JERAMY KRUSER: My name is Jeramy Kruser. I'm the executive vice chair of the Employee Assembly, and I'd like to welcome you all to the 2017 President's Address to Staff. This event is hosted by the Employee Assembly. And to start off the program, I'd like to welcome our employee-elected trustee, Chad Coates.
CHAD COATES: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Chad Coates, and I am the employee-elected trustee. First, I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the staff who participated in the employee trustee elections and also to thank you all for entrusting me with the responsibility of representing Cornell's staff to the Board of Trustees. In addition, I'd like to encourage each and every staff member to participate in and to continue to support the work of the Employee Assembly.
A couple of reflections for this past year. The role of the employee trustee has been an incredibly humbling and oftentimes overwhelming learning experience. During my first year, I have been orienting myself to understanding the structure of the board and how the board works in practice, this in an effort to identify how best to position and give voice to the needs and concerns of staff employees while upholding the full fiduciary duties and responsibilities attached to being a Cornell trustee.
The board works in quite a unique way than many of the other boards that folks might be familiar with within context of higher education. The board consists of 64 voting members, and much of the work of the board occurs through committees. Over 10 committees, subcommittees, and task forces carry out the functions of the Cornell Board of Trustees.
As an employee trustee, I serve on the Trustee Community Communications Committee, the Committee on Academic Affairs, Committee on Student Life, and the Task Force on Students, Staff, and Faculty Diversity. I also served on the presidential search committee that was responsible for hiring our most-esteemed 14th president of Cornell, Martha Pollack. And welcome.
Current developments. During the past year, Provost Michael Kotlikoff briefed the Employee Assembly on the university's plan to expand the undergraduate class and to construct new undergraduate housing on North Campus. The senior leadership of the university is currently actively pursuing these initiatives. And once finalized, they will be presented again to the Board of Trustees.
Also this past year, the leadership of the Employee Assembly had an opportunity to meet with and engage with members of the Board of Trustees' executive committees. These conversations provided a unique opportunity for the senior leadership of the Employee Assembly to meet with and to share with the senior leadership of the university's board on challenges and successes of Cornell staff.
In closing, I would like to encourage continued support for the Employee Assembly and to note that the open sessions of the Cornell Board of Trustee meetings are also open to staff. Should you be interested in visiting or attending one of these, I'll strongly encourage you to do so if you can. Please contact the Office of the Assemblies.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as the employee-elected trustee. It is both an honor and a privilege to serve. Thank you.
At this time, I'd like to welcome Ulysses.
ULYSSES SMITH: Thank you, Chad, for dishevelling everything that was up here. I had this all prepared, laid out for everybody. It wouldn't be a speech that I'd do without some sort of off-color joke. But Mary will cringe, so I won't.
But I do know what many of you are thinking. You're still here?
And that's shade, but yes, I am in fact. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Ulysses Smith, and I am the chair of the Employee Assembly this year. I promise that you will not have to suffer through my riveting analogies on cooking and food like we did last year. I know that called you all to action, but I didn't just want to take a very brief moment and update you on all the goings on of the Assembly and some other general staff initiatives that are taking place across the institution.
So let's start kind of briefly with just recognizing the members of the Employee Assembly who are all around the room in their red polos, which is probably not as descriptive anymore because a lot of you came wearing them, too. But please do give around of applause to these numbers. Without these members, a lot of the work--
These folks or are working every day on top of their normal day jobs, volunteering their time on both the Assembly at large and in our committees to undertake a lot of issues that are really important to all of you. And with over 8,000 staff here, a lot of the initiatives that we're undertaking would not be possible without them as well as the support of the wonderful folks in the Office of the Assemblies, Gina Giambattista and Pam Hampton, who are both here, who typically don't like to get the recognition but do a lot of the work behind the scenes that we really, really need.
So with that, let's keep going. So let's start with an update on the employee survey since I know that's what you all are thinking about today, since we got so many online questions about it. Over the summer, three cross-functional teams were formed to address the three major themes from the survey-- consistent application of policy-- I see the nods-- identifying promotional opportunities for staff, and connecting staff to the mission of the University. Those teams have been meeting regularly and will be presenting their recommendations to both Mary Opperman and Paul Streeter this month-- actually next week, that's correct.
