Close-up of a plaque engraved with the Cornell University motto.
A Commitment to Equity

Beyond “… any person … any study”

The College of Arts & Sciences embodies Cornell University’s founding principle:

I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.

- Ezra Cornell, 1868

But a diverse student body and a breadth of academic pathways is not enough – all students also need to feel valued, respected, heard, intellectually challenged and encouraged to grow once they arrive at Cornell. This requires a commitment to an equitable and just institution that encompasses our entire community of students, faculty and staff. Here are some of the ways we express our commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and justice.

University Initiatives

University initiatives

We embrace Cornell University’s core values and we are committed to the institutional initiatives put forth by the university’s Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate and the Provost’s Task Force to Enhance Faculty Diversity. The eight main tenets of this plan feature changes in culture, policies and priorities; a commitment to increasing the diversity of the university’s faculty and staff; and a promise to enhance the student experience to support social belonging and wellness.

The College of Arts & Sciences is also actively involved in Belonging at Cornell, an institutional framework designed to track measurable progress toward making Cornell a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. Metrics included in this framework are based on a sense of belongingfairness, a net promotor scoreturnover rates and proportionate hiring rates.

Curriculum

A curriculum that emphasizes culture, language, social difference & global citizenship

Beginning in Fall 2020, all incoming Arts & Sciences students will take part in a new curriculum focused on exploration of humanity’s wide diversity of knowledge and culture. Changes to the curriculum include new distribution requirements of social difference and global citizenship, as well as a continued commitment to culture and language.

All of our departments in the humanities and social sciences offer courses that are specifically designed to meet these requirements, as well as diversity requirements in the curricula of other colleges and schools at Cornell. Here are a few examples:

Academic programs dedicated to the study of identity

Arts & Sciences is home to most of the academic programs at Cornell that focus on the study of class, race, ethnicity, indigeneity, nationality, language, religion, gender, sexuality, and ability.

Our college is home to the first Africana studies program in the country, as well as the first women’s studies program and the first Asian-American studies program in the Ivy League.

The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program is housed in CALS; however, Arts & Sciences faculty teach in the program and our students can take courses or minor in AIISP. A&S students can also take courses through the Disability Studies Program in the ILR School.

Enhanced Opportunities

Enhanced opportunities & funding for historically underrepresented students

The college is committed to developing and supporting its myriad programs that provide enhanced academic opportunities for historically underrepresented and first-generation students.

Posse Scholars at a reception
Robert Barker The Posse Foundation founded the Posse program in 1989 to identify students from urban high schools with great academic and leadership potential who might have been overlooked by traditional college selection processes.

Get a head start on college by taking summer classes taught by Cornell faculty

Students in the Pre-Collegiate Summer Scholars Program walking past the Physical Sciences Building

The Pre-Collegiate Summer Scholars Program (PSSP) helps to prepare around 200 incoming first-year students, across the undergraduate colleges, for their first semester at Cornell University. During the program, PSSP provides the opportunity for students to engage in academic courses, connect with campus resources, while establishing a community with their peers. Students interact with faculty, staff, and their peers throughout the program.

Scholars are required to take courses and participate in weekly college activities that let students connect with offices and faculty across campus.  Courses for each student will be selected based on academic interests and information provided in a scholar’s Cornell application. Each Arts & Sciences PSSP participant will be assigned an advising dean and a program assistant, an undergraduate mentor that helps students navigate PSSP and Cornell. Additionally, scholars will be required to live on-campus for the duration of the program.  Students will be living in a residence hall on campus and have access to dining halls, libraries, laundry room, and study spaces.  All tuition, fees, room, and board charges are covered by Cornell. 

Click here for more details on the PSSP program.

Faculty at the Forefront

Faculty at the forefront

Across our departments and programs, faculty members are leading their fields in research on diversity, equity and justice. Our community benefits from their knowledge and expertise.

Jamila Michener, Associate Professor of Government and Co-Director of the Cornell Center for Health Equity, discusses the Affordable Care Act through the lenses of race and politics.

Related faculty research, scholarship and creative works

Faculty Diversity and Equity Committee 

The faculty-elected Diversity and Equity Committee seeks to identify areas in which equity and diversity require specific consideration to bring to the attention of the Dean.

