The University Faculty - Memorial Statements

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From its founding, the Cornell University Faculty has had a practice of recording a tribute to its members upon their deaths. The first and second such entries in the faculty minutes were for William C. Cleveland, Professor of Civil Engineering (d: January 16, 1873) and Ezra Cornell, Founder of the University and President of the Board of Trustees from its founding in 1863 until his death on December 9, 1874. Since 1938, rather than formulating these tributes as resolutions that were adopted by the Faculty and by the Board of Trustees, these memorials have been published in a booklet that is shared with the families of the deceased faculty member and with the University Faculty. With the 1971-1972 booklet, the name was changed from Necrology of the Faculty of Cornell University to Memorial Statements: Cornell University Faculty.

The memorial statements are authored by colleagues of the deceased faculty member. In some of the earlier memorial statements, the committee memberships were not listed in the booklets but can be found in the original faculty minutes. Some of the earlier statements are accompanied by statements prepared at the time of the person’s retirement.

For many years after the Ithaca Division of the Cornell Medical College was transferred to New York City, the deceased members of the Medical College Faculty were included in the Memorial Statements. Since about 1980 the deceased members of the Cornell University Medical College (now Weill Cornell Medical College) are no longer included.

In 1941, following the transition from resolutions to booklets, Cornelius Betten, the then Dean of the Faculty, assembled all of these earlier memorial resolutions into a volume called Necrology of the Faculty, which has been preserved by the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections of the Cornell University Library. In recent years these booklets have been prepared by Jean Morehouse, Judy Bower, Diane Lalonde, Karen Lucas, Andrea Smith, and C.A. Shugarts.

In 2009, that retrospective volume, and all the memorial statement booklets since 1938, were carefully restored as editable text and prepared in a common format for this collection as a project by the Internet-First University Press, led by J. Robert Cooke and Kenneth M. King. The scanning and optical character recognition services were provided by the Cornell University Library.

With permission of the former Dean of the University Faculty, William E. Fry, and the sponsorship of the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti, all the memorial statements, up to 2009, were made readily available online. Proofreaders included: Barry B. Adams, Royal D. Colle, Gould P. Colman, P.C. Tobias de Boer, Ronald B. Furry, Donald F. Holcomb, Malden C. Nesheim, Porus D. Olpadwala and Milo E. Richmond.

In January 2023, under the leadership of Dean of Faculty Eve De Rosa, memorial statements from 2009-2022 were added to the archive. Today, statements are uploaded annually to this archive by the Office of the Dean of Faculty to ensure accessibility for current and future generations.

Please start your research with the Comprehensive Index.


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