And after reviewing those initiatives, responses from the leadership will be shared in November. So if you have any questions about the progress of that or more details on the initiatives under the staff survey and how that timeline is going to work, please do contact Reginald White from the Organizational and Workforce Development who's sitting right over there. Look at him well. Memorize that face. OK? Don't call me. Call Reginald. I'm going to tell you I don't know. Let me connect you with Reginald.
All right. Recently, to follow up on the momentum that we received from the employee survey overall, the Employee Assembly with the support of Carrie Sanzone, who is our vice chair for communications-- who is on Livestream today because she's based in Orlando, Florida-- she has instituted a monthly poll that we do in our monthly emails. So these engagement polls are really meant for a way for us to get more information about the things that are really important to you. So these polls will be happening monthly, and the information you provide goes directly to our members and committees for follow-up actions.
So here are the results of the first poll. So clearly, there's a lot on your mind, and rightfully so. Just under 20% of you selected diversity and inclusion and parking and transportation, which should not be a surprise, as your top priorities for this year. Just so you know, we're going to undertake all of this Because clearly, there was no one winning topic out of all of this.
So last year, I gave the staff community the charge to be bold, to try new things, to propose new ideas, and to abandon business as usual. It would be hypocritical if the EA did not also take on that challenge. So our legislative priorities for the year encompass each of these areas. We will be examining a number of initiatives, including expanding educational benefits for all employees, reforming our transportation and parking system-- let us pray-- addressing housing and the costs of living, LGBTQ and disability inclusion, retiree engagement and preparedness for retirement, and access to fitness and wellness, just to name a few. The list goes on.
But if you go on assembly.cornell.edu, you can see a full list of our committees, and I encourage you to join them because they will be the ones who are taking on a lot of this. So it's a lot, some might say, and it's a bold agenda. But that is why we need all of you. These are all the open seats-- on the right side, that is-- these are all the open seats for the voting members on the EA as well as our committee list, which is on the left.
Now, many of you have told me via email or in person, sometimes over a cocktail, about the things that really do irk you, or I'm going to say the areas of opportunity at the institution. So you've also shared some very good ideas that you've learned over the years, both at Cornell and at other organizations. So I want you to harness all of that energy and channel it into helping make this the workplace that we want to be the envy of everywhere else.
So I know I'm asking a lot of you to volunteer something else on top of your job. And it is cliche to say, but it remains true. We cannot do this work without all of you. And you don't want the agenda of the EA to be my own, trust me. Poor Mary. Everybody would be tired.
And finally, I do want to talk about how we support one another. So there's a lot going on locally, nationally, and globally. And no matter what your inclination is or how anyone believes, we are all impacted in very different ways. The best workplace is one where everyone can bring their whole, authentic self, where we can learn from one another and be supported regardless of background or identity.
I hope that, by now, you are all familiar with the CARE Fund. This fund offers up to $1,500 to employees who experience a major financial crisis, and it is funded through your donations. There is a funding campaign happening now through February, where you can win a two-night trip to New York City, stay at the Cornell Club, and get a $200 gift certificate to Union Square Cafe. And all you need to do is donate at least $1 per paycheck to be entered anytime between now and the drawing in March.
And again, for folks who have ever experienced a hardship at the University-- whether it's a house fire, something horrible happening-- this is the fund that is set up to help all of you. So it's one small way that we all can help each other and contribute to the caring community. So please give.
Now, there is no question that staff at Cornell have lived in uncertain times over the last few years. Some might say that times are still a little uncertain. Most of us recall hearing President David Skorton's announcement that he would be ending his tenure early. Many of us remember receiving the introductory memo to assist in reducing the burden of bureaucracy, hearing-- oh, giggles-- hearing President Garrett speak on the role of staff in reducing that burden, and shortly after her unfortunate passing. Many of us also remember hearing President Rawlings speak to staff last year about advancing One Cornell and how to bring our campuses together, with staff being able to see themselves in the mission of the University.
Now we have entered yet another new era. When it was first announced that Martha Pollack would be our next president in that late-night email that summoned me to be somewhere bright and early the next morning, of course I googled her. After all, I'm a millennial. Now, my first thought was she has a background in computer science and artificial intelligence, so she's going to replace us all.
