Fast Facts: Cornell Enrollment Figures, Part II

31 03 2015

Part I in September 2013 looked at enrollment from 2002-2012. This time, it’s a look over the whole 150 year history of Cornell.

The information and plots included here come courtesy of the Institutional Research and Planning unit at Cornell University, the same unit that maintains the Cornell University Factbook.


As of Fall 2014, Cornell University enrolled 21,850 students at its Ithaca campus, the latest statistic on the rapid increase in student population since 2005, when the total student population was 19,447.  Many of the ups and downs in the 150 years or Cornell are easy enough to qualify – drops in male enrollment as students went off to fight in World War I and World War II, the Post-WWII GI Bill bringing an enormous increase in enrollment. Then there’s a leveling off in enrollment during the 1970s due to financial constraints, and the rapid rise of women in college starting in the late 1960s, as more and more women sought out education and careers.

Early on, a decline can be seen in enrollment, from 561 in 1876-77 to a low of 384 students in 1881-82. According to Morris Bishop in A History of Cornell, “Various reasons were given for the dwindling enrollment: hard times, increased tuition, stiffened entrance exams, coeducation, Cornell’s reputation for religion. Probably each of these reasons was valid in certain cases (p. 201).” The absence of university president A. D. White while he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 1879-1881 didn’t help matters. Thankfully for the university’s finances, enrollment rebound and morale increased after White returned.


More notably, starting around fall 2011, the number of women enrolled as undergrads exceeded the number of men, the first time ever in Cornell’s history. This reflects national trends – women are now the majority of matriculated students in all self-identifying groups.


Perhaps in part due to large increases in research spending in the 1950s and 1960s, grad students more than doubled in population in fifteen years, increasing from 1,528 in 1950 to 3,149 in 1965. The growth since 2000 isn’t as dramatic, but nearly as large in number – 3,918 in 2000 to 5,140 in 2014. The drop off in the 1990s can be attributed to “cuts in federal aid to higher education, especially R1 type institutions”, according to Ithaca College Economics professor Elia Kacapyr.


Taking a quick look at the law school’s enrollment numbers, there was a tremendous spike in enrollment after World War II, thanks to the GI Bill – 460 students in 1950, more than doubling the 201 reported in 1939. 78 percent of law students in 1950 hailed from other institutions for their undergraduate degrees (Morris Bishop’s A History of Cornell, p. 575). During WWII, the law school accelerated its degree program by a year (Bishop 547), which might explain why the drop was more severe than in other programs. A mere 49 students were enrolled in the law school in Fall 1943.

More recently, Cornell had a spike in law school enrollment, as part of a larger boom in law school education during the recession. The law school went from 583 students in 2008 to 689 in 2009, a remarkable amount of growth for one year. Law school looked like a ticket to a six-figure job during the recession, but after a couple of years of horror stories of law students unable to find high-paying jobs to match their high debts, applications have decreased nationwide and the enrollment numbers at Cornell have eased down just a little bit, to 668. The shrinkdown isn’t nearly as bad as some other schools, however.


On the other hand, it now seems like MBAs are the go-to for that six-figure job, with a large boost in matriculants nationwide. Whether or not B-school grads have a law school-like meltdown has yet to be seen, but there’s no doubt that MBA student enrollment is growing by tremendous leaps and bounds Far Above Cayuga – the Johnson School of Management has grown from 655 students in 2004 to 1,168 in 2014.

One thing that stands out is that from 1947 (when the business school began teaching students) to 1969, there had never been more than 4 women enrolled at any one time.


Lastly, the Vet School. Morris Bishop has an enlightening anecdote to share about applying to the school in the Post-War era:

“The Veterinary College was distressed by its popularity. The upsurge of interest in the scientific study of animal life and disease overwhelmed the country’s ten veterinary colleges. By 1947 we had 750 applications for entrance, or fifteen for every place. Since our first duty was to New York State boys, out-of-state applicants had one chance in forty of admission. The same situation prevailed elsewhere; a boy who lived in a state without a veterinary school had practically no chance of entering the field. The need led to the creation of a number of new schools, and the pressure upon Cornell gradually eased.” (Bishop 576)

Starting in 1980, women exceeded enrollment of men at the Vet School – today, the breakdown is about 75-25 in favor of women. I have had several vet school friends say that to be a single straight male in the Vet School makes one a very hot commodity. Cornell can expect to see increases in enrollment in the next few years, as part of its plan to enroll 120 in each class (480 total, up from the current 421) by 2017.

