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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Cornell: A History, 1940-2015

The book

In this acclaimed publication, Glenn C. Altschuler, dean of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions and the Litwin Professor of American Studies, and Isaac Kramnick, recently retired as the Richard Schwartz Professor of Government, chronicle Cornell's seventy-five-year journey from World War II to the creation of Cornell NYC Tech.

Cornell's recent history, Altschuler and Kramnick believe, is in large part a narrative about the “Cornell idea” of freedom and responsibility—a narrative begun in 1940, when historian Carl Becker “linked Cornell's unique historic vision... of collegiate freedom to the worldwide struggle... between liberty and dictatorship.”

The authors relate profound, fascinating, and little-known incidents involving the faculty, administration, and student life as the university navigates its way through the Cold War, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, antiapartheid protests, the women's movement, and the opening of relations with China.

Altschuler and Kramnick had access to all existing papers of the presidents of Cornell, which deeply informs their respectful but unvarnished portrait of the university.

The book is available from Cornell University Press and from The Cornell Store.

Authors of Cornell: A History read excerpts at book launch

Altschuler and Kramnick read excerpts from Cornell: A History, 1940-2015 at the book launch in Barnes Hall on September 10, 2014. In this short clip, hear about former Cornell president Jeffrey Lehman and the great Cornell pumpkin prank of 1997.

Changes and continuities in faculty and students

Video: Watch the authors talk about the changes and continuities in Cornell's faculty and students during the 2014 Olin Lecture in Bailey Hall on June 6, 2014.

The authors

Glenn Altschuler

Glenn Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies, dean of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, and a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow. From 2009 to 2013 he served as Cornell's vice president for university relations. He is the author or coauthor of ten books and more than one thousand essays, reviews, and op-eds, and he was chair of the Cornell Sesquicentennial Steering Committee. Read more about Professor Altschuler.

Isaac Kramnick

Isaac Kramnick taught at Cornell from 1972 until his retirement in June 2015. Author or editor of more than 20 books, he served Cornell as department chair, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, vice provost for undergraduate education, and faculty-elected trustee. He was also a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, faculty champion of the West Campus House System, and member of the Cornell Sesquicentennial Steering Committee. Read more about Professor Kramnick.

In the media