Cornell University, an institution of learning situated at Ithaca, N. Y., named from its founder, Ezra Cornell. The university grounds embrace more than 200 acres lying on an upland E. of Ithaca, nearly 400 ft. above Cayuga lake. The site overlooks the town and the valley beyond, and affords an uninterrupted view of the lake with its lofty banks for a distance of 20 miles. The university buildings are situated on East hill, outside the limits of the town and half a mile north of the town hall. Three of them, the McGraw building and the South and North universities on either side, as represented in the accompanying illustration, stand in a row on the edge of the hill and parallel with the line of the lake and the valley. A little further north and at right angles to the main line is the Sibley building, 80 by 40 ft.; while the laboratory, a temporary wooden structure, stands in the centre of the enclosure and opposite the McGraw building. Except the laboratory, these buildings are of dark blue stone with light gray limestone trimmings. The McGraw building, the gift of John McGraw of Ithaca, consists of a main edifice and two wings, and is 200 by 60 ft., with a tower 120 ft. high containing the great bell of the university and a set of chimes.
From this tower is obtained a view of the entire surface of Cayuga lake, 40 m. in length, and of the long deep valley extending many miles S. of the lake. The view includes several counties and the courses of many streams. This edifice contains the library and the various museums of the university and numerous lecture rooms. The South and North universities are architecturally alike, each 165 by 50 ft. and four stories high. They are devoted to cabinets, lecture, library, and reading rooms, and dormitories for students. The Sibley building, erected through the liberality of Hiram Sibley of Rochester, N. Y., is occupied by the department of the mechanic arts, and contains the engine room, printing presses, machine shop, and draughting rooms. Standing apart from the above mentioned group of university buildings, and nearest of all to Ithaca, which it overlooks on its E. side at an elevation of 300 ft., is Cascadilla place, a handsome structure of dark blue stone with white stone trimmings, five stories high and 195 ft. long by 100 wide. It derives its name from its situation on Cascadilla creek, which is remarkable for its many picturesque cascades. It contains apartments for professors and students, a large reception room, and various university offices.
Attached to the university farm are a farm house, barns, and other outbuildings. In addition to these buildings the construction of a handsome dormitory for female students has been begun through the munificence of Henry W. Sage of Brooklyn, N. Y. A chapel, the gift of the same person, is now erecting at a cost of $30,000; and the present president has built at an expense of $40,000 a president's house, which he has deeded to the university. - Cornell university is under its charter an organic part of the educational system of the state, and is visited by the regents of the university of New York. Having accepted the proceeds of the land granted by congress for the encouragement of agricultural and the mechanic arts, it is bound by the conditions of the act of incorporation, "without excluding other scientific studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts." It is also bound to educate free of all fees for instruction one student from each of the 128 assembly districts of the state. This has been construed to mean an appointment for four years; so that each district may appoint one student each year, and thus have four students in the university.
These students are to be selected by yearly competitive examinations from the various public schools and academies maintained by the people of New York. The number of trustees is 24, including the founder, who has been made a trustee for life, 8 ex officio trustees, and 15 others who are elected for a term of five years, three retiring each year. The ex officio trustees are the eldest male lineal descendant of the founder, the president of the university, the governor and lieutenant governor of the state, the speaker of the assembly, the state superintendent of public instruction, the president of the state agricultural society, and the librarian of the Cornell library in Ithaca. The graduates of the university are entitled to fill the place each year of one of the retiring trustees, while the other two are elected by those trustees whose term of office has not expired. The trustees meet regularly twice a year; but the more immediate superintendence of the university is confided to an executive committee.
The special features of Cornell university which distinguish it from many other institutions of learning are: 1, non-resident professors; 2, a wide liberty in the choice of studies; 3, the prominence given to studies which shall be practically useful; 4, the absence of a daily marking system; 5, the unsectarian character of the institution. Simple religious services are held daily in the university chapel, but attendance is not compulsory. The faculty is divided into resident and nonresident professors. There are 32 of the former, who have control of all measures of academic government and the various courses of study; the latter are chosen from among scholars of acknowledged eminence in particular departments of learning, and are now (1874) seven in number, each of whom delivers a series of lectures each year. Besides these, there are several special instructors. The plan of instruction embraces three general courses: in arts, in literature, and in science. There are features common to all, but the leading characteristic of each course is implied in its name.
In the first named or classical course, which corresponds to the usual academic course in colleges, prominence is given to the ancient languages; the course in literature is intended for those who wish to devote special attention to history, political and social science, and modern literature, especially English; while in the last named course scientific studies predominate, though modern languages, history, literature, and kindred subjects are incorporated. Each of these courses covers four years, at the completion of which the degree of bachelor of arts, of literature, and of science is conferred; a student may, however, enter at any part of the course for which he is prepared. For the accommodation of those who do not wish to pursue a regular course, elective and special courses are provided. A student may select from the studies pursued at the university any three for which he is qualified, or, if an indigent student, he may continue with but two studies; while any one maybe registered as a "special student" in any single branch on condition that he devote as much time to that one study as is required to be given to three.