Ithaca Jobs Numbers Revised – Vindication Feels Good

19 03 2015
I predicted between 69,600 and 70,100. Looks like I’m right, for now.
March is an important month for the Bureau of Labor Statistics; it’s the month where the previous three years’ of data are revised. For Ithaca, it’s yielded some very interesting results.

First off, the 2013 numbers have been revised from a yearly average of 69,000 to an average of 69,400, a 2.8% increase or 1,900 jobs more than the 2012 averaged job total of 67,500. The 2012 data were not changed.

Secondly, the 2014 total job numbers have also been revised upward, from an initial estimate of 69,150 jobs, to 69,650 in the Ithaca area in 2014. The gain seems paltry compared to 2013’s gains. 250 jobs, a 0.4% increase.

Looking at the data more closely, the 2014 data is, at a glance, alarming – November 2014 lost 1,000 jobs when compared to November 2013. December 2014 lost 1,500 jobs when compared to December 2013.

However, these results aren’t the result of changes in 2014. The Voice looked at archived reports of the initial jobs numbers for 2013 and 2014, which we’ve included below (values shown are in thousands – for example, 69.0 equals 69,000 jobs).

Now here are the revised 2013 numbers and 2014 numbers:

For visual reference, here’s a lne and bar plot of the numbers.
The large drop last Spring has been erased. The drop of 1300 jobs last May is now a gain of 700. Pretty big difference. Spring 2013 job numbers decreased slightly in the revision.Summer employment values were also decreased in both years, which means there is more seasonality to the Ithaca employment cycle than previously estimated.

Fall 2013, by the BLS’s account, had tremendous job growth, with November and December 2013 now tied at 73,700 jobs, the record employment figures in the Ithaca metro. A revision such as December 2013’s, where 2800 more jobs were added, is highly unusual. It is because of this revision that the 2014 numbers look so poorly – compared to the initial fall 2014 values, they were actually increased a little bit, just not as much as 2013’s were.

So what can we expect from the 2014 numbers moving forward? Being the “freshest” data, there is a very good chance they will be revised again next March. For the sake of example, the 2013 numbers were initially 68,000 at the end of 2013, then 69,000 in the March 2014, and now 69,400. We will need to wait and see if the fall 2014 figures are adjusted, and by now much.

2013 Census Estimates, Part II: Everybody Shares the Wealth

24 05 2014

5-1-2012 136

For the data geeks out there…the 2013 census estimates. A few highlights:

  • No city, village or town in Tompkins County is estimated to have lost population from 2012-2013, or 2010-2013.
  • Ithaca city had an estimated gain of +180 since 2012. The current estimated population is 30,515, 1.67% higher than the 2010 census value of 30,014.
  • Ithaca city is growing faster than Ithaca town, but the pace is uneven. Ithaca town was thought to have lost population from 2010-2011, but gained a greater percentage than Ithaca city this past year.
  • The village of Dryden exploded 8.7% in the past year alone, thanks to the opening of Poet’s Landing. For the decade so far, it’s increased 10.16% to 2,082.
  • More realistically, the second fastest grower is the town of Danby, from 3329 to 3462, or 4% in three years. Decadal extrapolation estimates 13.32% over the period (pop. ~3772 in 2020)
  • The slowest growing community is Freeville, with 0.77% growth from 2010-2013 (520 to 524). Second slowest is the town of Caroline at 0.94% (3282 to 3313). The county average is 2.02% for 2010-2013.

Entity 2010 REAL / 2010 EST / 2011 EST / 2012 EST / 2013 EST / GAIN, 2010-2013 /  DECADAL EXTRAP.

