Institutional Initiatives

The university leadership and the Ithaca campus community have collectively identified a number of initiatives and activities focused on creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus. Many were proposed by the Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate and the Provost’s Task Force to Enhance Faculty Diversity, both of which did their work during the 2017-2018 academic year. The table below provides a way of tracking progress on these initiatives. Several of the items listed have been, or are in the process of being addressed. Others will take time to accomplish, and some are aspirational.

We will regularly update this table as progress is made - updates are marked by an asterisk and highlighted in yellow.

Source column:
CC = Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate
FD = Report of the Provost’s Task Force to Enhance Faculty Diversity
O = Other Initiatives


I. Build a culture that values transparency, accountability, and communication around issues of diversity and inclusion.

Source Initiative Status
*CC Clearly identify university-level priorities for diversity and inclusion and provide a mechanism for tracking progress.

Partially Achieved Ongoing in 2019-2020
Revision of diversity and inclusion framework is in process. Rollout to begin Spring 2019. Updates on this and status changes to task force recommendations will be maintained on the university diversity webpage.

CC, FD Require each dean to develop and report on annual school/college diversity and inclusion priorities. Ongoing
This information is collected as part of the provost’s annual reporting process.
CC Reconfigure the central diversity team; make it more strategic; ensure that it has sufficient staffing and funding; has appropriate communication with schools and colleges, including access to diversity analytics; and student input.

Partly Achieved and Ongoing in 2018-2019
The institutional leadership structure to support diversity has been reconfigured and three leaders have been tapped to represent faculty, staff, and students, respectively. Vice Provost Avery August will chair the group and represent faculty. He will be joined by Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Workforce Diversity Angela Winfield (representing staff) and Dean of Students Vijay Pendakur (representing students). These University Diversity Officers will meet regularly with the President’s Cabinet and other members of the institutional leadership.

*CC Review and increase awareness of the bias reporting process and mechanisms for sharing information about bias incidents on campus. Ensure sufficient staffing.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
Improvements were made to the bias reporting form including new protocols for handling reports of bias, expectation matrices for student only, and student and faculty/staff incidents. These have been made available on the Division of Student and Campus Life, Division of Human Resources and Diversity websites. The review process is ongoing. Clarity on the definition of bias and increasing options for reporting will continue to be evaluated.

CC Reassess the pace and cadence of communications around diversity and inclusion, including communicating the public health impacts of racism. Update the website on diversity and inclusion to provide “one-stop” shopping for information about diversity resources.

Scheduled for 2018-2019
A thorough review of communications around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion will be performed this academic year by the office of the Vice President for University Relations, in consultation with the newly restructured University Diversity Officers. As one part of that review, the diversity website, which was updated last year, will be further enhanced along multiple dimensions. Also as part of the review, careful consideration will be given to ensuring how to most effectively reach populations and subpopulations after disturbing incidents, and how to support Resident Advisors and Teaching Assistants (TA) who often are directly involved in the early stages of communication to the community.

CC Conduct a detailed analysis of the information in the diversity scorecard and make changes to it as needed, including adding information from individual units.

Future Years
We will review the current content, metrics and usability of the dashboard and make improvements as identified.

II. Develop visible institutional statements and symbols of our priorities, and policies that are well-aligned with them.

Source Initiative Status
*CC Develop a new campus-wide alternative dispute resolution program.

Partly Achieved and Scheduled for 2018-2019
A new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process is in development through 2019 and has already been used successfully in various circumstances. It engages students in conflict coaching, mediation and restorative justice, specifically around issues of bias. So far, at least 478 student leaders have participated in ADR training workshops.

*CC, FD Establish awards to recognize faculty, staff, and students who contribute in exemplary ways to improving campus climate.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
A number of awards are in place. Examples of awards for faculty, staff, and students include: 
Cook Awards: Honors Cornell students, faculty, and staff members for their commitment to women’s issues and for improving the climate for women at Cornell. Winners to be recognized at Spring event.
Employee Excellence Awards: Including a new “Culture of Belonging” award, recognizes staff who demonstrate inclusivity and diversity in their behavior. 
Perkins Prize: Recognizes the Cornell student, faculty, staff member, or program making the most significant contribution to furthering the ideal of university community while respecting the values of racial diversity. The dean of students is planning a revised student-awards recognition event on April 11, with the Perkins Prize as the top award.
Weiss Awards: Recognizing the importance of undergraduate education, awards faculty for excellence in teaching and mentoring.
In addition, the new Cornell Faculty Fellows for Excellence in Research, Teaching, and Service through Diversity been launched this semester.

