There is a lot of fanfare surrounding the competition and opening of Cornell’s newest Ithaca campus building, Klarman Hall.
The building is encased in glass and attached to the historical Goldwin Smith Hall on central campus. According to a report in the Cornell Chronicle, the new building will house the Departments of Romance Studies and Comparative Literature and the college’s Academic Advising and Admissions office. It features a 330-seat auditorium, 120 academic spaces, and a 7,770-square foot atrium.
The purpose of the new building is to bring the University’s humanities departments into one space, the combined Goldwin Smith and Klarman Halls.
Last semester, notably, a letter leaked to The Cornell Review revealed humanities department chairs were disturbed with what they perceived as an affront against the humanities on college campuses nationally and at Cornell. The letter also criticized the College of Arts and Sciences’ attempt to hire “underrepresented” faculty “in some area of the humanities or qualitative social sciences.”
Klarman Hall cost $61 million and was paid for by philanthropy according to the Chronicle. One might guess that the lion’s share of that amount was courtesy of Seth Klarman, Class of 1979.
Mr. Klarman is a distinguished and laudatory alum, but tends to keep a low profile. This might be the reason why his name isn’t mentioned in the Chronicle report (or in the Cornell Sun report), or it might be because, almost certainly, the majority of Cornell students and faculty would not be too happy to know more about the namesake of Klarman Hall.
Why? Because he is a capitalist, pro-Israel Republican donor—the embodiment of everything the campus far-left, and even many of the “moderate” left, detests. Look no further than to Cornell professors saying hiring republicans would decrease faculty quality, or to the Student Assembly’s flirtation with passing a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolution that would have asked the University president to divest all investments from Israeli companies and companies doing business in Israel. And what is a Cornell student protest without a call for the end of capitalism?
For those unaware, Seth Klarman is a billionaire hedge fund manager, founder of the Baupost Group. Once the largest hedge fund in the world, the Baupost Group had nearly $30 billion in assets under management at the end of 2013, and at the beginning of this year Klarman’s personal net worth stood at $1.38 billion, according to Forbes.
Klarman is a big donor to Republicans candidates and political funds, though he has stated he doesn’t completely agree with any political party. So far this year, Klarman has donated $330,700 to Republicans, including Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. In 2014, he donated over $3 million, the majority going to Republicans.
Klarman is also a key investor behind the Times of Israel which seeks to provide balanced coverage of Israel amidst a sea of global coverage which is predominantly negative and anti-Israel. Klarman is also involved in many Jewish and pro-Israel charities and organizations, and co-chaired The David Project, whose mission is “to positively shape campus opinion on Israel by educating, training, and empowering student leaders to be thoughtful, strategic and persuasive advocates.”
Pointing all this out serves no other purpose than to illuminate to the Cornell community the gracious man behind the campus’s newest, highly exalted building—a man who full name and background is never mentioned in conjunction with it.
As for most students and faculty, they will enjoy the building which dons Klarman’s name but will continue to detest everything he is and stands for.