Cornell College is a private, coeducational liberal arts institution located in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Established in 1853, the school was originally called the Iowa Conference Seminary and was founded by George Bryant Bowman, a Methodist minister from North Carolina. Founded for the purpose of providing more advanced educational opportunities for the children of the citizens of Mount Vernon, the College was renamed Cornell College in 1857 in honor of William Wesley Cornell, a devout Methodist and prosperous merchant who was also a distant cousin of Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University. Progressive for its time, Cornell College was the first college west of the Mississippi River which freely granted women the same educational opportunities as men – the first degree Cornell College granted to a woman was awarded in 1858.
Academic ProgramsCornell College’s mission statement declares the institution’s intention to offer “an innovative and rigorous learning community where faculty and staff collaborate with students to develop the intellectual curiosity, creativity, and moral courage necessary for a lifetime of learning and engaged citizenship.” In 1978, Cornell College adopted the” One Course At A Time” curriculum which dramatically changed the way faculty taught and students learned. According to this curriculum, Cornell College follows a calendar in which students devote themselves to a single subject for a three-and-a-half-week-long course terms.
Cornell College is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and has been so since 1913. More than 40 academic majors and a number of pre-professional programs are offered by the College, including the option for students to design their own major. In the past, individualized majors designed by students under the guidance of their faculty advisors have included Environmental Chemistry, Drama/Art Therapy, Integrative Physiology and Psychology, Grassroots Economics and Entrepreneurship in Developing Nations, Persuasive Economics in the Community, and Political Economy. Cornell College also offers several cooperative programs in which students spend three years at Cornell followed by two years at a partner institution where they complete their program.
Student LifeCornell College has a total enrollment figure of over 1,000, all of whom are undergraduate students. More than 90% of students choose to live on campus and because most students are from beyond Iowa, many stay on-campus through the weekends. Cornell College’s student housing is divided between first-class students and upperclassmen; first-year students share a floor with other first-year students, which helps to create an instant connection and support group.
The Thomas Commons serve as Cornell’s Town Square, and is always buzzing with student activity. Cornell College is home to dozens of active student groups and boasts its own unique and varied set of campus traditions. One such tradition includes The Rock, a 5,000-pound granite boulder which, since arriving on campus in the late 1880s, has been relocated, painted, burned, buried and more – today, the Rock is “fair game” to anyone who comes by with a can of paint. An NCAA Division III school, College sports also play a big role in the life of the campus. Cornell College’s varsity athletic teams currently participate in the Midwest Conference.