Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 7

On October 7, 1868, Cornell University was inaugurated and a class of 412 men was enrolled the next day. The university was formally founded in April of the next year as New York State’s land grant institution, resulting from the Morrill Act (1862) that granted federally controlled land to the states to establish colleges for teaching practical skills ("without excluding ... classical studies"). This was a response to the industrial revolution and changing social class. State Senator Ezra Cornell offered his farm in Ithaca as a site and a $500,000 endowment from his personal fortune (he had founded Western Union). Cornell and Andrew Dickson White focused on all fields of knowledge, from the classics to the sciences and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are embodied in Cornell's motto: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

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