In addition to the provision for general instruction, the plan of the university embraces the following faculties, each distinct for its own purposes of special instruction, but all united for their general development: 1, agriculture; 2, architecture; 3, chemistry and physics; 4, civil engineering; 5, history and political science; 6, ancient and Asiatic languages; 7, north European languages; 8, south European languages; 9, mathematics; 10, mechanic arts; 11, military science and tactics; 12, natural history, 13, philosophy and letters. The departments of agriculture and the mechanic arts were established to carry into effect the provisions of the act of congress granting land for that purpose. The college of agriculture comprises professorships of agricultural chemistry, agricultural geology, horticulture, zoology, and veterinary science. The agricultural museum contains models of agricultural implements, of plants, and of farm animals; and there are ample laboratory rooms for the analysis of soils and rocks, the investigation of plants, their characters and diseases, and the dissection of domestic animals. The farm, of nearly 300 acres, affords opportunity for the practical application and illustration of the principles taught.
In the Sibley college of the mechanic arts are professorships of industrial mechanics, civil engineering, mathematics, and practical mechanics. The mechanical museum contains many models illustrating mechanical movements, models of various classes of motors, and of engineering constructions, while in the machine shops is a large amount of machinery. There are facilities for field work in engineering and surveying, and for mechanical draughting; and printing in its various forms may be learned by means of the university press. No general degree will be conferred upon any candidate unless he shall have attended a course of at least 12 lectures on general agriculture; and every student, unless specially exempted, is required to take part in the military drill. In addition to the provision for general military instruction, advanced" instruction in military science is provided, embracing the study of military engineering, the art of war, and military law. Attendance on this course is optional. A gift from Dean Sage of Albany of $30,000 has been lately received, the income of which is to be devoted to lectures on general theology by divines of different denominations.
The academical year comprises about 36 weeks of term time, beginning about the middle of September and ending in the latter part of June, and is divided into the fall, winter, and spring trimesters. To be entitled to admission, applicants are required to be not less than 16 years of age and to pass a satisfactory examination. During the first two years in all the courses instruction is partly by recitations, but by lectures whenever the subject admits of that mode of teaching. With advanced students the system of teaching by lectures and frequent examinations is adopted as far as practicable. Examinations, oral and written, are held at the end of each term. Each student is required to devote at least three hours a day to lectures and recitations. In 1873-'4 there were 461 students: 119 in the course in science, 84 in engineering, 32 in mechanic arts, 30 in literature, 25 in classics, 21 in architecture, 7 in agriculture, 7 in chemistry, 6 in natural history, 120 in elective studies, and 10 resident graduates. Of these 135 were state students, educated free of charge.
The total number of degrees conferred was 100: bachelors of science, 45; of literature, 3; of philosophy, 6; of arts, 17; of agriculture, 2; of architecture, 1; of engineering, 18; of mechanic arts, 3; master of arts, civil engineer, and doctor of philosophy, 1 each; and 2 licentiate certificates. No honorary degrees have ever been conferred by the institution. The charge for tuition is $15 per term, or $45 per annum. Some of the students support themselves while pursuing their studies by laboring on the farm, in the machine shops, or in the printing establishment, for which they receive from the university the usual rate of wages. The university press affords maintenance to more than 20 students. Skilled labor, however, is mostly in demand. The prizes offered for excellence in studies, etc, range from $10 to $100, and amount to more than $1,000 a year. Besides the degrees above mentioned, those of master of science and of arts and doctor of philosophy are conferred. - Although of recent origin, Cornell university is rich in collections and apparatus for study, which are accessible to all undergraduates.
The university library, which is rapidly increasing in size, contains more than 37,000 volumes, including about 5,000 purchased in Europe in 1868, and embracing the more recent and valuable works on agriculture, the mechanic arts, chemistry, engineering, the natural sciences, physiology, and veterinary surgery; about 4,000 in history, English, French, German, and Italian literature, forming a portion of the president's library, but deposited for the use of the faculty and undergraduates; nearly 7,000, chiefly in the ancient languages and literatures, collected by the late Charles Anthon; the library of Franz Bopp of the university of Berlin, about 2,500 volumes, relating almost wholly to oriental languages and literatures and general philology; the library presented by Prof. Goldwin Smith, comprising 3,500 works, chiefly historical; the publications of the patent office of Great Britain, numbering about 2,500 volumes; the White architectural library, a collection of over 1,000 volumes relating to architecture; the Kelly mathematical library, comprising 1,800 volumes and 700 tracts, presented by William Kelly of Rhinebeck; the Cornell agricultural library; and the library of the late Jared Sparks, purchased in 1872, and comprising upward of 5,000 volumes and 4,000 pamphlets relating chiefly to the history of America. Connected with the library is a reading room, where are found the leading American, English, French, and German periodicals, especially those relating to agriculture and the mechanic arts.