CC, FD Develop a statement of the university’s core values.

Scheduled for 2018-2019
During the coming year, we will launch a collaborative process to develop a statement of Cornell’s core values.

CC Make significant changes to the Campus Code of Conduct.

Scheduled for 2018-2019
We are asking the University Assembly to address recommended changes to the campus code, which include:

  • Reworking it to have an educational and aspirational rather than punitive, quasi-criminal tone.
  • Significantly simplifying it and having it use “plain English”;
  • Narrowing its focus to students.
  • Separating standards of behavior from administrative procedures for managing misconduct.
  • Simplifying of administrative procedures.
  • Expanding the treatment of harassment.
  • Permitting enhanced penalties for harassment or assault that are motivated by bias.
  • Considering moving less serious types of misconduct to the Office of the Dean of Students for resolution.
CC Unify adjudication and management of the Greek letter organizations with that of other student groups.

Scheduled for 2018-2019
The Division of Student and Campus Life is currently conducting an extensive review of Greek organization judicial processes.

III. Provide diversity education to all stakeholders.

Source Initiative Status
CC Expand access to Intergroup Dialogue Project, including mandatory sessions at new student orientation.

Achieved Summer 2018
Beginning with this year’s Class of 2022, all incoming first-year students will participate in a three-hour Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP) session during New Student Orientation.

CC Provide visible support of diversity education by university leadership.

Achieved Summer 2018 and Ongoing
As examples:

  • The president provided funding for the new Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP) sessions at New Student Orientation, and met with the IDP leaders.
  • The president and the provost have videotaped introductions to the new online course, Teaching and Learning in Diverse Classrooms.
  • The Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity has recently revamped its Inclusive Excellence Network of programs for staff across campus.
*CC Increase faculty awareness and provide education that leads to a more supportive learning environment and greater knowledge of available campus resources.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
A new, four-week, self-paced online course, “Teaching and Learning in the Diverse Classroom” was offered through the Center for Teaching Innovation during the fall 2018 semester for anyone with teaching responsibilities at Cornell, at any level of diversity expertise. The course, which will be offered again starting in March, is incorporating input based on the assessment data, including offering more opportunities for participants to meet face to face, and adding CITE (Cornell Interactive Theater Ensemble) to the curriculum.

CC Guarantee that all teaching assistants receive structured orientation prior to starting their teaching

Partially Achieved and Scheduled for 2018-2019
We are engaged in continual review of teaching assistant training programs. We will work toward this goal over the coming year as we review the training programs and seek ways to incorporate additional recommendations outlined by the task force, including use of the new online course described above.

*CC Provide mandatory Intergroup Dialogue training to students in key positions of influence.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
Intergroup Dialogue (IDP) sessions were part of freshman orientation at the start of the fall 2018 semester as well for incoming and transfer students at the start of the spring 2019 semester. IDP has been provided to a number of student groups since the spring 2018 semester and is being expanded to other groups, including Greek organizations. Enhancements being considered include spending more time in small group activities, shorter sessions, tweaking time slots to avoid evenings and Saturdays, mixing students from different schools and colleges in groups and embedding IDP into colleges’ first-year advising colloquia to extend beyond orientation.

*CC Provide proactive training for staff on climate issues.

Achieved and Ongoing
The Division of Human Resources offers a range of training programs on relevant issues for staff. These include diversity and inclusion training programs, the Inclusive Excellence Academy, and podcasts aligned with the staff strategic plan. Human Resources is working with adding CITE (Cornell Interactive Theater Ensemble) to create training on behavioral change opportunities and skill-based training.

CC Establish a student leadership development program that features diversity and inclusion training and opportunity for certification.

Future Years
We will work to identify resources and determine the level of interest.

IV. Increase faculty diversity and foster faculty commitment to diversity.

Source Initiative Status
FD Ensure a culture in which retention efforts are continuous, starting at the time of a faculty member’s hire.

The Office of Faculty Development and Diversity sponsors multiple mentoring programs, including networking lunches and peer mentoring grants. In addition, the reorganized university diversity office will work with departments and colleges to establish consistent and proactive retention processes.

