are disproportionately punishing (often young) faculty in their most productive years that would have received merit based awards. I can see this may have been necessary to avoid the optics of actual cuts, but as long as we are cutting, might as well do it correctly.

  10. I deeply appreciate the efforts of our administration to keep Cornell afloat financially. This is very very difficult. I have tried to indicate in the Senate in response to Provost Michael Kotlikoff’s initial announcement that Cornell is facing a CV-19 induced financial crisis that donations are welcome from faculty and that the Day Hall top administration is taking voluntary pay cuts that I feel that 1) tenured faculty should have forced cuts and 2) there should be a neutral party that provides transparency as to how Cornell is managing its finances. (e.g. what needs to be done with the endowment). I suggested that the Ombudsman’s office might accomplish 2). I feel that 1) and 2) should go together. I feel that we haven’t learned the lessons of 2008.Above all, I am very deeply concerned about our nonfaculty staffs’ employment. Every indication I have is that DoF Charlie Van Loan agrees with this last point. I appreciate that he sits on the finance committee. Carl Franck, Associate Professor, Faculty Senator, Physics

  11. Looking at the example financial aid packages that Cornell has publicized (https://finaid.cornell.edu/types-aid/in-state-family), I’m pleased that Cornell seems to make affordability a serious priority. The “Family 3” in-state family example lists a Cornell grant of $53,873 for a family with a household income of $145,500. However, I question the fairness of fully preserving this level of benefit by significant salary reductions to a staff member making $53,873 or a faculty member part of a household with a $145,500 income.

    As part of these discussions, Cornell should give a more detailed accounting of the projected $145 million increase in financial aid beyond simply connecting it to the increased unemployment rate. Something like a table indicating roughly how many students are going to need approximately $10k/20k/30k/40k/50k+ in increased aid could be helpful for understanding the situation.

  12. 1-What is the average annual income of the households of the students that will require all of this extra financial aid?
    a- Is it less than the household income of the staff and lecturer salaries that you will cut or furlough? Very doubtful.
    b- It is likely to be in the same ballpark of humanities Assistant and Associate prof salaries, who mostly cannot afford to send their own kids to Cornell.
    The cavalier way that the administration is proposing to cut faculty and staff salary is tone death and exploitative.

  13. Has anybody given any thought to the incentives created by the cost cutting proposals? We were recently asked to fill out a survey asking whether we would be willing to teach on campus in the fall. Now we see that the severity of budget shortfall depends on the nature of reopening. If we have a full online fall, the shortfall is most severe and the university would have to borrow money and also spend from endowment. But even if we have a full reopening and the shortfall is minimized, faculty and staff will still take the same losses. So what incentive do faculty have to teach on campus in the fall? Why would any of us take any risk of catching COVID if we are going to take the same losses anyway? Surely there will be some faculty who will teach on campus no matter what and others who will refuse no matter what. But the majority are probably in the middle and the current cost cutting proposals tell us to stay home and take zero risk because we take the same pay cut either way.

  14. To our dearest university leaders:
    The set of plans laid out in the FPC document show how clever you are. Or rather, how sneaky. Please tell me where I’m wrong – You would like to make a grand gesture that Cornell will make sure that no matter a student’s change in financial circumstances they will be able to study here with no additional burden. Cornell and its valiant leadership team will take on the burden for them. I can just see the Cornell Chronicle article now – the president and provost beaming and proudly posed with hands on hips as the heroes who led the university through the crisis and protected its student body. Wow! But wait, how will you, our fearless leaders, have paid for this grand gesture? Ah, the ugly truth – primarily on the backs of faculty and staff. Will faculty and staff get credit in the inevitable Ezra Magazine article detailing for alumni how the university stepped up in current students’ time of need? Oh I highly doubt it. I bet university leaders will take the lion’s share of credit and we faculty and staff will be left holding the bag. As an added bonus our fearless leaders will look extra special in front of the board of trustees since they won’t have added much debt and may even have entirely avoided taking money out of the precious endowment. I am sure the trustees will think you deserve big raises for your amazing work. If only we were all as clever as you guys. No wonder you made it all the way to Day Hall. Kudos!

    As others have already said this does not look like shared responsibility or equitable sacrifice. You are using the faculty and staff as the first line of defense. We are the only ones to sacrifice in the best case scenario. The problem for you is that we are not dumb and the bigger problem is that the best of us will have options elsewhere when this is all over. Consider drawing from all funding sources equally so that you can maintain some credibility with us going forward.