She doesn't need us. This is it. How could they make such a decision? Concerns abound. No, I'm kidding.
But in the short time that she has been with us, Martha has already had to confront a rapidly-changing political climate, the tragic passing of a student, and incidents of racial bias and violence on campus, all of which she's handled with great stride.
Now, we have had the chance to read her messages and to hear a bit about her vision for the University in her inaugural address. And now, the staff community gets to hear from her directly about her vision for the institution and for all of you. So without further ado, please welcome the 14th president of Cornell University, Martha Pollack.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You know, I give a lot of talks, but Ulysses is a very hard act to follow, I got to tell you. But I do want to thank you. I want to thank you for that wonderful introduction. I want to thank you and your colleagues in the Employee Assembly for sponsoring this. And I want to thank everybody, whether you're here in Klarman Hall, whether you're just out those doors in overflow seating or whether you're participating remotely via the webcast. Thank you for being here today. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate this opportunity to talk to the staff.
I got here almost exactly six months ago. I think it will be six months next week. And I've spent a lot of my time really just intentionally going out and meeting faculty, staff, and students. It's honestly one of the parts of the job I enjoy the most. And as I have said on multiple occasions-- hopefully some of you have heard me say this, but I will say it again today-- the staff are the unsung heroes of the University. I'm a faculty member. Before I was an administrator, I was a faculty member for many, many years. I can't do my job without the support of staff. Our faculty can't do their job without the support of staff, and our students can't study, can't learn without the support of staff.
So it is just enormously gratifying for me to be here today and to have this opportunity to meet with the Employee Assembly and to talk with the staff here.
Back in August-- it seems like so long ago now-- but back in August at my inauguration speech, I reflected on some of the priorities for Cornell as I saw them, and these are priorities that all of us-- faculty, staff, and students-- play a role in carrying out. And so let me reiterate these briefly and talk about how they relate to all of us.
The first is academic distinction. We all work for an academic institution, and we've always got to strive for distinction. And when I use that word, I use it in both senses of the word. We need to be distinguished. Cornell is an incredibly distinguished university, known throughout the world for the teaching and the research that we do. And we need to be distinctive. It's the faculty who, for the most part, make us distinguished. But as I say, faculty can't do their job without staff.
And one of my priorities-- one of my highest priorities-- is to work to recruit and retain the very best faculty. And again, that means recruiting and retaining the very best staff.
But in addition to being distinguished, we've got to be distinctive. There's a lot of universities, and I think we always have to be asking, what makes Cornell Cornell? What makes us different from other universities? Why should faculty come here? Why should staff come here? Why should students come here?
One of the most important ways in which we're distinctive is in the fact that we are committed to the liberal arts-- we believe in core liberal arts-- but we're also committed to professional studies-- to vet school, to business school, to law school, to all of our professional schools. And we're committed to the synergies between the liberal arts and those professional schools.
Not only are we committed to liberal arts and professional schools, but we're committed to outreach. We're committed to core knowledge, and then we're committed to making a difference in the world. Now, Chad, I've used this example, but Chad may have been at the meeting on the Search Committee where one of the Search Committee members said, you know? Cornell? It's an Ivy League school with a Big Ten heart. Ivy League school-- core, really solid, strong, rigorous academics; Big Ten heart, we've got a land grant ethos, we want to make a difference in the world. And I think that's something we need to draw on.
But another really important distinction and something I think we can build on is that we have both a rural and an urban campus, an upstate campus and a downstate campus. I have to say, when I first came to visit Cornell right after I was announced at the meeting that Ulysses had to get up at the crack of dawn for, I heard a lot of people concerned about New York. And I heard a lot of people thinking that leadership is going to stop paying attention to Ithaca and only attend to downstate.
So let me tell you how I think about that. I have two children. I have a daughter, and I have a son who's five years younger. And when my son was born, I didn't stop loving my daughter. I didn't stop nurturing her. I mean, she might have thought that at the time.
