Cornell University is facing pressure to end its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, with a major donor urging the board to replace the president and eliminate DEI staffing and programming.
The donor, Jon A. Lindseth, expressed concern about the school’s embrace of DEI policies, halting donations until the university reforms its approach.
Lindseth’s letter has garnered support and criticism, highlighting concerns about the impact of DEI initiatives on academic freedom and the overall quality of education.
“Replace the President and the Provost,” Jon A. Lindseth wrote.
“Eliminate DEI staffing and programming. Revert to Open Inquiry, Academic Freedom, Free Expression, and Viewpoint Diversity on campus,” he wrote.
“For nearly seven years, I have strongly supported President Pollack, and that support remains strong today,” Kraig Kayser said. “The board is working effectively with the administration to respond to various challenges facing higher education and opportunities to advance the university’s mission.”
“I am proud to count myself one of several generations of Lindseths who are Cornell alumni and invested donors, but I am alarmed by the diminished quality of education offered lately by my alma mater because of its disastrous involvement with DEI policies that have infiltrated every part of the university,” he wrote.
“Today, the instruction Cornell offers is in DEI groupthink applied to every field of study. The result is a moral decay, some call it ‘rot,’ that falls in line with prevailing ideology and dishonors basic principles of justice and free speech,” Lindseth added.
Lindseth will refrain from future giving “until the university reformulates its approach to education by replacing DEI groupthink.”
“A new campus ‘bias reporting system’ fosters a hostile Orwellian environment among neighbors, classmates and colleagues reporting on one another. The elimination of grades and SATs has created a system in which equal outcomes rather than proven merit has become the objective. This is disastrous for a research university that is built upon academic achievement and aims to educate and train some of our country’s leading scientists, architects and engineers,” he wrote.
“President Pollack’s shameful recent response to clear acts of terrorism and antisemitism compared with her swift and strong response to the George Floyd tragedy demonstrates that Cornell is no longer concerned with discovering and disseminating knowledge, but rather with adhering to DEI groupthink policies and racialization,” he wrote.
The letter comes amid a broader push by some alumni and donors to hold universities accountable for academic excellence and open inquiry.
“We have received the letter, which has been forwarded to the chair of the Cornell University Board of Trustees. Cornell’s trustees are gathering in New York this week as part of a regularly scheduled series of meetings to discuss university affairs. Board meetings are scheduled many years in advance,” vice president for university relations Joel M. Malina said.