  15. Under these proposals, would staff and faculty whose salaries are 100 % covered by external grants still be subject to potential cuts? What about faculty recruited for named professorships supported by restricted endowments? Thank you.

  16. While I think that all faculty and staff are ready to do their part, there needs to be a thorough and clear explanation about why faculty and staff salary have been designated as the main sacrificial offering/the first line of defense in every scenario. This does not look like a “shared” responsibility: equitable “sacrifice” would mean similar and simultaneous cuts in undergraduate financial aid, in graduate financial aid, in endowments. Why is the faculty –the people and their research– and staff –their labor and service– not a Cornell core value? Any person, any study requires faculty and staff to provide that opportunity. On top of that, it would have to be a very transparent decision on how to make these cuts: if you’re a law or a medical school or a business professor making 250K (or one of the lucky few in the humanities), if they cut your salary 25k you’re still making 1% salary. If you make 100K and they cut it by 25K you will not be able to pay for your kid’s college next year.

    1. Yes, equal percentage cuts make most sense. If you’re making 250K, then a 25K cut would be 10%. The same 10% cut would be just 10K for the professor making 100K. This would be fair for everybody and protect lower earners.

  17. Will the salary cut be accumulative in later years? My understanding is that the average faculty salary at Cornell is already on the low side among ivy league peers, even lower than some flagship state schools. This action will further widen the gap. This does not boost the moral.

  18. While the “core value” of meeting student financial need is of merit, I take issue with the notion of increase aid outlays at the expense of employees and faculty…the very people who enable the student education and research that is critical to Cornell’s mission.

    Let me propose an alternative that is not one of the options listed. Instead of increasing financial aid in the form of decreased or eliminated tuition/room/board charges to students who need it, make it a conditional loan that “guarantees” their Cornell education. If a student graduates but does not get a decent-paying job (even after a postgraduate education, in some cases), then the loan is forgiven. But if they obtain a good paying job, then the loan is repaid, or a fraction of the graduate’s salary is returned to Cornell.

    Purdue has such a program, which they call an an Income Share Agreement (ISA). Details can be found at https://www.purdue.edu/backaboiler/FAQ/index.html.

    Such a program could be funded up front either by borrowing money now, or drawing down some of the endowment. The money Cornell borrows (or the amount withdrawn from the endowment) would be repaid over the coming several years as our outstanding graduate move out into the world and enter lucrative careers. And why wouldn’t they be successful? We are supposed to be offering the best training to the best people in the world. It seems to me that graduates would be happy to thank Cornell by at least partially reimbursing it in exchange for a successful career.

    By adding such an alternative, then the “pain” can be borne not only by people who have toiled loyally for Cornell for many years, but also by students who will have Cornell to thank for their hopefully long productive careers…careers that we “Guarantee.”

  19. The largest single element causing the budget shortfall is undergraduate financial aid. The largest single proposed source of revenues to make up the shortfall is the tax on faculty salaries. Ergo, the faculty would be subsidizing undergraduate financial aid. The FPC report takes pains not to state this explicitly but it’s obvious.

    Many, indeed most, faculty might not have a problem with this, but at a minimum the faculty is due a comprehensive explanation. The administration and the FPC cannot dismissively state that protecting financial aid is a “core value” and untouchable without a much more compelling and convincing argument. We are due at least this much if we are bearing the cost.

    In fact, “financial aid” is not black and white; it is a complicated matter with many nuances, levels and alternatives. Some have been mentioned in other posts here. The university struggled with financial aid in the late 2000’s during and after the recession, and it will be struggling again this time. Perhaps Cornell simply cannot afford HYP-type financial generosity and we should rethink it? At least we need an explanation.

    1. Cornell obviously cannot afford HYP-type financial generosity. On a per-student basis, here is how we stack up in terms of endowment (source is http://www.reachhighscholars.org/college_endowments.html):
      Princeton: $3,145,372
      Yale: $2,267,714
      Harvard: $1,607,596

      Cornell: $294,923

      University leaders obviously understand this, so they instead propose faculty and staff wages as the source of funding for HYP-type financial generosity. Unbelievable. I am strongly opposed and agree that it is time to rethink the nuances of financial aid. Others have proposed good alternatives.