Tompkins County New York 101564 101588 101847 102713 103617 2053 2.02% 6.74%

Cayuga Heights village New York 3729 3729 3733 3756 3776 47 1.26% 4.20%

Dryden village New York 1890 1891 1897 1916 2082 192 10.16% 33.86%

Freeville village New York 520 520 520 523 524 4 0.77% 2.56%

Groton village New York 2363 2369 2371 2389 2408 45 1.90% 6.35%

Ithaca city New York 30014 30014 30167 30335 30515 501 1.67% 5.56%

Lansing village New York 3529 3529 3555 3597 3616 87 2.47% 8.22%

Trumansburg village New York 1797 1797 1809 1819 1832 35 1.95% 6.49%

Balance of Tompkins County New York 57722 57739 57795 58378 58864 1142 1.98% 6.59%

Caroline town New York 3282 3288 3280 3302 3313 31 0.94% 3.15%

Danby town New York 3329 3330 3364 3424 3462 133 4.00% 13.32%

Dryden town New York 14435 14436 14477 14617 14852 417 2.89% 9.63%

Dryden village New York 1890 1891 1897 1916 2082 192 10.16% 33.86%

Freeville village New York 520 520 520 523 524 4 0.77% 2.56%

Balance of Dryden town New York 12025 12025 12060 12178 12246 221 1.84% 6.13%

Enfield town New York 3512 3512 3534 3572 3586 74 2.11% 7.02%

Groton town New York 5950 5973 5985 6027 6091 141 2.37% 7.90%

Groton village New York 2363 2369 2371 2389 2408 45 1.90% 6.35%

Balance of Groton town New York 3587 3604 3614 3638 3683 96 2.68% 8.92%

Ithaca city New York 30014 30014 30167 30335 30515 501 1.67% 5.56%

Ithaca town New York 19930 19930 19836 19958 20132 202 1.01% 3.38%

Cayuga Heights village New York 3729 3729 3733 3756 3776 47 1.26% 4.20%

Balance of Ithaca town New York 16201 16201 16103 16202 16356 155 0.96% 3.19%

Lansing town New York 11033 11027 11082 11256 11362 329 2.98% 9.94%

Lansing village New York 3529 3529 3555 3597 3616 87 2.47% 8.22%

Balance of Lansing town New York 7504 7498 7527 7659 7746 242 3.22% 10.75%

Newfield town New York 5179 5178 5193 5235 5263 84 1.62% 5.41%

Ulysses town New York 4900 4900 4929 4987 5041 141 2.88% 9.59%

Trumansburg village New York 1797 1797 1809 1819 1832 35 1.95% 6.49%

Fast Facts: Academic Staff and Faculty Trends

10 11 2013


In the entry, faculty are defined as “part-time, clinical and acting assistant, associate and full professors”, while academic staff are defined as “instructors, lecturers, senior lecturers, teaching associates, research and senior research associates, research scientists and principal research scientists, extension and senior extension associates, librarians, associate librarians, senior assistant librarians, assistant librarians and archivists”. All data is taken from the Cornell University Factbook:

Total Aca Staff

Fact number one – the number of academic staff has decreased, from 2,728 in 2001 to 2,660 in 2012. The number peaked at about 2,841 in Fall 2008, and has largely declined since then, as the Great Recession took its toll. CALS and Engineering appear to still be declining, with staff reductions near 10% in the past five years alone (704 to 654, and 306 to 280 respectively).  AAP has lost 14 positions in the same span, reducing academic staff from 69 to 55. Some schools, like the Hotel School and Law School, never really saw declines, while others such as HuMec and Arts & Sciences have started to rebound.

Faculty and Aca Staff

Let’s break down these numbers a little more, into faculty and academic professionals. Faculty numbers went from 1551 in 2001, to 1647 in Fall 2007 (its peak), to 1587 in Fall 2012. Academic staff went from 1,177 in 2001, to a peak of 1,219 in Fall 2005 (and a secondary peak of 1,208 in Fall 2008), and had decreased to 1,073 in Fall 2012. Let’s note that the student population has increased substantially since 2001, especially among the graduate student and professional student sub-groups.

Faculty Percentages

Overall, the faculty proportions haven’t changed too much. Slightly less assistant and full professors, and slightly more associate professors. It has been noted 47 percent of professors are over age 55, and 15 percent over age 65. Cornell had set a goal in Fall 2011 to bring in new blood and expand its faculty base by hiring 100 new faculty per year, but given these numbers, I’m doubtful that is occurring.

