Cornell College is a nationally ranked, selective undergraduate liberal arts college of 1,000 students with a historic campus in the picturesque town of Mount Vernon, Iowa—a town distinguished by its vibrant local art scene and recognized by Frommer’s as one of "America's Coolest Small Towns.” Cornell College is highly regarded for the quality and distinctiveness of its academic programs, its first-class faculty, its engaged, talented students, and its distinctive One Course At A Time curriculum, which offers students a flexible and compelling learning environment. One of only 270 colleges in the United States to host an active chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Cornell College has been consistently ranked as one of the best values in higher education, and featured in Colleges That Change Lives.
The college is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, a consortium of 14 distinguished private liberal arts colleges (which include Carleton College, Grinnell College, Colorado College, Macalester College, and Knox College). Cornell boasts a student body that is at once national, international, and highly diverse: Students hail from 45 states and 18 foreign countries, with 27 percent students of color.
Small classes, the One Course At A Time curriculum, an undergraduate student/teacher ratio of 11 to 1, and accessible faculty are often mentioned by students as being among the strengths of the college. Cornell offers 36 majors, 28 minors, and 13 pre-professional programs. In part due to the Block Plan, there are numerous opportunities for independent research in all disciplines, as well as a variety of internships that take advantage of the College's location near Chicago, St. Louis, and Cedar Rapids/Iowa City. Featured interdisciplinary programs are Dimensions: The Center for the Science and Culture of Healthcare for pre-medical and health career preparation; the Berry Center for Economics, Business, and Public Policy studies; the Center for Law and Society; the Center for Literary Arts; the Cornell Summer Research Institute; and Cornell Fellows, a premier internship program.
Cornell graduates have contributed to society in all fields and endeavors and include recent recipients of the National Medal of Science, the Pulitzer Prize, and in 2012 the Black Engineer of the Year.
History: Cornell College open its doors in Mount Vernon, Iowa, in 1853, seven years after Iowa achieved statehood. Founded as the Iowa Conference Seminary, it adopted the name Cornell College and introduced a collegiate program in 1857.
Cornell was the first college west of the Mississippi to grant women the same rights and privileges as men, and, in 1858, to award a degree to a woman. Harriette Cooke, on the faculty from 1857 to 1890, was one of the first women in the nation to be paid a professorial salary equal to that of her male colleagues. Early in its history Cornell also adopted a policy of welcoming students of all religions and races. Its first black graduate, Frank Armstrong, class of 1900, served on Booker T. Washington's staff before going on to a career as a physician in Chicago.
Campus: Cornell is located on a beautiful, wooded hilltop in Mount Vernon, Iowa, just a few blocks from the town's historic main street. There are 44 buildings on 129 acres. Cole Library is also the Mount Vernon public library, making it the only such library in the country.
Cornell is one of three campuses in the country listed entirely on the National Register of Historic Places—it was the first in the nation to be so listed—and the College maintains a longstanding commitment to maintaining its buildings even as it creates newer and more modern facilities. Recent examples include the award-winning renovation of the Thomas Commons in 2014, and the renovation of four first-year residence halls in 2015. Cornell has developed a master plan for continued improvement of facilities.
The President: Jonathan Brand has been president of Cornell College since July 2011. He holds a law degree from Cornell University, a master's degree in French literature from the University of Michigan, and a bachelor's degree in history and French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In his years at Cornell, he’s overseen the renovation of the Thomas Commons and four residence halls, as well as the opening of the McLennan Center in Chicago, the creation of the Center for the Literary Arts, the creation of the Cornell Summer Research Institute, the transition from nine to eight terms a year, and the addition of majors in engineering and business. In addition, he has worked closely with the college’s board of trustees, met with students, faculty, and staff, and traveled extensively to meet Cornell alumni.
Before coming to Cornell, he served as President of Doane College in Crete, Nebraska for six years and as Vice President of Institutional and Budget Planning and Special Assistant and Counsel to the President at Grinnell College for seven years.