  20. Have the Provost and FPC given any thought to cost savings gained by rethinking the bloated structure that is the College of Business? I can’t think of a better time than now to revisit the dubious decision to mash Dyson, Hotel, and Johnson into an ill-fitting and dysfunctional entity as opposed to creating a loose confederacy with independent decision making and budgetary control returned to the school deans, while retaining the “College” brand for marketing purposes.

  21. It’s very hard to take seriously any proposal that excludes an immediate increase in the endowment spending rule. First, the notion that endowment spending can’t be changed is patently false. Legal restrictions on endowment spending certainly exist. Donors may earmark gifts for specific purposes. But these statements don’t imply that those constraints would bind against some level of emergency drawdown. A reasonable question to ask would be, given legally binding account restrictions (not self-imposed restrictions) what increases in spending are possible? For example, could we practically achieve a one time, 1% increase in spending without violating donor restrictions? If not, it should be easy for the administration to concretely and specifically explain why not. If so, then we should evaluate that option on its merits and not pretend that our hands are tied.

    Meanwhile, pedantic arguments about the philosophical need to protect the endowment for future generations miss the mark. The guide star of endowment management should be intergenerational equity; past, current, and future stakeholders should benefit equally from the endowment’s largess.
    Yes, this means we don’t overspend in good times. But this cuts both ways. Intergenerational equity also requires the endowment to protect against one time cuts that would disproportionately disfavor current students, faculty and staff. An endowment that doesn’t do this isn’t an endowment.

    1. If the endowment can be used in the third scenario, then I don’t see why it can’t be used in all three scenarios. And if not, then the reasons why need to be clearly explained by the administration. We are not children to be tricked. We need to be convinced with logic and transparency.

      Also, why are faculty and staff salaries the first line of defense, with borrowing and endowment sources protected in all but the worst cases? Why not have the burden on salaries, borrowing, and endowment increase together as the deficits escalate? Otherwise, how can we take the administration seriously when they say they want equitable distribution of sacrifice across the university?

  22. I think that the members of the FPC and especially the university administration need to rethink their stance on implementing progressive salary/retirement cuts. This statement in particular struck me as dangerously naive:
    “On Salary/Retirement, the FPC concurs with the administration that cuts to salary and retirement contributions in FY21 should be scaled progressively, protecting those with the lowest incomes.”

    The administration needs to consider whether such a policy is truly progressive or is instead punitive/discriminatory. Making salary cuts on the basis of individuals’ Cornell income is problematic for a number of reasons, including the following:

    i) Many underrepresented minority faculty members chose high-paying fields of study at least in part because of the compensation. These individuals (myself included) grew up in single parent homes, in crime-riddled neighborhoods, and are the first in their family to “make it.” Such individuals lack the familial wealth that even those who grew up in simply middle class two-parent households enjoy (many in the university administration may not realize that just having self-sufficient retiree parents is a big deal, let alone parents who will leave an inheritance). Moreover, in many cases, these URM faculty members feel an obligation to give back and help their single parent and sometimes even siblings. Subjecting such individuals to higher percentage salary cuts simply because they have higher income is far too simple an approach, in that it favors faculty members who grew up with the means and familial support that allowed them to entertain the pursuit of lower paying disciplines. Instead of protecting those with the lowest incomes, how about we protect those who have finally, against all odds, started earning a decent living but don’t yet have much wealth? Given President Pollack’s recent emails about racism and the goal of equality of opportunity in our country, my hope is that the administration will think a bit more deeply about how so-called progressive policies affect those of us who have worked extra hard to overcome long odds, only to now be forced to subsidize individuals who were born with far more privilege and opportunities (what they did with that privilege and opportunity is their choice).

    ii) Some faculty members have working spouses while others do not. Federal and state tax rates are progressive on the basis of couples’ total household income. How can Cornell penalize a high earner who is the sole source of household income? For example, if a biology professor ordinarily earning $100K faces a hypothetical 8% salary cut, but has a spouse earning $80K outside Cornell, then why should a breadwinning law professor ordinarily earning $180K have her income cut by a higher percentage? These households normally have the same total income, but now the Cornell breadwinner will be worse off. How is such a policy progressive and fair to her?

    iii) Some households have two individuals working at the university. Should their incomes be pooled to determine what level of cuts they face? Or will their individual incomes determine each of their cuts? If it is the latter, why should a breadwinner with the same household income as the two Cornell spouses face a higher percentage salary cut?

