Advancing efforts to make community learning a hallmark of the Cornell student experience, university leaders and administrators officially opened the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement on October 22 in a ceremony at the Statler hotel.
The Einhorn Center further establishes Cornell as a model for publicly engaged universities, building on the founding values of university land granting.
Cornell administrator David M. Einhorn ’91, who provided endowment funding to the center through his foundation, Einhorn Collaborative, said the center would help equip students with the necessary knowledge and empathy. to solve urgent social problems.
“Community-based learning fosters self-reflection and enables students to form positive interpersonal relationships with people of different backgrounds and worldviews,” said Einhorn. “It helps them recognize how interconnected and interdependent we are – as neighbors, colleagues and citizens. “
Community-based learning, he said, is a win-win solution that benefits both students and community partners who help lead and shape collaborations that develop deeper understanding.
“The commitment goes both ways,” he said. “It’s reciprocal.”
President Martha E. Pollack and Robert S. Harrison ’76, Chairman of the Board of Directors joined Einhorn for the unveiling of a plaque which will be placed in the Engaged Cornell Hub at Kennedy Hall. He recognizes Einhorn for his vision and support “enabling students to lead positive change in the world and inspire a legacy of engaged Cornellians”.
This legacy is at the heart of the university’s mission to create knowledge for public ends, Pollack said.
“When people ask me what engagement means, I say it takes everything we do, learn, know and create here at Cornell, and bring it to the world,” Pollack said. “It connects our campus community and the work we do here with the communities around us – across state, country and around the world. “
Examples, she said, range from Cornell Cooperative Extension internships and workshops at the Center for Teaching Innovation, to community learning opportunities – whether at a nearby primary school or on a Kenyan farm.
Harrison recognized Einhorn for his leadership as a director, including as co-chair of the Academic Affairs committee and member of the executive committee, and for his long-standing commitment to broadening engagement experiences at Cornell.
“We look forward to seeing the continued increase in the profile of public engagement across the university,” said Harrison. “Never before in the history of this land granting university… the Cornellians had so many avenues to impact the lives of people around the world.”
The David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement officially began operations in July, integrating the Office of Engagement Initiatives and the Cornell Public Service Center. The center serves as a focal point that connects students to high-quality engagement and service opportunities through coursework, research and extracurricular activities, and also supports faculty and staff with funding opportunities. who strengthen their capacities as educators and academics engaged in the community.
The center is headed by Basil Safi, its executive director, and Krista Saleet, deputy executive director; and jointly overseen by Katherine McComas, Ph.D. ’00, vice president for engagement and land grant affairs, and Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life.
McComas called the new organization a “big step forward” in Cornell’s commitment to community learning and hundreds of community partners.
In 2021, she said, nearly 5,000 undergraduates – twice as many as five years ago – have taken courses that incorporate community learning. The Engaged Colleges Initiative integrates such programs into college missions, McComas said, helping meet the growing demand from incoming students who deem public engagement “very important” to their college choice.
“With the launch of the Einhorn Center, we stand ready to meet this demand and do more to foster community engagement,” said McComas, “and to help prepare students for generations to come to become builders of bridges in our society that seek to connect with the world around them in meaningful and beneficial ways.
Lombardi said the opportunities connecting Cornell’s leading academics with the lived experience of students are “where the magic really happens.”
“These extracurricular experiences provide a spark for students,” he said, “helping them respond not only to what they want to do, but also to who they want to be.”
Lombardi said the center will engage alumni in an advisory capacity to help advance its mission, connect with the community and mentor students.
Her parents, Stephen Einhorn ’64 and Nancy Einhorn ’64, joined Einhorn for the celebration; brother Daniel Einhorn ’95; and children Rachel Einhorn ’19, Naomi Einhorn ’21 and Mitchell Einhorn. Also in attendance were two Cornellians in leadership positions at Einhorn Collaborative: Jennifer Hoos Rothberg ’04, MRP ’05, the Executive Director; and Itai Dinour ’01. Over 150 students, faculty, staff and community partners also participated.
Inviting others to support the initiative, Einhorn said the new center stands out because it is designed to support and inspire all Cornell students in all facets of campus life – through their courses, residences , clubs and teams – to pursue high quality, community-driven learning experiences.
“Our country is currently facing multiple crises, and there is no doubt that we have a responsibility to help our nation heal,” said Einhorn. “Imagine the role the Cornellians can play in leading the way. “