Cornell’s Twelve Presidents
Livingston Farrand, President, 1921-1937
Livingston Farrand became president of the university in 1921. He initiated a major administrative reorganization to meet the increasing complexities facing the university. New departments and curricula were formed in Music, Fine Arts, Drama, Regional Planning, Chemical Engineering, Automotive and Aeronautic Engineering, and Administrative Engineering. In 1921, a unified College of Engineering was created, and a dean of the Arts College was appointed. In 1922, the first college-level hotel course in the country was begun, and the College of Home Economics was created in 1925, the first state-chartered college of home economics in the country.
Cornell’s international connections were strengthened. Cornell-in-China, originally begun in 1921, became a “Plant Improvement Project” sponsored by the University of Nanking, Cornell, and the International Education Board. In 1931, ten students came from the Soviet Union, most to study engineering.
The Great Depression caused hardships on campus. With the advent of the New Deal, the National Youth Administration provided federal aid to students, in return for work, harkening back to Ezra Cornell’s efforts to provide student jobs and looking forward to modern work-study programs.
Farrand provided strong support for academic freedom during the 1930s. Despite severe economic problems associated with the Depression, Farrand’s achievements were substantial. Enrollment rose to 6,341 by 1937. The general endowment increased from $12,200,000 to $19,800,000, and the value of Cornell’s buildings and grounds grew from $10,200,000 to $26,400,00.
Livingston Farrand was born in 1867 in Newark, New Jersey. He graduated from Princeton University in 1888, and took an M.D. degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He was an instructor in psychology at Columbia University, and later adjunct professor. Interested in primitive psychology, he joined expeditions to the Pacific northwest with Franz Boas and others, and was appointed professor of anthropology at Columbia in 1903.
Farrand was deeply concerned with public health questions, serving as Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis from 1905 to 1914. In 1914 he became President of the University of Colorado. In 1917, as director of the Anti-Tuberculosis Commission, he worked in France under the auspices of the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation. His success led to his appointment after the war as chairman of the Central Committee of the American Red Cross. In 1921 he was inaugurated as the fourth president of Cornell University, a position he held until 1937. Livingston Farrand died in 1939.
Livingston Farrand, ca. 1925.
The 1932 Cornell University Faculty
The Cornell Medical College
In 1927, the Cornell Medical College merged with the New York Hospital to occupy a new building on Avenue A between East 68th and 70th Streets in Manhattan.
Planting experimental plots of rice, Tai Ping Men Farm, Nanking, 1932.
Cornell's technical assistance programs officially began in the 1920s when Cornell entered into an agreement with the University of Nanking in China. The program included a comprehensive crop improvement program involving the major food crops of central and northern China; training of Chinese in the principles, methods, applications, and organization of crop improvement; and direct participation by a professor from Cornell for several months of each year, beginning in 1925.
Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Livingston Farrand, May 31, 1932
Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose were named as co-directors of the College of Home Economics. It was not until 1942 that Sarah Gibson Blanding would be appointed as dean of the college, becoming the first woman at Cornell to hold that position.
Letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to Livingston Farrand, May 31, 1932, cont.
Letter from Edward R. Murrow, August 29, 1933
In the 1930s Cornell participated in a national program to provide jobs for German scholars displaced by the Nazi regime. President Farrand was chairman of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced German Scholars. This letter from Edward R. Murrow concerns funds for the reappointment of Kurt Lewin, formerly a psychologist at the University of Berlin as acting professor of education at Cornell.
N.Y.A. (National Youth Administration) Student Aid Program at Cornell University, 1935-1936.