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60 Years Later: Longest Serving Professor at Cornell Reflects on Journey Through Academia

Cornell’s longest-serving professor, Prof. Anil Nerode, mathematics, first journeyed to Ithaca in 1959. Sixty years later, he shared his story of what drew him to Cornell and what inspired him to stay.

An ever-changing institution, Cornell saw the course of numerous historical events throughout Nerode’s time at the university — spanning an array of national-scale events, including the Vietnam protests and the Cold War to the Willard Straight Hall Takeover.

Nerode also witnessed the founding of a diverse range of majors, such as Asian American, Near Eastern and American Indian and Indigenous Studies, among others, all of which were instrumental in improving Cornell’s diversity, he told The Sun. Nerode also saw the founding of the Women’s Resource Center and Student Disability Services in addition to various additional cultural housing options.

While at Cornell, Nerode co-launched the Department of Computer Science in 1965. In the mathematics department, he served as its chair from 1982 to 1987 and has advised generations of Ph.D. students. He also served as the director of the Mathematical Science Institute.

Throughout his 60-year tenure at Cornell, Nerode has borne witness to considerable changes in Cornell’s appearance and how it operates. “The buildings were more separated and it was extremely attractive to have all the empty space around the buildings,” he said.

Administratively, Nerode believes that Cornell has experienced the same changes that every other major university encounters. Nerode remarked on the increased support for students and government involvement in the form of research grants and regulations that arose during his tenure at Cornell. […]

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