Diversity

"In response to your letter first received, I would say that we have no colored students at the University at present but shall be very glad to receive any who are prepared to enter . . . we should receive him even if all our five hundred white students were to ask for dismissal on that account."
- Andrew Dickson White, Cornell's first president, in an 1874 letter

Cornell's Commitment to Diversity

Many of today’s colleges and universities promote the diversity of their student bodies and academic programs as something new. At Cornell, diversity and multiculturalism have been a defining focus for more than 140 years.

Ever since Ezra Cornell and A.D. White joined forces to "found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study," Cornell has been at the forefront of higher education in embracing students, faculty, and staff of all genders, backgrounds, and ethnicities.

Cornell is committed to extending its legacy of recruiting a heterogeneous faculty, student body, and staff. We foster a climate on campus that doesn't just tolerate differences but treasures them, providing rich opportunities for learning from those differences.

Cornell History Firsts

  • In 1872, Cornell was one of the first co-educational institutions in the East.
  • In 1906, Cornell was the founding institution for Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the first undergraduate African American fraternity.
  • In 1916, Rho Psi, the first Asian fraternity in the Ivy League, was established at Cornell.
  • In 1929, Cornell was the first university to have an interfaith department for religious affairs.
  • In 1936, Cornell was the first university to award a Ph.D. to an African American woman (Flemmie Kittrell).