Cornell’s angst

Cornell now has an image committee to remind everyone that it’s an Ivy League college.

“Because of when most people go to college, their identity becomes closely associated with the identity of their university,” said Peter Cohl, a committee founder who graduated last spring and is now working on Madison Avenue.

Let the college’s standing drop in publications that rank universities, he said, and “my value as a human being feels like it’s dropping.” (Cornell is now ranked 13th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report.)

The committee has focused on logos and Cornell-branded caps and hoodies. Next up is a move to lower class size to improve Cornell’s national rank.

Via Constrained Vision.

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  1. Depending on how much money the school spends, it may affect their image with current students. (Though not in a way they’d want).

    When I was in grad school, the school I was attending spent some unholy sum of money on “outside image consultants” who didn’t know the school well, who made fairly ridiculous suggestions. Most of the students I knew rolled their eyes over suggestions for a “mascot redesign” and said things like, They’re spending $70K on this? (And we had a fine marketing program – I said several times that they should have taken on a couple of their own marketing students as interns – that would have been a more win-win situation).

    Where I’m at now, we’re challenged to come up with yearly “mission statements.” Most of us profs being the sort who wouldn’t touch the corporate world with a ten-foot greased pole, we are pretty resistant to this, and tend to come up with things like, “Our mission is to prepare our students for careers in the sciences” (we left off the “like, duh” in the interest of political correctness).

    The sad thing is, true excellence DOESN’T grow out of “mission statements” or “vision statements” or whatever you choose to call it. (In fact, often? It grows out of people being left alone and allowed to do their jobs.)

  2. I don’t think having recent alumni say idiotic things like “my value as a human being is dropping” does much to help Cornell’s image.

  3. Seriously. And does the guy REALLY feel less of a human because his school is not so highly ranked? Because if he does, he’s got something messed up in his priorities.

    I went to a fairly competitive private high school (“Don’t call us ‘prep’ school”) and one of the big pieces of advice the college counselor gave all of us was that the NAME of the school we went to mattered less than the EFFORT each individual put into learning once they got there – that you could go to Harvard and wind up in a bad boring job because you didn’t take your education seriously, or you could go to some little-known state school, and do all sorts of wonderful things because you took advantage of what opportunities were there.

    I’m inclined to agree with him. I started out at a Big Prestigious School and was ultimately unsuccessful. Then I transferred to a smaller state school where, like the legendary Hertz ads, they tried harder. And I had a wonderful experience and received an excellent education. I tend not to consider those rankings as being worth terribly much.

  4. SuperSub says:

    Cornell has fallen victim to a few things…
    One, it is not tied to a large urban area, so prospective students are less drawn to it. Also, less attention is paid to it in the media as a whole.
    Two, the much of the liberal arts curriculum has been watered down to include studies in useless topics. While many rigorous subjects remain, the fact that some students are getting Bachelors degrees for half the work and difficulty as others devalues the whole system.

  5. Indigo Warrior says:

    I started out at a Big Prestigious School and was ultimately unsuccessful. Then I transferred to a smaller state school where, like the legendary Hertz ads, they tried harder.

    Big Prestigious Schools are often very concerned about their prestige, image, and reputation. But these things are not well related to students and what benefits they get out of a school. And in many cases, they only get out of it what they put into it in the first place.

  6. “like the legendary Hertz ads, they tried harder” You’re thinking of Avis, not Hertz.

  7. If Cornell wants to prop up its image, it should try to discourage professors from being interviewed on television.