The museum of geology and mineralogy, besides other important collections, contains duplicates of the state cabinet in Albany, the collection made by Prof. Hartt as geologist of the Agassiz expedition to Brazil, the miner-alogical collection of Prof. Benjamin Silliman, jr., and the Ward collection of casts, comprising rare and important specimens in palaeontology. In the museum of botany and agriculture are extensive and valuable collections of models, photographs, cereals, tools, implements, etc, illustrating the materials, processes, and products of agriculture and horticulture, and the various operations in veterinary surgery. The museum of zoology and physiology contains extensive anatomical and zoological specimens, valuable ornithological and conchological cabinets, and a collection of skeletons from the Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Fril-ford, England, with a variety of ethnological relics from the same tombs. There is also a museum of technology, comprising photographs and working models in brass, iron, and wood, illustrative of mechanical principles applied to machinery.
There are also collections in chemistry and physics, and in the fine arts. - The endowment of the university consists of three distinct funds: 1, the fund of $500,000 given by Ezra Cornell, which is under the control of the trustees and produces ah annual income of $35,000; 2, the college land scrip fund, consisting of the proceeds arising from sales of the lands granted by congress, which is in the custody of the state, and amounted on Sept. 30, 1872, to $473,402, producing an income of $30,512; 3, the Cornell endowment fund, which consists of the profits arising from the purchase by Ezra Cornell of the college land scrip, and the sale and location of the same, and from the sale of the lands. This fund is also in the custody of the state, and amounted on Sept. 30, 1872, to $128,596, with an income of $10,821. The whole endowment, therefore, at that date amounted to $1,101,999, and produced an income of $76,333. In 1873 this income, through additional sales of land, had increased to about $140,000, while the land remaining unsold amounted to about 420,000 acres, of which the proceeds are to be added to the college land scrip fund and the Cornell endowment fund.
Besides these funds, the university holds property valued at $554,770, consisting of the university farm and farm buildings, valued at $55,000; university buildings, $323,770; library, $68,487; illustrated collections, $58,175; apparatus and models, $16,978; and furniture, tools, machinery, presses, etc, $32,360. - The establishment of Cornell university was effected through the bounty of the United States government and Ezra Cornell of Ithaca. In 1862 congress passed an act granting public lands to the several states and territories which might provide colleges for the promotion of agriculture and the mechanic arts. Under this act the state of New York received land scrip representing 989,000 acres of land, which was subsequently selected in the west. This amount was first appropriated conditionally by the legislature to another institution, but the stipulations of the contract not having been fulfilled, the entire proceeds of the land grant were transferred in 1865 to the Cornell university upon its compliance with certain conditions, of which the most important were that Ezra Cornell should give to the institution $500,000, and that provision should be made for the education, free of charge for tuition, of one student from each assembly district of the state.
This requirement was fulfilled by Mr. Cornell, who subsequently gave upward of 200 acres of land with buildings as a site for the university and as a farm for the college of agriculture, besides the Jewett college in geology and palaeontology, which had cost him $10,000. He has also made other donations amounting to upward of $100,000. The charter was granted by the legislature of New York in 1865, and bestows upon the university the income of the sale of the public lands granted to the state by congress for educational purposes; provides for the election of trustees and the reception of state students; and establishes the principles upon which the general organization of the institution is based. In commemoration of the act of incorporation the university keeps the anniversary of its signature by the governor, April 27, as a holiday under the title of "charter day." In accordance with the requirements of its charter, the institution was opened Oct. 7, 1868, with Andrew D. White (to whose efforts as a state senator the procurement of the charter is largely due) as president, who still (1874) retains the office. The total number of instructors the first year was 26, including 15 resident, 8 nonresident, and 3 assistant professors.
Among the non-resident professors were Louis Agassiz, .Goldwin Smith, James Russell Lowell, George William Curtis, and Bayard Taylor. About 350 students were admitted in 1868. At the end of the academical year 1868-'9, 9 students were graduated; in 1869-'70, 24; in 1870-'71, 40; in 1871-'2, 68; in 1872-'3, 95. Gifts of various kinds, including collections, money for building purposes, machinery, models, etc, amounting to more than $500,000, have been bestowed upon the university. All persons over 16 years of age, qualified to pass the prescribed examinations as to studies, may be admitted, the purpose of the founder being to "found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." In 1872 the university accepted the offer of $250,000 made by Henry W. Sage of Brooklyn, N. Y., for the establishment in connection with the university of an institution for the education of women, to be called the Sage college of Cornell university.