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Faculty for the Future

Chemist Will Dichtel earns MacArthur 'Genius Award'

Will Dichtel, Cornell associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, whose innovations may allow for ample electricity and for detecting trace amounts of explosives, has received a 2015 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. In its announcement today, the foundation called him “a leading figure in chemistry.”

Twenty-four awards, the so-called “Genius Awards,” were given this year to scientists, artists and community leaders, among them alumnus Christopher Ré '01, Ph.D. '09, a computer scientist at Stanford University. The fellowships carry a $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend over five years.

“Winning this award is just beginning to sink in. For me this is really amazing,” said Dichtel. “You look at the people who have been recognized in the past and there are many of my heroes in science, as well as artists and social reformers whom I admire. Scientific research, much like other creative pursuits, is not always recognized in its own time. This fellowship is wonderful recognition that my students – Cornell undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers – are pushing the boundaries of science forward.”

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Message from the Provost

Cornell faces a remarkable opportunity to secure new faculty members. During the next ten years, more than half of our distinguished faculty members will reach emeritus status. Cornell will need to hire 800 professors, a hiring rate that will not occur again in our lifetimes.

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Our Vision

Because of the critical need to renew faculty ranks, faculty excellence is the top priority of Cornell’s Strategic Plan. Fully engaged in the process of discovery, Cornell’s faculty does pioneering research that influences numerous areas of knowledge. In an unusually collaborative culture, faculty members often work in multidisciplinary teams across departments, colleges, and schools. Accessible and dedicated teachers, they provide insight and inspiration that change students’ lives.

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Our Plan

Our Plan for Faculty Renewal

The university has established a $100 million Cornell Faculty Renewal Fund to hire as many as 100 new faculty members per year for the next five yearsa rate unprecedented at Cornell. New faculty will be hired in areas that are determined to be important academic disciplines now and in the years to come.

Our Plan for Faculty Diversity

Faculty turnover represents a historic opportunity to accelerate hiring that broadens diversity. With small-to-modest improvements in the gender diversity of faculty ranks during the past decade—roughly 27 percent of the faculty is female— we seek continued progress. We also seek greater progress in strengthening racial and ethnic diversity.

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Our Priorities

We seek to raise $50 million in support of faculty renewal and $20 million in support of faculty diversity across our colleges and professional schools.

Faculty Renewal: To honor Cornell’s 150th anniversary in 2015 the university has announced a $50 million Faculty Renewal Sesquicentennial Challenge. The challenge will match multi-year gift commitments of  $500,000 on a $1 for $1 basis. A gift of $500,000 ($100,000 per year for five years), for example, will leverage an additional $500,000 in faculty renewal matching funds, and the donor will receive gift credit of $1 million dollars.

Faculty Diversity: Current-use funds will assist with spouse support or other ways that can help the university to improve the gender and racial/ethnic composition of Cornell’s faculty as a new generation of teachers, researchers, and academic innovators is recruited.

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Office of the Provost



Jon Denison
Associate Vice President for Colleges & Units