Start of the Year Assembly

Join the Cornell College community as we kick off the start of the year with an Opening Assembly.  Returning to our roots of gathering together on an occasional basis, President Brand will welcome the campus and RJ Holmes-Leopold ’99 will share about his campus experience.  Please join us at 9:00 on Monday morning in King Chapel for a brief gathering before we begin classes.

Are you committing word crimes?

Let’s be honest.  I’m getting old.  I’ve been to my share of college reunions — I even attended a reunion for my PhD program this summer.  When did that happen?!  Even worse, I find myself remembering less and less about some of my undergraduate classroom experiences.  Despite that, I do have lots of vivid memories of writing.  Some of them are even being created this month as I work on my comprehensive exams for my doctoral degree.  Every night as I leave work, I find myself going home and typing on a computer, looking up sources, analyzing data, using all of the skills that I learned in my undergraduate courses to make sure I am writing with sentence variation, that my writing is pithy (look up that word, it’ll impress your faculty), and following APA style.


This summer, Weird Al performed in Cedar Rapids.  I have no doubt there were a fair number of faculty and staff from Cornell in attendance.


That’s write right.  We sometimes get a little nerdy about grammar at Cornell College.  In fact, sometimes we’re downright punny.  Okay, enough of that.


Beyond the number of times a student walks into my office and points out a spelling error, the times a co-worker edits something I write, or feedback is provided, my time working on my undergraduate and master’s degree helped me to develop a new sense of seeking out feedback on my writing.  Whether it’s a friend reading a paper and providing feedback or someone reading this blog post, I often seek feedback to double check my information, make sure I am making sense, or that I have a strong thesis statement.

As an undergrad I quickly developed the habit of using the writing studio and others.  When I was in graduate school, after receiving feedback from a faculty member, I would proof all of his papers.  Last year I found myself editing a student’s grad school essay over and over and then a couple of more times.

For current students, I hope you have found a writing partner and you use the Madgetta Dungy Writing Studio with some frequency.  For incoming students, know that between second and sixth block, you’ll be signing up for a writing-intensive course to work on your writing skills and learn more about the resources available on campus.  I know there will be students posting about their writing class experience in the future, but for now, I wanted to give my two cents.  If you go looking for the Writing Studio this summer, know that it has moved within Cole Library and is now located on the 3rd floor (Ped Mall level).

Don’t be afraid to practice writing, giving feedback, and receiving feedback on your writing.  Start a blog (or write a post or two for this one!).  Write in a journal.  Write fan fic(tion).  Heck, write facebook posts and tweets.  Caption your Instagram photos and don’t be surprised when someone points out a typo.  Find yourself basing friendship through your affinity for the Oxford comma (look that one up, too).  Take the next four weeks to start working in these areas.

We’ll help you find your resources on campus, but start thinking about your writing partners, too.  Who knows, you might even find yourself editing papers for a friend all throughout your life.  Our hope at Cornell is that you are prepared to think critically about your own writing and communicate effectively through writing and other means.  We’re in this together.

Purple Wednesday

Last Wednesday, staff from around campus gathered to hear about the changes that had happened throughout campus over the summer.  We learned about the incoming class, facilities improvements, over one hundred new wifi access points throughout campus (over half in the residence halls), and met new staff members.  When scanning the room, it was a sea of purple.

Walking around the campus on Wednesdays, you have likely seen administrators wearing purple.  If you  haven’t, pay attention when you return to campus and on any given Wednesday and you’ll be surprised at all of the folks wearing purple.  Why?  Well, to slightly adjust Karen Smith’s fine words from Mean Girls, “On Wednesdays we wear purple.”  It’s a way to show a little campus pride, unite together, and demonstrate that we are a single community.

This year, on some Wednesdays you’ll notice alternative transportation to classes for folks wearing purple.  You might need to help answer some questions along the way, so be ready to share your Cornell spirit and knowledge.  You might see guests from the community, including Police Chief Doug Shannon.

We’ll see you Wednesday in your finest purple attire.

Register to Vote

Just because you’re in college, and possibly far away from your hometown, doesn’t mean you can’t exercise your right to vote. With the General Elections happening across the country this fall, we figured it would be helpful to provide information for how you can vote while you’re here. Because it is only legal to vote in one U.S. state, you have two options:

1. Vote here in Mount Vernon in the local and Iowa elections. More info about registering can be found here

2. If you choose to vote in elections as a resident of your home state, but are unable to drop everything and return home to vote, absentee balloting makes it all easier for you. You just have to be on top with registering and requesting a ballot be sent to you, sometimes several months ahead of an election (depending on the state).

Each state has different requirements and deadlines. Here’s a resource that specifies absentee voting rules for each state.

Don’t know when elections are, or not sure you’re going to be able to keep track? Sign up for automated emails from sites like