Scheinman Institute announces process for nominating members of Presidential Task Force

October 27, 2017

Dear Ithaca Campus Community:

As many of you know, recently Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack announced the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate. Subsequently, President Pollack appointed three Co-Chairs of the Task Force: Lisa Nishii, Associate Professor of Human Resources Studies and Director of the ILR School International Programs, Madelyn Wessel, Esq., University Counsel and Secretary of the Corporation, and David Wooten, Professor of Marketing in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer of the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. The charge of the Task Force involves three areas: Campus Experience, Regulation of Speech and Harassment, and Campus Response.

In her announcement of the Co-Chairs, President Pollack also indicated:

“I have asked the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations to engage with campus stakeholders and recommend to me an appropriate and balanced task force composition, one that ensures that the voices and perspectives of our diverse campus constituencies are represented. With that composition road map as a guide, I will then appoint individuals to serve as task force members.”

The professors and staff of the Institute study, teach, research, and train students campus-wide, and thousands of others throughout the United States annually, about all aspects of conflict resolution.

The Task Force is one aspect of an overall effort to address issues of inclusion and physical and emotional safety of the Cornell community. A priority is to engage broadly so all members of the community have the opportunity to express their viewpoints and be involved in the selection process for members of the Task Force.

The first role for the Institute is to facilitate that the Task Force membership is representative of the Cornell community. We will be responsible for recommending from among those nominated or self-nominated to be Task Force members. Our recommendations will be provided to President Pollack for her determination.

In order to accomplish the goal of seating a group able to voice the concerns and interests spanning the breadth of the Cornell community – graduate and professional students, undergraduate students, faculty, academics, staff, and alumni – and to maximize transparency, the Institute will facilitate six open meetings to discuss the process for selection and the concerns and ideas of interested individuals. Each meeting will be facilitated and mediated by Institute-affiliated individuals (enclosed please find a brief description of the facilitators). These meetings are open to any interested individual and organization and any individual or organization may attend any or all of these sessions. Ithaca community members are also invited. However, to assure all members of the community are heard, certain of the meetings listed below will emphasize a particular segment of the community, e.g., November 3, 2017, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. will emphasize faculty nominations.

After these six meeting are completed, on November 11, 2017, from 10:15 a.m. – 12 p.m., we will have a summative meeting to describe what transpired at the prior six meetings, to provide the last opportunity for input, and to establish the specific timetable for nominations and self-nominations. The summative meeting will be facilitated by Marty Scheinman.

The meeting dates, times, and locations are as follows:

  • Wednesday, November 1, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. (WSH Memorial Room): All-Community Meeting regarding nominations for the President’s Task Force
  • Friday, November 3, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Room 423 in King-Shaw Hall): All-Community Meeting regarding nominations for the President’s Task Force, with emphasis on faculty nominations
  • Monday, November 6, 12 – 1 p.m. (Statler Ballroom): All-Community Meeting regarding nominations for the President’s Task Force, with emphasis on staff nominations
  • Monday, November 6, 5 – 6 p.m. (RPCC Auditorium and 1st floor rooms): All-Community Meeting regarding nominations for the President’s Task Force, with emphasis on undergraduate student nominations
  • Wednesday, November 8, 5 – 6 p.m. (Room 423 in King-Shaw Hall): All-Community Meeting regarding nominations for the President’s Task Force, with emphasis on graduate and professional student nominations
  • Thursday, November 9, 9 – 10 a.m. (Room 423 in King-Shaw Hall): All-Community Meeting regarding nominations for the President’s Task Force
  • Saturday, November 11, 10:15 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Room 105 in Ives Hall) All-Community Meeting for the President’s Task Force, with emphasis on summary of all meetings and presentation of nomination process

Once all nominations have been received, the professionals at the Institute will sort through the nominations and prepare its recommendations for submission to President Pollack. It is the intent that the members of the Task Force will be announced prior to the Thanksgiving break.

Our initial thoughts are that the Task Force will consist of approximately 30-35 individuals divided among the various subcommittees. Given the nature of their work, the size of the subcommittees may differ. Moreover, it is possible that additional members may be added at a later point if any of the committees discovers the need to do so.

A preliminary estimate by the Co-Chairs is that Task Force members would need to be able to attend an in-person meeting approximately once a week. Such meetings will vary. Some will just be for the subcommittee. Others would be for the full committee. Also, other meetings may involve the Task Force with constituencies and organizations necessary to accomplish its charge. Depending upon the subcommittee, members may also be asked to do substantial reading, research, and drafting as part of their responsibilities. Simply stated, for those interested in serving, there will be a need to devote a substantial amount of time to the Task Force.

For interested people not able to devote the time to the Task Force, or who are not selected, the Institute intends to develop an online platform for two-way communications for issues and information germane to the Task Force’s work. The Co-Chairs are determined to provide avenues for interested individuals to participate in this ongoing discussion. Also, the Institute’s professionals shall be available to facilitate and mediate during the Task Force’s deliberations, should the need arise.

To reiterate, the Task Force is just one important element of the conversation we hope to facilitate to address issues vexing our community. There will be no easy or quick fixes. Hard conversations always take time. But Cornell will be better able to incorporate everyone and foster the feeling of belonging, given its willingness to engage in these conversations.

We look forward to seeing and working with you at the community meetings.

Thank you.

Harry C. Katz, Director, Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution
Martin F. Scheinman, Esq. Arbitrator and Mediator


Harry Katz is professor of industrial relations at the ILR School. He is the Director of the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution. He served as Dean of the ILR School from 2005-2014 and then as Interim Provost of Cornell University from November 2014 to August 2015. He teaches and conducts research on collective bargaining and also serves as a member of the UAW’s internal dispute resolution procedure (the UAW Public Review Board).

Martin (“Marty”) Scheinman, BS ’75, MS ’76, JD NYU ’79, has been a full-time neutral arbitrator, mediating, and facilitating over 25,000 employment, labor, community, business, diversity, and governmental disputes over his 40-year career. Marty serves on Cornell’s Board of Trustees and is a Presidential Councillor.

Ariel Avgar is associate professor in the Labor Relations, Law, and History Department at the ILR School. He is also Associate Director for Research and Student Engagement at the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution.

Sally Klingel is the Director of Labor-Management Relations Programming for the Scheinman Institute of Conflict Resolution in Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where she teaches, trains and provides organizational change consulting services to labor and management groups nationwide. She specializes in the design and implementation of conflict and negotiation systems, labor-management partnerships, work redesign, strategic planning and change processes, and leadership development.

Katrina G. Nobles is extension associate and Director of Programs for the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution in the ILR School, facilitating organizational workplace conflicts, designing curriculum, and instructing professional and on-campus programs. In addition to her position at Cornell, Katrina is a facilitator and mediator for DOI, and facilitates cross-cultural dialogues for the Global Nomads Group. Prior to her employment at Cornell, Katrina was the Cortland County Coordinator for New Justice Mediation Services, mediating hundreds of community, child custody/visitation, child support, and family disputes.

Cornell F. Woodson is the Diversity and Inclusion Programs Lead in the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at Cornell. He also serves as an adjunct lecturer in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Ithaca College. Cornell has spent his career facilitating spaces for people to engage in tough dialogue about issues that impact our society.