Completed Initiatives

Campus Reopening

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, Cornell reopened for the fall 2020 semester with public health as its primary consideration.

After months of planning, including epidemiological studies and development of a high-volume testing lab, the campus reopened with a hybrid approach to a residential semester (with in-person, online, and hybrid teaching modalities), an extensive surveillance testing program, and a revised academic calendar allowing students to return home for Thanksgiving to finish the semester remotely. The reopening plan proved highly successful, thanks to tremendous efforts behind the scenes.

Social Sciences and Public Policy

Aiming to elevate Cornell’s excellence in public policy and foster collaborations among the core social science disciplines, Cornell implemented several related initiatives that will create new opportunities for students and faculty.

The Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, opened in fall 2021, launched with faculty from the Departments of Policy Analysis and Management (College of Human Ecology) and Government (College of Arts and Sciences), along with other policy-engaged scholars from fields across the university. The school includes undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD programs. Building on current faculty expertise, the school’s areas of strength include health policy, international and domestic policy, and sustainability, with a clear mission of public engagement.

Uniting strong programs across our schools and colleges, Cornell has also established new cross-college “super-departments” in psychology and sociology. In both cases, participating faculty are drawn from departments of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and of Human Ecology, with possible additions from other colleges in the future. Further, the super-department in economics has expanded to include economists from policy analysis and management.

The Brooks School and super-departments work with the Cornell Center for Social Sciences, which accelerates, enhances, and amplifies social science research at Cornell by supporting grants and fellowships, facilitating collaboration, and providing necessary research infrastructure.

President’s Visioning Committee: Cornell in New York City

In December 2017, President Pollack established a faculty-led committee to envision how Cornell could strategically grow its presence in New York City in ways that enhance and complement Ithaca campus educational, research, and public engagement programs. The group identified a wide range of creative, aspirational ideas for future growth, with a focus on facilitating cross-campus interactions.

As an outgrowth of the committee’s work, the NYC Visioning grant initiative launched in spring 2019, seeking to provide funding for collaborative, cross-disciplinary pilot projects to expand learning and research opportunities in New York City for Cornell faculty and students. Each project involves faculty members collaborating across two or more colleges, with a focus on extending research and outreach more deeply into NYC and strengthening connections across Cornell’s campuses.

Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate

In September 2017, President Pollack announced the formation of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate, composed of faculty, staff, and students on the Ithaca campus, and charged with making specific recommendations about how Cornell can implement meaningful institutional change that leads to a campus climate that is more diverse and inclusive, and that expresses greater respect and understanding. The Task Force was also charged with recommending approaches that enable the university to respond effectively to incidents of bigotry and intolerance.

The three Task Force subcommittees – focused on Campus Experience; Campus Response; and Regulation of Speech and Harassment – released their final reports in June 2018. The university implemented many of these recommendations, along with additional initiatives to further advance campus climate, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and continues our ongoing, collective work in these areas.