These areas include hiring and retaining a diverse faculty; ensuring continued efforts to maintain an inclusive environment in departments, classrooms and extra-curricular activities; promoting equitable assessments, support and recognition of under-represented minority faculty; ensuring that faculty find relevant information and help on these issues; and that faculty-generated initiatives on diversity and equity get the attention they deserve from different programs and administrative units in the College to implement them. 

Professor Term Discipline

Ananda Cohen-Aponte, Associate Professor, History of Art

07/22 - 06/25

Humanities

Caroline Levine, David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities

07/22-06/25

Humanities

Laurent Saloff-Coste, Professor, Mathematics

07/20 - 06/23

Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Robert Thorne, Professor, Physics

07/22 - 06/25

Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Kendra Bischoff, Associate Professor, Sociology

07/20 - 06/23

Social Sciences

Jamila Michener, Associate Professor, Government

07/20 - 06/23

Social Sciences

See the faculty resources section of Cornell University's Diversity and Inclusion website for more.

Staff DEIA

Staff Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Our Mission

The Arts and Sciences Staff DEIA Committee’s charge is to:

•Honor our college's commitment to upholding the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility through ongoing action, intentionally cultivating a sense of belonging for all identities and intersections of these identities.

•Through open and civil dialogue, work together with the university diversity council, university diversity officers, the Office of Human Resources, and other stakeholders to promote and inform Cornell's diversity initiatives and goals within the College of Arts and Sciences, with a specific focus on staff but in collaboration wherever possible with other community initiatives.

•Promote the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in all College recruitment, retention, and programming activities with the goal of parity for all College employees.

Staff DEIA Committee 

Member

Term

Department

Carlos Abreu, Program Coordinator 2022-2024 Career Development

Alexis Boyce, Program Manager

(Chair)

Asian American Studies

Christopher Christensen, IT Support Assoc.

2021-2023

Performing and Media Arts

Patricia E. Fernandez de Castro, Editor

2021-2023

Astronomy

Phanomvan Love, Finance Specialist

2021-2023

Finance

Donna Lynch-Cunningham, Director

(Co-Chair)

Human Resources

Zoe Ponterio, Data Manager

2021-2023

Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science

Melissa Totman, Program Manager 2022-2024 American Studies

Tara Wilder, HR Consultant

2022-2024

Human Resources

Contact Us

Your feedback matters!

See something you think we should be doing? Want to provide anonymous comments, suggestions or feedback?

Let us know by visiting: A&S DEIA Staff Committee Survey

For questions, contact our DEIA Staff Committee directly (as-deia@cornell.edu)

Teaching Innovation

Teaching innovation

For those who went to a poorly funded high school, which is too often the case for first-generation students and under-represented minorities, active learning can level the playing field, allowing them to close achievement gaps. Not only is active learning a way to help all students, it's also a way to reduce inequality.

Take Action

Learn more and take action

Public engagement programming

In partnership with the American Studies Program, the College has launched a year-long webinar series, Racism in America, featuring faculty experts and journalist moderators exploring the far-reaching impacts of institutional racism.

The College has also partnered with the Department of English and the Africana Studies and Research Center to produce a yearlong Arts Unplugged series honoring Toni Morrison, M.A. '55, our beloved alumna and literary icon, on the 50th anniversary of her first book, "The Bluest Eye."

Additional diversity, equity & identity resources 

For Faculty | For Staff | For Students | For Alumni, Parents and Friends

Visit this page to report an incident of bias

Anti-racism resources

The Office of Faculty Development and Diversity has shared a list of Resources to Engage in Conversations About Race and Anti-Racism and the Cornell Library has created an online guide about anti-racism.

A&S news related to diversity, equity and justice

Historical black and white photo of a person seated, in formal clothes and a serious expression
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division Frederick Douglass in 1877
Two people talking in a wooded setting
Noël Heaney/Cornell University Authors Michelle Cronin, left, and Tyler Hill are among the 14 authors from upstate New York participating in the Oñgwaga•ä’ Writers Workshop

Land Acknowledgment for the Ithaca Campus

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York state, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫɁ people, past and present, to these lands and waters.

Learn more about this land acknowledgment through the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program.