Cornell University was founded in turbulent times. With the Civil War winding down, and less than two weeks after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Governor of New York signed the school’s official charter in the state capital, Albany, where only the day before Lincoln’s funeral procession had passed through the city’s streets.
Two men were behind the drive to establish a first-class university in upstate New York: wealthy businessman Ezra Cornell, the founder of Western Union, who was originally from Ithaca (where the new school was to be located), and Andrew Dickson White, a prominent historian and educator, who hailed from nearby Syracuse. Later on, White would be best remembered as the author of A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896), and from the beginning he envisioned Cornell as a rigorously secular institution with a special emphasis on the natural sciences.
This lack of an original religious orientation, as well as its geographical isolation from the American center of cultural gravity on the East Coast, make Cornell a bit of an odd-man-out among the eight schools that make up the Ivy League. However, the university’s right to a place among that elite grouping is more than justified by the intellectual firepower of its faculty. Moreover, despite its rural setting, Cornell’s sprawling campus and its total university population of over 23,000 (more than twice the size of the town of Ithaca itself) easily make it a rival of the other Ivy League schools in scale.
One of Cornell’s areas of particular strength is medicine. The Weill Cornell Medical School, located in Manhattan, is one of the most selective in the nation. Cornell also runs the Weill Cornell Medical College located in Doha, Qatar.
An astonishing 50 Nobel laureates are connected with Cornell, not to mention many other highly influential thinkers and authors. For example, among Nobel Prize– winners in physics, we many mention:
Cornell-connected chemistry Nobelists include:
In physiology or medicine, we may mention:
Four Cornell-connected economists have won the Nobel Prize in their field:
No fewer than four Nobel Prize laureates in literature have studied or taught at Cornell:
However, perhaps the most distinguished of all Cornell-connected literary figures (and one of the Swedish Academy’s worst oversights) is the great Russian émigré novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, who taught here from 1948 until 1959, when the international succès de scandale of his novel Lolita (1955) permitted him to retire from teaching.
Among other distinguished Cornell-connected individuals (in addition to the above), we may mention:
What does this school look for?
Median SAT Score
Median ACT Score
How much does it cost to attend?
|Income||Average Net Cost|
Averages for 10 years after enrolling
What's it like to attend this school?
Full time on-campus stats
Where will you be attending?
300 Day Hall,
On Campus Crime Rates
12 per 100k
0 per 100k
City Crime Rates
29 per 100k
2 per 100k
Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.
Who are Cornell University's Most influential alumni?
Cornell University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Engineering, Computer Science, and Biology. Cornell University’s most academically influential people include Kurt Vonnegut, Norbert Wiener, and Toni Morrison.
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