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 relating to 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 folks “across the nation.” Neither suggestion could be in the most effective curiosity of Cornell or of AAUP members who’re understandably curious about sustaining the financial standing of the school.
The piece tries to check Cornell to Yale, Harvard and Princeton when it comes to voluntary funds to native jurisdictions. Nevertheless, in contrast to these colleges, Cornell’s operations usually are not all positioned inside 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 principle campus, Cornell has tax-exempt buildings in Geneva and New York Metropolis. It additionally operates Cooperative Extension places of work in each county of New York State. So, one can’t 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 scholar comparisons.
In distinction, Ithaca’s different massive 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 fee, Cornell additionally helps the Ithaca Faculty District, the TCAT bus system and varied 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 12 months.
The visitor piece makes a lot of Cornell’s $10 billion endowment. Nevertheless, 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 earnings from every of these accounts to the aim specified by every donor. For instance, it could be unlawful to spend the cash from an endowed professorship account to subsidize Ithaca’s property tax charges.
Equally, indigenous tribes throughout the nation wouldn’t 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 have been sad with dropping their land to the federal authorities and filed quite a few lawsuits in search of the return of lands or an equal worth. The tribes misplaced these lawsuits, and the visitor piece gives no logical purpose to reopen these instances.
The AAUP ought to acknowledge that Ithaca and Cornell have resolved this difficulty for the following 15 years by an settlement. Additionally, the indigenous tribes have adopted by means of on their authorized claims to an finish level. So, at this level, the AAUP, and the broader Cornell neighborhood, ought to deal with the best way to maximize Cornell’s restricted sources “to do the best good” for the tutorial enterprise and for society as an entire. Wanted sources 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