But the fact of the matter is that I really, truly believe that our campuses-- in Ithaca and the two in New York City-- all complement each other and make us better. We're not going to give up on Ithaca. Ithaca is part of what's so distinctive about us. We're a community, a small-town, rural community of scholars and scholarship. It's who we are. But we are in an increasingly urban world, and the opportunities that are provided to us-- to our faculty, to our students, to our research, hopefully also to staff-- by being in an urban environment, I don't think you can say what that benefit is. It's almost uncalculable.
And so I, like President Rawlings, I'm a firm believer-- and President Garrett-- in One Cornell and in the fact that we have to seamlessly integrate-- it's kind of ironic-- our very large community in the small town and then our much smaller community in the big town.
So those are the ways in which we're distinctive. Now, I want to give you a specific example of how these communities, how these campuses can complement one another. So this past summer, I think you know, Cornell Tech, we officially opened on Roosevelt Island.
And one of the things they did last summer was to help the eight school districts in and around Ithaca plus TCS BOCES to begin to create their own K-12 computer science education strategies. There was a two-day workshop. It was based on similar work that Cornell Tech had done in New York City schools but now was doing it for the Ithaca schools. And now, the Tech campus is following up with each local school district to help them meet their strategic goals to offer office hours, to offer consultations. And they're planning three more workshops for Ithaca districts.
So it's not just that Ithaca provides stuff down to New York. New York is also providing opportunities up here to Ithaca. So that's academic distinction.
I also think we need to strive for what I've called educational verve, educational excitement. We need our students to be excited about their learning. We need to equip them to be lifelong learners because the world changes constantly. What they learn when they leave Ithaca is not enough. They have to be learning for the rest of their lifetime.
Technology has a role to play in this. For most of our students, technology has been part of their lives as long as they can remember. And we're finding that students often learn more when, in addition-- not replacing, but in addition-- to their face-to-face education they have access to online course material. They have flipped classrooms. They have active learning opportunities like those are offered by Engaged Cornell.
But there's other innovations that we can explore, other ways we can use technology. We have technologies that we might adopt that let professors gauge in real time how well students understand the material, and thereby enabling them to adjust their teaching accordingly. One of the things we're doing is supporting this new Center for Teaching Innovation. It combines expertise in academic technology with more traditional support for faculty and teaching professionals.
It's expanding its services. And it's expanding its services not just in support for using technology in the classroom, but for teaching effectively in all kinds of ways. So one of the things that they're doing is providing support to faculty-- new staff resources-- to help faculty address issues of diversity in classrooms and to facilitate faculty-student conversations.
As you can imagine after the recent episodes on campus, a number of our faculty said, I really need to talk to my students about this. I don't have any training. What do I do? How do I talk to them? What will be most helpful? The Center for Teaching Innovation is a place that can help with that. Professor Julia Thom-Levy, the vice provost for academic innovation, is leading that, and she's working to create excitement and experimentation around teaching rooted in evidence-based practices.
So we talk about evidence-based medicine. When you go to the doctor, the doctor doesn't just randomly treat you. He or she uses a base of evidence of what's worked and hasn't worked, and we're trying to do the same thing in the teaching space.
And finally, I think that at Cornell we need to fulfill our civic responsibilities. And I mentioned three in my inauguration, so let me just reiterate them briefly. The first is to advocate and strive to contribute to reliable knowledge. This is something that the Faculty Senate is working on and I'm very pleased to support.
Second, we need to uphold free speech while at the same time speaking out forcefully-- forcefully-- to counter speech that we abhor. We're going to have some very interesting educational experiences related to this topic on campus later this year. In November, Erwin Chemerinsky the dean of the University of California, Berkeley, Law School is going to be here. He wrote a book along with Howard Gillman, the chancellor at UC Irvine called Free Speech on Campus. And then we're going to have a panel in which people are going to debate the pros and cons of hate speech codes in April. So we're trying to do what a university does and approach these problems from our perspective of education and critical thinking.
And thirdly, of course-- and this is so important-- our third civic responsibility is to fulfill Cornell's longstanding commitment to diversity, to inclusion, and to equity. It's such a critical topic. I'm pleased to see that it was one of the top vote getters for a priority for EA. Earlier this month-- I guess now it was late last month-- Provost Kotlikoff and Vice President Lombardi detailed some of the current and future commitments that we're making to the educational experience and campus climate.
