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Founding Principles

One of two founding principles of Cornell University was originally spoken by Ezra Cornell on October 7, 1868, at the official dedication of Cornell University and the inauguration of its first president, Andrew Dickson White.

The motto can be used as a complete statement:

I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.

or in an abbreviated form, which should be punctuated exactly as shown:

... any person ... any study.

The concept of “... any person” meant that people from all walks of life, all income levels, races, religions and genders could attend Cornell University. Similarly, “... any study” underscored the freedom to pursue academic interests wherever they lead. For more than 150 years, talented scholars representing the full, diverse spectrum of humanity have come to Cornell for a world-class educational experience unlike any other.

Another founding principle is our commitment to public engagement. As the designated land-grant institution for New York state and the only land-grant university in the Ivy League, Cornell is uniquely positioned to apply world-class expertise to solving real-world problems. This ambition lies at the heart of our land-grant status and drives work in our labs, classrooms and in the field to pursue knowledge with a public purpose.