*FD Offer implicit bias training to faculty search committees and for search committees for senior leadership appointments.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
Available funding for the recruitment of diverse candidates has been increased and as of November, bias training is mandatory for all faculty search committees to obtain access to the funding. In addition, the Office of Faculty Development & Diversity (OFDD) has provided resources to assist with diverse faculty recruitment.

FD Increase support from the provost for faculty hires that advance diversity.

Achieved Summer 2018
The provost announced an enhanced program that will triple central support for faculty that advance diversity.

*CC, FD Require diversity and inclusion statements for candidates for tenure and tenure-track positions; candidates for senior leadership appointments; and as part of faculty annual reviews and tenure dossiers.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
This policy has been in effect since August 2018.

*FD Establish a Presidential New Faculty Fellows Program.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
Provost Michael Kotlikoff has announced increases in spending to enhance the recruitment of diverse faculty and provide ongoing retention support. The additional funding will bring total spending toward recruiting and retaining diverse faculty to more than $60 million during the next five years. The Presidential New Faculty Fellows Program is in place and will be administered by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity.

CC Convene a panel of experts to assess the teaching evaluations currently used across our colleges and recommend revisions.

Future Years
The provost will work with the dean of the faculty and the Faculty Senate to further explore this recommendation.

FD Host a faculty diversity summit to expose potential faculty applicants to Cornell.

Future Years
The provost will work with the dean of the faculty and the Faculty Senate to explore this recommendation.

V. Enhance the student experience to support social belonging and wellness

[Note: Some of the initiatives here are also directly relevant to staff and faculty experience of belonging.]

Source Initiative Status
*CC Engage students in a space study of their residence halls and in generating ideas for how best to use common spaces to facilitate a more welcoming and interactive community.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
New or renovated physical spaces include community areas. Planning for new North Campus residence halls has included close collaboration with the Residential Student Congress as well as open focus groups for students. Similar sessions will be held for future renovations as they take shape.

CC Establish a religious advisory committee to promote education about religious diversity and provide guidelines to faculty about religious accommodations for students.

Cornell United Religious Work (CURW) comprises over 25 affiliated communities, and offers both programs of worship and interfaith dialogue that supports understanding of religious diversity.

The dean of the faculty sends out periodic reminders to faculty about providing accommodations to students for religious observances. Similarly, leaders from CURW will attend an upcoming Faculty Senate meeting focused on providing student accommodations.

To create and maintain an inclusive and respectful workplace for all employees regardless of religious belief or non-belief, at the start of each academic year the Office of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity sends a message to all deans, directors and department supervisors outlining guidelines and best practices for staff and faculty.

*CC Clarify expectations for advisors of student organizations.

Achieved Spring 2019
An updated Club Advisor website has been launched clarifying advisor expectations and adding a statement on harassment, discrimination and bias policies and procedures, with a link to reporting.

CC Create a mechanism to address student concerns about physical safety.

Achieved Fall 2018
The Rave Guardian App was made available for free to all university members.

O Hire a full-time advisor for DACA and undocumented students.

Achieved Spring 2018
The Office of the Dean of Students has created the Office of Undocumented/DACA Student Support. The new unit works closely with various offices to strengthen campus connections for undocumented/DACA students, lead campus awareness workshops for faculty, staff and students and supports student needs, programming and initiatives for undocumented/DACA students and students from mixed-status families.

*O Create a First-Generation/Low Income Student Resource Center

Achieved Summer 2018 and Ongoing
A new program, recently announced by the First-Generation Low-Income (FGLI) unit, will serve to provide resources and eliminate barriers for first-generation students. The Kessler Scholars Program will provide broad support to 20 incoming first-generation students each year who have demonstrated a record of academic excellence and are motivated to improve the world through community engaged service. This program is expected to grow over the next four years to support approximately 80 students/year, selected from all seven undergraduate colleges at Cornell.

CC Offer “pop-up” counseling services to support students at various locations across campus after difficult incidents. Ensure that there is sufficient staff for these and related Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) outreach efforts.

Achieved Summer 2018
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has hired additional staff to support expanded “Let’s Talk” hours and sites, which will be monitored and adjusted throughout the year. CAPS staff will also be available to support specific communities and locations that are impacted by campus incidents.