Aca Staff Percentages

With academic staff, the big decrease has been with those working in extension (Cornell Cooperative Extension). Some of these cuts were publicized, like the 17 staff that were laid off from ILR Extension in February 2009 (apparently, the Sun link no longer works since their website had to be rebuilt). Cornell Cooperative Extension comprises university outreach and research conducted as part of the university’s land-grant commitment to the state, mostly in agricultural concerns and community programs.

Aca Staff vs. Time

The drop in extension is illustrated further here. In 2001, it had 290 staff. In 2012, 0nly 213. The research staff went from 410 to 392 in the same span (note that there 454 researchers in fall 2008), and 126 to 110 librarian staff. Academic instruction staff increased from 351 to 358. Note that academic instruction staff does not include post-docs, as they are considered temporary employees of the university. Off-hand, given the salaries posted on sites like Glassdoor, I wonder if lower-cost lecturers and teaching associates are being hired in place of professors, and if the university has become more dependent on the cheap labor provided by grad students as their budget has tightened.

Fast Facts – Cornell Admissions

5 09 2013

7-26-2013 039

Well if this isn’t just one of the best one-stop shopping sites for Cornell facts. Five years ago, when this blog started, the “University Factbook” would best be described as a bunch of sparsely-populated webpages and a ramshackle set of links between them, more of an amateur endeavor than anything specific produced by the university. This is quite much awesome.

Since I feed off of Cornell/Cornelliana facts much like an addict looking for their next hit, I thought it was fascinating to consider enrollment trends and things of those numbers in context. Since the graphs start at 1980, I’ll start from there as well. Note that these figures cover undergraduate admissions only.

  • Looking at the number of applications and starting with the 17,007 in 1980, there’s a steady rise through most the 1980s, peaking in fall 1988 with 21,765 applications. From there, the numbers drop off to about 20,000 and stay close to that value until the fall of 2004, where a rapid ascension commences. Much of this can be explained by Cornell starting to accept the Common Application, where a check of the box equals another base application, making it much easier for the prospect to apply to 20 schools instead of a few.  Arts and Sciences and CALS follow the same general trend, while engineers never had much of a peak in the 80s, and AAP applications have dropped off since 2010. HumEc has stayed roughly constant since the late 1980s, the Hotel school shows the most wild swings, and ILR really took off in 2006, when some folks decided that being a lawyer was the path to easy riches. We also have the ones that don’t choose a school, which if I remember right, means an automatic rejection. Cornell shows at least 1,000 a year since 2006, and over 2,000 in 2008. Nice one, kids.
  • Looking at acceptances, Cornell started the ’80s with around 5500 acceptances per cycle, creeping past 6,000 as the decade progressed. For some reason, the numbers shot up in the 1990s to over 7,000 acceptances by 1993, and stayed near that number through 1998. After that, Cornell became more stringent, and acceptances dropped to 5,861 by 2001. Numbers have stayed in the 6,000 range since, with mini-peaks in the fall 2006 and 2008 classes, and little dips in the early 2000s and with the most recent classes.
  • The largest freshman classes? 2011, with 3356, followed by 1993(3286) and 2013(3282). The lows were all in the early 1980s, led by 1982(2785), and followed by 1980(2836) and 1981(2885). Cornell’s capacity has grown over the years, as the north campus townhouses were built in 1989, and CKB/Mews were opened in 2001. Notably, the last sub-3,000 class, in 1992(2959), seems to have precipitated the 1993 peak. No schools show any discernible trends, although Engineering’s numbers were up during the days of the 1990s tech boom.
  • The highest yields for the university (average 49.2%) were in 1984, 2000, 2001, and post-2010 (2013 is the highest at 53.4%). The lowest yields were 1992-97 and the mid 2000s. 1992 was the lowest at 44.4%. The university will have its work cut out for it as the echo boomers/millennials finish their collegiate years and schools compete over what may be smaller applicant pools.
  • HumEc shows the widest range in yield, with a low of 48% in 1983 to a high of 96% with the fall 2001 frosh class (the latest class is 67%). Schools with specialized focuses, like ILR and Hotel, seem to have the best yields, as Hotel pulls numbers consistently near 90%, and ILR does as well (albeit a little more inconsistently). CALS also pulls above average numbers, which may be in part to the in-state tuition benefit. Engineers are close to the university average (damn you MIT), while Arts has an average yield only in the upper 30s (there’s just so many liberal arts schools to compete with, not to mention the other Ivies…)
  • On average, women have a slightly higher yield than men, 49.9% vs. 48.4%. A few years, such as 2008, had a higher yield for men than women.