These initiatives range from increased diversity amongst our mental health counselors to the development of training programs that are going to be incorporated in our expanded first-year student orientation. Our student life staff are working with interfraternity and Panhellenic councils to develop help meaningful, substantive training programs that we've required must be implemented before the start of the next recruiting season.
And of course, we're working to stand up a presidential task force that is going to take a comprehensive look at our climate issues. I had hoped initially to get that out very quickly, but I spent a lot of time meeting with stakeholders-- with faculty, staff, students. And we've realized that getting the charge and the constituency of the committee right is a little bit complicated, and I felt it was more important to get it right than to do it quickly so we're working very systematically. We'll have some more information out this week. These are issues that, unfortunately, have been with us for decades, if not centuries, and what's most important is to get it right.
On that topic, let me stress today that we've faced some very difficult issues on campus this fall. We've got to work through them as a community. We need community involvement from the various constituent assemblies, including the EA and from all of you. If the recent incidents trouble you as they do me, please, please speak out against injustice and racism and bigotry of all forms. And reach out to support one another. We all have a role, and we all have a stake in helping Cornell live up to its founding vision as a university where any person can find instruction in any study.
We've got to be a community, to my mind, that's grounded not just in mutual respect, but frankly in kindness. The world needs more kindness today. It needs a lot more kindness.
So I spent a bit of time talking about my priorities for Cornell and how they relate to the University's mission because all of us-- faculty, staff, and students-- has a role to play in Cornell's success. I believe that leaders need to create the background conditions that allow insights and good ideas to emerge from throughout the organization. It's a little bit like crowdsourcing for Cornell.
In my own office-- Mary can keep me honest here, and Joel, who's here as well-- in my own office, I try to encourage everyone to speak up when they think that a process has become outdated or no longer needed, or if they think they have a better way of doing something. I try to do that, too. I like to think that having been here only six months I can sometimes see things with fresh eyes. And then, if you try something and it doesn't work out the way you'd hoped, you try something else.
Now, if you're working with dangerous chemicals or you're making a decision that might put someone's life or a great deal of money at risk, you have to move very cautiously and slowly. But I think that organizations sometimes get frozen out of fear of making mistakes. And when that happens, you're not going to advance and you're not going to get better. So I would like to set a general tone that encourages responsible risk taking and the innovation that comes with it.
That's to all of you, OK? That's a directive. Maybe you didn't get it. Take risks. Take risks. And those of you who are supervisors, encourage your people to take risks because they can't take risks if you're not encouraging them to do so. But often, it's the people closest to the ground, the people who are working on the processes directly, that have the best ideas. So that's my plug.
Last November when I got here, when I first accepted the invitation to become the 14th president of Cornell, I talked about some of the values I hold dear. At the top of that list for me is always integrity. I always try to ask when I make a decision, not just about the financials, but about what's the right thing to do. As I've said in previous forums, fora, I also value quality, adaptability, innovation. The world is changing, and universities that survive and thrive will be those that are willing to adapt and try new things, which is why I'm encouraging risk taking. And of course, I've already mentioned diversity and my deep commitment to that as a core value.
But one other thing I like to remind people of is that it's really important to have fun. We not only need a world with more kindness. We need a world with a little more fun. Sometimes with everything going on in the world, not just at Ithaca and Cornell but around the world, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. I've seen firsthand how hard everybody works here, but I've also seen the pride and even the joy that people take in doing a good job.
At my inauguration celebration, from the Festival of Scholarship-- which featured work from students on all three campuses-- to the incredible Street Fair on the Arts Quad, I will always remember Minnie the mini horse. I don't know who was responsible for Minnie, but Minnie, that's cool. Yay, that's cool.
It showcased so many aspects of Cornell and Ithaca. It was an incredible experience, an incredible example of the Cornell spirit. It took an incredible amount of work. And so I want, again, to thank everyone who worked on that so much for all the work you did and for making it fun for everyone.
And with that, I think I'll stop, and we have about 12 minutes for questions and comments. So thank you very much.
