At a town hall event in Willard Straight Hall Sunday, President David Skorton dismissed concerns about Cornell’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2015, which decreased by a smaller margin than the rates the years immediately preceding it. Cornell’s acceptance rate dropped from 18.4 percent for the Class of 2014 to 18 percent for the Class of 2015. However, over the last five years the rate has decreased at a rate of approximately 1.5 percentage points a year.
“The number of applications is staggering, still the highest in the Ivy League,” Skorton said. “We’ll have to watch a trend over more than one year.”
He expressed optimism for the continued demand to come to Cornell.
“The applications continue to go up … even when it’s obvious that the huge majority of students will not get in,” Skorton said.
Skorton said that he felt positively about this prediction in terms of its implications for the University.
“Why are we out beating the bushes so hard for more applications when we’re flushing 80 percent of them or more?” he asked. “The answer is that we are always trying to find a broad range of students with varying backgrounds, with diversity across a wide variety of types.”
In the forum, Skorton also emphasized the importance of means restriction, which he defined as “anything that separates anyone with an impulse from acting on that impulse.” He said means restrictions, which have been used to justify the creation of seven bridge barriers on and and around campus, extend beyond the barriers project.
“We don’t allow firearms on campus, we take very careful care of dangerous chemicals and other environmental dangers on campus,” he said. “Having the barriers on the bridge … is yet another form of means restriction.”
Skorton also fielded questions on different issues facing Cornell, particularly the recommendations of academic task forces as part of the Reimagining Cornell initiative.
Skorton responded with uncertainty to queries about the potential creation of a school of public policy.
“The decision whether or not to have a public policy school will not be my decision,” he said. “I can’t actually tell you if we’re going to end up with a school of public policy.”
“It will be a decision made in consultation with a variety of people around campus whose skills and expertise in teaching and discovery would be relevant to public policy,” he said. “I don’t actually know what the chances are that that will happen.”
However, he acknowledged the importance of the issue.
“I’m imagining in the current atmosphere, with all the challenges that are experienced, you’ll see some more emphasis on [public policy] throughout the University,” he said.