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.


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

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

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

Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ, Associate Professor, English

07/19 - 06/22


Simone Pinet, Professor of Spanish and Medieval Studies, Romance Studies

07/19 - 06/22


Lawrence Gibbons, Professor, Physics

07/19 - 06/22

Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Laurent Saloff-Coste, Abram R. Bullis Professor of Mathematics

07/20 - 06/23

Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Kendra Bischoff, Assistant Professor, Sociology

07/20 - 06/23

Social Sciences

Jamila Michener, Associate Professor, Government

07/20 - 06/23

Social Sciences

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.

Image of Peter Lepage

Peter Lepage

Tisch Family Distinguished University Professor


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.

Land Acknowledgment for the Ithaca Campus

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' 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꞉nǫ' dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' people, past and present, to these lands and waters.

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