CC Provide exceptional care and counseling services that meet the needs and are reflective of Cornell’s diverse student population.

Achieved 2017-2018 and Ongoing
Last academic year, Cornell Health embarked on multiple national searches, increasing the number of therapists available to students. The searches were successful in recruiting talented therapists with experience supporting a diverse student community. As future searches occur, Cornell Health will continue to prioritize care that recognizes our diverse community.

*O Created a new housing option for LGBTQ students.

Achieved Fall 2018
The LGBTQ+ Living Learning Unit, also known as Loving House, will be housed in Mews Hall on North Campus beginning in fall 2019. Loving House was created to help foster a safe and supportive environment for student of all identities. Applications for the 33 spots exceeded capacity but Loving House will include programming to address issues within the LGBTQ+ community for students both in house and from the broader university community.

CC Identify obstacles to participation in international learning opportunities and address them.

Partly Achieved and Ongoing
The vice provost for international affairs is focused on ensuring meaningful international learning activities for all students who seek them, including identifying financial support, e.g., through philanthropy, to broaden participation.

We will develop ways of ensuring that more students know about existing resources.

*O Expand the Active Learning Initiative (ALI) across campus.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
Early evidence from the Active Learning Initiative piloted in the College of Arts and Sciences suggests the initiative enhanced student satisfaction and reduced and even eliminated the performance gap in the student community. With a generous grant from a donor funding for new ALI projects are now available campus-wide. The ALI grantees for the spring 2019 semester will be announced at the end of January.

CC Require each Greek chapter to provide full transparency about their organization’s dues prior to the start of recruitment.

Scheduled for 2018-2019
A comprehensive scorecard for all Greek organizations that includes costs and behavioral history will be posted publicly online in fall 2018.

CC Rewrite student activities funding commission. As part of such funding, provide grants to intellectual programming. for student organizations and social events.

Scheduled for 2018-2019
We will ask the Student Assembly to consider this, with support from the Division of Student and Campus Life.

CC Require student organizations that use an application process for admission to abide by best practices guidelines for managing their recruiting processes.

Scheduled for 2018-2019
We will ask the Student Assembly to consider this, with support from the Division of Student and Campus Life.


Reinvigorate the executive disability steering committee.

(**also relevant to faculty and staff)

Future Years
After the recruitment and arrival of a new director of Student Disability Services is complete, this committee will be reinvigorated, no later than the 2019-2020 academic year.


Raise awareness of health and wellness services offered to students, faculty, and staff.

(**also relevant to faculty and staff)

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
A new campaign, produced with recommendations from students, was launched during the fall 2018 semester to highlight all mental health support using posters, a website and social media.

*CC Encourage departments to post research positions through the Student Experience platform, and identify obstacles to faculty doing so.

Achieved Fall 2018 and Ongoing
The first part of the Student Experience Initiative platform is live and continues to grow. The platform includes information about research positions and opportunities. In December, the Student Experience Initiative was selected as one of 50 winners of the 2019 Digital Edge 50 Awards.

CC Institute a diversity course requirement for every undergraduate.

Future Years
Curricular requirements are the prerogative of the faculty. This recommendation has been conveyed to the Dean of the Faculty, for discussion within the Faculty Senate and each of the colleges and schools.

In addition, outside of the formal curriculum, beginning with this year’s Class of 2022, all incoming first-year students will participate in a three-hour Intergroup Dialogue Project session during New Student Orientation.

O Conduct a comprehensive review of student mental health.

Future Years
Cornell Health will work with the campus community during the fall 2018 semester to determine the appropriate scope for a comprehensive review of student mental health at Cornell, anticipating that such a review could potentially begin in early 2019.

CC Seek donor support to establish a university-wide internship grant program to make volunteer and low-paying internships financially accessible to students from lower-income backgrounds.

Ongoing and Aspirational
Support of all kinds for low-income students is a priority and will continue to be in our fundraising efforts. This past year, for example, we received one substantial gift that has enabled the creation of our First-Generation and Low-Income student support unit in the dean of students office, and a meaningful portion of those resources are being dedicated to unexpected expenses for these populations.

CC Provide space for the multicultural Greek chapters to live in and/or use for programming.

Ongoing and Aspirational
Upon the conclusion of the North Campus Residential Expansion, living options for multicultural Greek chapters will be explored directly with the leaders of Multicultural Greek Letter Council.

