Social Sciences Update Email to Staff

May 21, 2019

Dear Colleagues,

In March, President Pollack and Provost Kotlikoff shared with you via email the results of a multi-year, faculty-led effort to review the social sciences at Cornell. The reports stemming from this effort outlined a number of recommendations to enhance the university’s excellence in the social sciences over the coming decade.

One idea – the creation of the Cornell Center for Social Sciences – is already underway. The center will be led by Vice Provost Emmanuel Giannelis and help to foster programmatic collaborations. A forthcoming announcement will outline the new center’s organizational structure and resources.

Two longer-term aspirations identified in the reports require further review and broad input: 1) solidifying Cornell’s reputation for excellence in public policy through the creation of an integrating university entity; and 2) developing avenues for connecting disciplinary excellence across colleges through the creation of super-departments in the disciplines of economics, psychology and sociology.

We are co-chairing a new faculty committee — whose members are listed below — which will consider these aspirations and make final recommendations on a path forward by the end of the 2019 calendar year.

A critical part of this process will be input from faculty, staff and students, which we will gather at listening sessions to be scheduled during the Fall 2019 semester. Please look for additional details on these listening sessions at the start of the next academic year.

As a result of these recommendations, some existing structures at Cornell may change in ways that will bolster our combined efforts in the social sciences. While such changes may impact how some work is handled, we want to assure you that we are not seeking and do not anticipate any staff reductions as a result of any such organizational shifts.

We look forward to new and exciting changes to advance the social sciences at Cornell, and to continuing to work with you to make this campus an intellectually vibrant, supportive and inclusive environment in which to work.

Additional information can be found on the Provost’s Review of the Social Sciences at Cornell webpage.


Melissa Ferguson, co-chair
Senior associate dean of social sciences and professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences

Christopher Wildeman, co-chair
Associate vice provost for the social sciences and professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology

John Siliciano, co-chair
Deputy provost

Implementation Committee Members: