Presidential Archives

About the Call to Engagement

As part of his inaugural address delivered in Ithaca on October 16, 2003, Cornell’s 11th president Jeffrey Lehman introduced the centerpiece of his first year in office: his “Call to Engagement” encouraging all members of the university community to consider what Cornell’s place should be upon the celebration of its sesquicentennial in the year 2015. The Call to Engagement and the eight questions associated with it asked all Cornellians to consider issues that are fundamental to our identity and invited community members to share their thoughts directly with the president.

In the days and months following the initiation of the “call” and continuing through June 2004, faculty, students, alumni, and staff associated with the Ithaca campus and the Weill Cornell Medical College — as well as the university trustees, the medical college’s Board of Overseers, and friends of the university — responded with great spirit and insight. Individuals submitted thoughtful responses, often several pages in length, via e-mail and letters to the president. Structured and unstructured discussions occurred with many constituent groups both on and off campus. The response to the call was simply tremendous (see below).

Every response received from an individual or group has been read in its original and complete form and reflected upon by President Lehman. As stated in his inaugural address, President Lehman will use the thoughts, ideas, and inspirations from the Call to Engagement “to help frame an initial set of goals for myself and for our university that will reflect the dreams and aspirations of Cornellians everywhere” by the fall of 2004.

Summary Response Statistics

Response to President’s Lehman’s Call to Engagement has been tremendous. Input has been received through e-mail, letters, and planned and unplanned discussions. President Lehman is reviewing all input received in its original form. Specific responses will not be shared broadly with the Cornell community out of respect for the personal and direct nature of the responses to President Lehman.

The following summary provides a brief overview of the responses received as of June 30, 2004. Please note that many responses include input from groups of individuals rather than just a single individual. We estimate that over 1,200 individuals responded to the call.