CC Create more gender-neutral bathrooms.

Ongoing and Aspirational
There are building codes and requirements that make restroom conversions more complicated than a simple change of signage, so it will take time and significant resources to fully address the request. However, as Cornell renovates existing buildings and constructs new ones, we consider the needs for single occupant restrooms and incorporate them, whenever feasible.

VI. Create more opportunities for intergroup interaction

Source Initiative Status
CC, O Provide an engaged learning opportunity to all students, including to cohorts from residential halls.

The Engaged Cornell program provides engaged learning opportunities to all students, and we will continue to offer its programs.

The new Equity and Engagement Living Learning Community is a recent example of providing such opportunities in a residential hall. Just opened this semester, it will offer a variety of programs, discussions, and training opportunities on topics such as race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability status and religion to engage it residents and the campus community in dialogue grounded in social justice principles.

CC Sponsor more events that are open to and celebrate the entire Cornell community and what is distinctive about it.

Future Years
We will consider meaningful—and fun—events that can engage the campus.

CC Create a multicultural student center.

We have identified a potential location and initiated a funding strategy for this proposal.

CC Create a disability cultural resource center. Aspirational

VII. Recruit and retain a diverse staff workforce

Source Initiative Status
*CC Ensure that staff evaluation procedures serve as a mechanism to provide feedback about workplace climate.

Achieved and Ongoing
The Division of Human Resources has been advancing “pulse” surveys to assess climate in workplaces throughout campus, and the Office of Organizational Development and Talent Management assists units in understanding and addressing emerging issues. Tools to assess and address workplace climate include staff surveys, are also being used campus-wide and in many units, and Human Resources will continue to review additional means for staff to provide anonymous feedback. 

CC Develop a network for student services staff that supports professional development activities and networking.

Achieved Summer 2018 and Ongoing
We held an inaugural Student Professionals Network meeting in August 2018 with student-facing staff from across campus. These meetings will occur once per semester moving forward.

CC Adopt a more purposeful and attentive approach to onboarding newly hired employees.

Achieved Summer 2018
Improvements to the onboarding experience have been made that create a more employee-centered experience built around a set of core priorities (click on “Belonging” for details).

*CC Involve employees in efforts to enhance workforce diversity.

Partly Achieved and Ongoing
The Division of Human Resources is engaging with members of the Colleague Network Groups, a platform for senior leadership to connect with marginalized communities, in planning and executing diversity and inclusion strategies. The CNGs operate based upon four principles or pillars: Give, Engage, Achieve, Recruit (GEAR). Planning is underway to development a Recruitment Ambassador program through which CNG members are trained to be an ambassador for Cornell at industry events where they may identify and engage talented potential university employees. 

*CC Further support staff professional development

Achieved Spring 2019 and Ongoing
New online supervisory training, Supervising@Cornell, is available. These courses will offer ongoing learning for supervisors and provide access to the latest developments in policy, technology, and programming at Cornell to best support staff and supervisory responsibilities. Another new offering, the Appreciation Portal allows supervisors and colleagues to send kudos to others in real time. Professional development and staff support opportunities are promoted via weekly newsletter.

CC Provide opportunities for members of the Colleague Network Groups to directly interact with university leadership.

Scheduled for 2018-2019
The leaders of the Colleague Network Groups are meeting with the vice president and chief human resource officer, and the director of inclusion and workforce diversity to advance these conversations.


Create a housing task force to develop a range of possible solutions for improving the availability of housing options for diverse staff.

(**also relevant to faculty)

Staff from the Divisions of Human Resources and Facilities and Campus Services are assessing workforce housing needs, with plans to propose potential long-term solutions.

VIII. Partner with the surrounding community on issues of diversity and inclusion

Source Initiative Status
CC Create incentives that will help to support and increase the number of minority-owned businesses in the Ithaca area.

As part of the Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion, Procurement Services and the Johnson School Big Red Consulting provide consulting services annually to a select number of women or minority owned vendors to help them improve their businesses.

CC Launch a partnership with other large employers in Ithaca/Tompkins County to develop shared solutions for creating a vibrant living community that appeals to diverse populations.

While we do not yet have such a partnership, we convene and participate in the Local Leaders of Color group, which brings together leaders of Ithaca and Tompkins County to discuss relevant community issues and to share plans and ideas.

* Progress updates