    While the desire to protect those with the lowest incomes is noble, why is this simply not implemented as a policy at hiring time? Why are certain individuals and groups in the university paid so much more than others? Why not just offer the lowest paid more and offer the highest paid less at the time of hire? The obvious answer is that the quality of faculty in the highest paying disciplines would suffer, since the best candidates would generally choose competing offers instead. The differences exist and persist for a reason.

    Implementing a progressive taxation system that accounts for the situations outlined above is so complicated that it’s best left to the state and federal taxing authorities. The university administration should instead follow the example of peer schools like Duke and Northwestern in adopting a uniform percentage cut to faculty salaries/retirement contributions. Anything else would necessarily be unfair to some groups and would therefore be discriminatory.

    1. The goal is to minimize financial distress and those with lower income might be more at risk. But it’s true that progressive cuts based on income alone will get it wrong in many cases. Since the university can’t ask everybody for their household budgets to figure out who can afford bigger cuts, a flat percentage cut for all income levels seems like the right call.

  23. Hello,

    I also want to express my appreciation for the work of the administration and various committees. Assuming salaries and retirement benefits are cut at least to some extent, I write to ask whether the university would consider committing to provide a one-time supplement when and if the financial picture improves. Given the monetary stimulus provided by the Fed, I anticipate the endowment and our other finances will more than recover once a vaccine has been developed. In that event, wouldn’t it be appropriate for the university to declare its intention now to make people whole again when the time is right? At the very least, can’t this be done for staff and junior faculty, many of whom can ill afford the cuts under consideration.

    Best,

    Joe Margulies (not a junior by any means)
    Law and Government

    1. Excellent and creative suggestion. Allow the faculty and staff to finance the shortfalls instead of just having to absorb them. This would boost morale, protect the endowment, and be cheaper than borrowing through banks.

  24. Undergraduate financial aid awards include various combinations of grant aid and loans. See, for example, changes made in 2018: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2017/05/financial-aid-policy-change-will-benefit-more-undergraduates
    The lower the maximum-loan-limits are in Cornell’s choice of award structure, the more Cornell will have to offer in grant aid. The more grant aid offered, the higher the total spend on undergraduate financial aid. Might the university commit to continuing “meeting full need” but reconsidering “how” that need is met?

  25. I appreciate the hard work of the EPC.

    Nonetheless I’m a bit concerned at the practically “theological” approach taken in deciding that financial aid is irrelevant to the problem, or at least to its solution. There are all kinds of core values, there are multiple constituencies, and there are compromises of many kinds inherent in budgeting–so, for example, despite our slogan “any person etc”, international financial aid is already capped. So the core value turns out to have footnotes on it already.

    As a result–you’ve started the discussion by constraining its possible solution, all the while proudly announcing about how it’s necessary to have an “equitable distribution of sacrifice across the University”. And in the next slide announce that that requires that the sacrifice be distributed so that financial aid is untouched, in fact expanded massively. That seems to be, well, either magical or religious thinking; it may be an admirable sentiment but…Cornell is not Harvard or Yale or Princeton, any solution which starts from the assumption that we assume the ability to compete with them is guaranteed to leave this university at a disadvantage. No matter how well it plays in the PR releases.

    Can the reason why this core value is the only essential core value be explained? Does no one see it as dangerous group-think to start from this position?

    1. I agree 100%. Cornell is trying to act like a benevolent rich school that has the resources to ensure that nobody will be left behind. But the reality is that Cornell is unwilling to either borrow money or tap its endowment in order to meet this need. Instead, the leadership is passing almost all of the cost onto faculty and staff. How benevolent indeed!

    2. I see Cornell’s future as a core value to be protected. So much of the world’s problems right now stem from sacrificing the future for the present. The endowments are there to help students and faculty every single year of this institution’s future and I agree with not putting them on the table to rectify a short-term crisis unless absolutely necessary. I realize that it may mean more short-term job losses, but if our predecessors had made similar decisions then our campus would have so many fewer faculty and staff and I don’t wish that on our successors.

      1. The sacrifice should be shared. Current faculty and staff should not be expected to bear the entire cost on behalf of future stakeholders. Future stakeholders (including many of us who will be here for a long time to come, especially successful junior faculty) can also share in the costs so that the damage today is not so catastrophic.

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