University Never Expected to Make It This Far

ITHACA — As Cornell’s Sesquicentennial celebrations come to an end, students, alumni, faculty and more are still in shock that the university was able to survive for the past 150 years. Many among the Cornell community thought this school would have collapsed much sooner, and it is truly a miracle that it was able to last this long.

Famed Cornell historian Isaac Kramnick lectured on Charter Day about how “the university’s historic mishandling of assets means that, by all accounts, we should have gone under around the turn of the twentieth century. And how we ever survived the depression is beyond me.”

Archivists in Olin Library have uncovered some of Ezra Cornell’s original notes made at the university’s inception, circa 1863, reading “Any person can find instruction in any study. Let us see how long we can maintain that standard. In my estimation, perhaps some twenty years before we deplete our already sparse resources. I would be pleased with that. Thirty would be a stretch.”

All things considered, 150 years is a spectacular achievement, given the circumstances. Current estimations give Cornell University another five, ten years tops.

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