These guidelines are reviewed periodically by the Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations.


Cornell University desires that the most highly qualified and dedicated individuals serve as alumni trustees of the university. Many who might be superb trustees are financially unable and/or do not desire to engage in campaigning. It is for these reasons as well as having candidates considered solely on their merits, that Cornell prohibits campaign activity of any kind by or on behalf of any candidate. Campaigning includes, but is not restricted to, soliciting endorsements of one’s candidacy, written or oral contact with alumni about one’s candidacy, statements to the press, advertising, posts on social media and other networking technologies, press releases, etc. If publishers of college, unit, class, or club newsletters, e-mails, social media posts, or their like wish to print any candidate information, they must give the same information in the same space for all candidates in that election. Alumni are prohibited from contacting candidates to ask questions or engage in conversation relating to the election. Questions should be directed to Alumni Affairs. Candidates, whether endorsed by CATN or not, will be asked to sign an agreement that reflects the anti-campaigning policy in this paragraph. Failure to sign the agreement may result in elimination from the ballot. Unendorsed candidates are prohibited from campaigning upon the petition closing date through closing of the election. Campaigning for write-in candidates is also prohibited.

Alumnus/Alumna Eligibility

An alumnus or alumna of Cornell University is someone who has matriculated at the university. All alumni may vote in the annual alumni trustee election. In order to be eligible to be on the ballot as an endorsed or unendorsed candidate, an alumnus/a must have attended the university for a minimum of one year at one of the Cornell University campuses and meet the other points of eligibility (as outlined below). Current Cornell University students are not eligible to run on the alumni-elected trustee ballot. A two-year hiatus is required for any CATN member/leader prior to being considered for the ballot.

Endorsed Candidate

A nominee placed on the ballot through the CATN process of nomination and review.

Unendorsed Candidate

A nominee placed on the ballot through self-nomination and petitioning Cornell alumni for signatures. An unendorsed candidate (an alumnus/a as defined above, who has not been nominated and endorsed by the CATN) must complete a candidate registration form and submit a nomination petition with signatures from at least 400 alumni. Signatures may be gathered once the open nomination period closes and must be submitted by the petition closing date. The closing date for filing the petition with Alumni Affairs is one month prior to the first CATN meeting. If more than four unendorsed candidates submit petitions with at least 400 alumni signatures, the four unendorsed candidates with the greatest number of valid signatures will appear on the ballot. Unendorsed candidates must register their candidacy with Alumni Affairs and submit a petition that includes the first and last name of the alumnus/a, the last name of the alumnus/a when a student, the class year and NetID of the alumnus/a, email address and physical mailing address of the alumnus/a, and their signature. Petitions must be conducted through a platform provided by Cornell that supports signature collection. Submissions will be validated by Alumni Affairs and signatures will be rejected if they are lacking any of the required fields on the petition form or if no alumni record can be found. Please contact Alumni Affairs at to register as a prospective candidate in accordance with the below timeline.

2025 Election deadlines are following:

  • July 1, 2023-June 2, 2024: Open nomination period for Committee on Alumni Trustee Nominations (CATN) consideration
  • June 3, 2024, 9:00 a.m. EDT: Petition opening date for unendorsed candidates
  • July 31, 2024, 5:00 p.m. EDT: Petition closing date for unendorsed candidates

Candidate Obligations

All candidates, endorsed and unendorsed, are bound by the rules of the election, including the campaigning policy and must meet eligibility guidelines. Candidates will be required to complete a Conflict of Interest and Commitment form to be filed with Cornell’s Secretary of the Corporation.

Unsuccessful Candidates

Unsuccessful endorsed candidates who have been on the ballot in the past can be re-nominated, but must have a one-year hiatus prior to being placed on the ballot again. CATN shall not take into consideration that a candidate was unsuccessful in a previous election in determining whether to endorse the candidate. An unsuccessful unendorsed candidate must also wait a year before petitioning to be on the ballot again.

Number of Candidates

There may be no more than four endorsed candidates, and no more than four unendorsed candidates on the ballot in any election cycle.


The ballot will list each candidate on the ballot in an identical manner and format. Endorsed and unendorsed candidates will be identified as such on the ballot.

Vote for Two Candidates

In order to prevent bullet voting, which could be perceived as benefitting one candidate over another, all voters are required to vote for two of the candidates on the ballot. Voters also have the option of adding a “write-in” candidate to the ballot in place of voting for a candidate already listed. Campaigning for write-in candidates is prohibited. (NOTE: Bullet voting is the practice of choosing just one candidate despite the ability to choose or rank more. The practice of bullet voting leads to the same outcome as plurality voting, since plurality voting restricts voters to choosing one candidate. – The Center for Election Science)

Publishing Results

In early 2014, President Skorton charged the Task Force on Alumni Trustee Elections to consider the issue of transparency as it relates to the alumni trustee election. After research and deliberation, the task force made recommendations to increase transparency in a variety of ways, but did not agree that there was benefit in publishing the number of votes each candidate receives. For further details, see the Report of the Task Force on Alumni Trustee Elections.