Motivation for New Construction: 2012 Census Estimates

15 03 2013

11-24-2012 194

With over 2,500 housing units planned within the  county, and only so many increasingly spendthrift college students to exploit, local developers kinda need further justification to launch into such a building boom. The census is certainly supportive of their plans.

Following the new April 2012 census estimates (file here), from April 2010 to July 2012, Tompkins County has likely added another 990 residents, bringing the local population to 102,554. Interestingly enough, Tompkins and the bordering counties serve as a little growth pocket in otherwise declining upstate New York – Broome County, home to Binghamton, lost the most residents of any county, with about 2,540 shipping out, a drop of 1.3%. The largest increases upstate came in from Jefferson County (home to the growing Fort Drum), and Saratoga County (home to the very large and very new computer chip plant), with Tompkins in third with 1.0% growth. Given the 5.2% growth of the last decade, Tompkins is on par with its growth rate in the 2000s.

I should issue the token disclaimer that there are estimates, and the actual numbers can be a surprise when they come out in 2020. For instance, it was thought in the 2000s that Onondaga County/Syracuse lost 4,000 people over the decade – they gained 9,000. And I’m not sure how much I believe the rapidly suburbanizing Dutchess County, which hasn’t lost population since the 1890s, is believed to have lost people over the two year span. For Tompkins County in 2010, the original estimates were too high by a little over 200 (an error of about 4%).  Also, perhaps this comes as no surprise, the New York portion of the New York metro added about 160,000 people, cementing their belief that they are the center of the world and the rest of us just live in it.

Two of the numbers I like to throw around for a housing unit is that Tompkins averages 2.4 occupants for non-college housing, 2.0 for college housing. If we use that 990 figure, it can be broken down to 413 traditional units or 495 college student units – and that’s additional units required in two years, in a county already experiencing a housing shortage.  I’d say builders have all the justification they need for development in the near-term.


Ithaca’s Economic Mystery

25 06 2012


One of the sections I tend to read in online news are local/state job reports, since they tend to be a bellwether for economic growth, and by extension new development projects that get featured in this blog. One of the things that has been of some curiosity to me in the past couple months is how poorly Ithaca’s economy appear to be doing. According to the NYS Labor Department, the state has seen about 2% in private sector jobs over the past 12 months – about 134,000. Not great, but not bad for a state that has been bogged down in economic doldrums since Gerald Ford was in office. As one would expect, some metros do better (Kingston, Utica-Rome) and two show remarkable decreases of -3.6% and -5.6%. These would be Elmira and Ithaca respectively.

Now, perhaps its just me, but if the economic shrank 6%in one year in a county of Tompkin’s size, you’d hear about it (and no, I don’t think there’s some vast political conspiracy by some partisan group to hide the figures). 3,200 jobs lost is something that can’t seem to occur unless there was very large company closing, something that would’ve been alluded to in the Ithaca Journal. As far as I know, Borg-Warner is still operating, and Cornell laid off at most a small fraction of 3,200 in the past year. There haven’t been huge decreases in sales of “essential” goods, not has help wanted advertising changed dramatically (assuming the monthly reports of Elias Kacapyr are correct, anyway). So for the longest time, I had been wondering what the heck was going on in Tompkins County.

Well, it would seem that I wasn’t the only one wondering about this. The local county development agency accuses the Board of Labor Statistics of undercounting jobs, a problem they state has been an issue in the recent past. As much as the cynic within me is tempted to see as someone just trying to downplay the number, I’m inclined to believe that they’re right, because the rest of the numbers don’t show the drastic changes such a sharp drop would entail. One would expect a large drop in help wanted advertising, a reduction in building permits, and a decrease in sales, especially luxury goods. While these all have had ups and downs, none of these have changed to a degree that would support such a steep job loss. So, it doesn’t pass the logic test (unless one argues there much more commuting to the 4,400 jobs added in Binghamton and Syracuse).

Of course, any job loss is a bad thing. But I wonder where in the world the Bureau of Labor Statistics is getting these numbers.


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