Re “Cornell Nonetheless Does Not Pay its Truthful Share to the Metropolis of Ithaca” (Visitor essay, Nov. 4)
To the Editor:
The visitor piece by three officers of the Cornell Chapter of the American Affiliation of College Professors (AAUP) posted on Nov. 4 concerning Cornell’s monetary obligations to the Metropolis of Ithaca is misguided.
They search elevated Cornell funding of the Metropolis of Ithaca and likewise reparations to indigenous individuals “across the nation.” Neither advice could be in the very best curiosity of Cornell or of AAUP members who’re understandably interested by sustaining the financial standing of the college.
The piece tries to match Cornell to Yale, Harvard and Princeton when it comes to voluntary funds to native jurisdictions. Nonetheless, not like these colleges, Cornell’s operations are usually not all situated throughout the Ithaca metropolis limits. The Ithaca campus additionally extends into the City of Ithaca, the Village of Cayuga Heights and the Village of Lansing. Past the primary campus, Cornell has tax-exempt buildings in Geneva and New York Metropolis. It additionally operates Cooperative Extension workplaces in each county of New York State. So, one can not examine Cornell’s voluntary funds with different colleges primarily based in only one municipality. Additional, 4 of its faculties function in buildings constructed and owned by New York State, distorting the per pupil comparisons.
In distinction, Ithaca’s different giant non-profit employers, Ithaca School and what’s now Cayuga Medical Heart, have each relocated from central Ithaca to campuses past the town limits.
Past the annual voluntary cost, Cornell additionally helps the Ithaca Faculty District, the TCAT bus system and numerous financial improvement efforts. Cornell additionally pays for its personal roads, water system and police. Cornell estimates that these municipal-type objects complete greater than $30 million per yr.
The visitor piece makes a lot of Cornell’s $10 billion endowment. Nonetheless, the endowment is a type of mutual fund that invests the property of over 8,000 donors, and Cornell has a authorized obligation to make use of the revenue from every of these accounts to the aim specified by every donor. For instance, it might be unlawful to spend the cash from an endowed professorship account to subsidize Ithaca’s property tax charges.
Equally, indigenous tribes throughout the nation should not have any declare on the cash that Cornell acquired below the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. Cornell acquired land from the federal authorities for particular functions, and Cornell used these funds correctly. Many tribes had been sad with dropping their land to the federal authorities and filed quite a few lawsuits looking for the return of lands or an equal worth. The tribes misplaced these lawsuits, and the visitor piece presents no logical purpose to reopen these circumstances.
The AAUP ought to acknowledge that Ithaca and Cornell have resolved this challenge for the following 15 years by an settlement. Additionally, the indigenous tribes have adopted by way of on their authorized claims to an finish level. So, at this level, the AAUP, and the broader Cornell group, ought to give attention to tips on how to maximize Cornell’s restricted assets “to do the best good” for the educational enterprise and for society as a complete. Wanted assets shouldn’t be diverted to subsidize Ithaca property tax payers or the tax-exempt Cayuga Nation.
People shouldn’t attempt to coerce a diversion of Cornell funds from Cornell’s instructional functions.
Robert C. Platt ’73, J.D. ’76