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Cornell University Core Values

In fall of 2017, President Pollack convened a Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate, with the goal of finding ways to foster a more inclusive, equitable, and welcoming atmosphere at Cornell. At the same time, Provost Kotlikoff created the Provost’s Task Force to Enhance Faculty Diversity, with a related goal of finding ways to develop and maintain a more diverse faculty. Among the final recommendations of both entities was the creation of a university core value statement.

Over the last few months, the university’s leadership has worked with the Faculty Senate, the Student Assembly, the Employee Assembly, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, the University Assembly, and a number of other groups of students, staff, and faculty to gather their input around concepts and ideals that should be included in a core values statement.

Their feedback is reflected in a draft core values statement, below. All faculty, staff and students were encouraged to review the draft core values statement and provided feedback on the draft by Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

View feedback provided by faculty, staff and students


DRAFT – April 2019



Purposeful Discovery
We value the process of discovery, by our students as they learn and by our faculty as they teach, conduct scholarship, and search for new knowledge. The search for, and the dissemination of knowledge are tightly linked: as A.D. White noted, “The power of discovering truth and the power of imparting it are almost invariably found together.”

Free and Open Inquiry and Expression
As a community whose very purpose is the discovery of truth, we have an essential dependence on free and open inquiry and expression. We value and protect free expression, even of ideas that some may consider wrong or offensive. Inherent in this commitment to free expression is the ability to respectfully denounce speech that is hateful or biased.

A Community of Belonging
As a university founded to be a place where “…any person can find instruction…,” we value diversity and inclusion, and we strive to be a welcoming, caring, and equitable community where students, faculty, and staff from different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences can learn, innovate, and work in an environment of respect, empowered to use their voices to engage in any community conversation.

Exploration across Boundaries
The second half of Ezra Cornell’s vision was that we would be a place to “…find instruction in any study.” We value the critical importance of core liberal arts, performance arts, and professional study, and we celebrate the power of connections among them.

Changing Lives through Engagement
As the land-grant institution of New York state, with our main campus within the homelands of the Cayuga Nation, we value engagement in our community, our state, and the broader world, applying the knowledge that we and others create for the benefit of society. Learning through engagement is a foundational element of a Cornell education.

Respect for the Natural Environment
With our main campus located on one of the most beautiful campuses in the world, we recognize the close relationship between people and the Earth, and act in ways to live and to work sustainably.