ULYSSES SMITH: There are two mic runners in the room-- raise your mics so we know where you are-- Marjorie and Chris. So those of you who have questions, we'll also throw in a couple of the online questions we've got or that we're still getting. So if you have a question, raise your hand.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: And when you ask a question, can you tell me at least your first name and what you do, what your job is, just help get to start to meet people? There's a question.
AUDIENCE: Hi, Martha. Pat Wynn with Campus Life Enterprise Services. When the task force information comes out, will there be a timeline of when certain things will get done?
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Yeah. Yeah, that's a great question. So first of all, I should say that we're not going to wait for the task force to do things. I mean, we've already been doing things. There was already a plan to do things even before many of these episodes. And we're going to continue doing things.
So for example, I mentioned faculty who want more advice-- I can't promise 24/7-- but faculty you want more advice on off hours, this thing just happened in my class, how do I deal with that? We're going to look into that.
We are going to give a timeline to the task force. I want the task force to take a pretty holistic look at things, but I also don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. As I say, these are problems that have been with us, unfortunately, forever. And I wish I had a magic wand and could say we'll have-- they're going to be with us for a long time. So we are going to have a timeline. We're going to ask for an intermediate report sometime in the winter semester and for things to be wrapped up with a set of recommendations at the end of that.
Now, one of the things I'm going to ask the task force, though, is to give some recommendations about how we can have an ongoing mechanism. It won't be a task force, but what kind of an ongoing broadly-represented advisory group can we have so that we can assess whether things are working, so that we can correct course what we need to, so that we can-- I hope we never ever again have to, but I'm not naive-- so we can respond appropriately when things happen?
AUDIENCE: Sorry for that long microphone Olympics relay. My name's Alex Brown. I work with the Intergroup Dialogue Project.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Great.
AUDIENCE: And I also had a question about the task force. How do you envision the task force serving a supplementary or additional role to something like the Hurtado report that came out for our campus? How do you hope that this task force will be different from that earlier report?
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Yeah. Well, the Hurtado report has a very nice-- it's very long. But if you read the executive summary, it has a number of suggestions of things we might do, some of which we did, some of which we didn't. And one of the things I would like the task force to do is to look specifically at those recommendations. It was before I got here. I don't know why we decided not to do some of them. So I think that that's a starting point, and they should review that. And maybe some of those things we should try, and maybe some of them were there were good reasons not to do it.
But more generally, I think part of my answer, the more direct answer to your question is what I said at the end of my previous question. I see the task force as a starting point for us. I mean, it's not a starting point for Cornell. Cornell, like all universities, has been dealing with these issues forever. But it's a starting point for me here. I want this group to say, OK, here's what we're doing. Here's what we're not doing. Here's what's going on in the campus code that might be to be changed. Here's how we might have to respond if things happen again.
And here's how we keep track. Here's how we make sure this is real institutional change, which to me means we need to be monitoring ourselves. We need to be taking risks. Some of the things we're doing won't work, and so we need to have a way a year or two down of not saying, oh my god, we said we're going to do it, so we'll never stop doing it. No. If this isn't working, we're going to take those resources and put it elsewhere. Unfortunately, it makes me so sad, but these are deep social problems, and we're going to have to keep at this. That, I think, is the main difference.
Hi. I thought she was going to read her question. That can't be good.
AUDIENCE: I've got the online questions.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: OK.
AUDIENCE: That's why I'm reading. So this one came in, and it says, you've stated that staff are the unsung heroes of the University in a couple of speeches. What can or should we do to help blur the divide between staff and faculty, to help staff be more sung about?
MARTHA E. POLLACK: I think that's a really-- OK, great question. And I'm going to answer in two ways. I'm going to tell you some things that I might think about, but I think it's a little bit presumptuous of me as a faculty member to answer that question. I think we need to ask the staff, what are the things that would help you feel more connected? What are the things that would help you feel more sung-- I don't know-- more sung?
So I heard-- I don't know if it was Chad or Ulysses, I apologize, I forget-- talk about connecting to the mission of the University. And when I was a dean a number of years ago, this was a suggestion that came from the staff. So you might think this is a terrible idea, and that's fine. We could go into it. But my staff said, you know? I don't really know what the faculty do. And if I knew what the faculty do, not only would I understand my role in the broader university better, but I might be able to be more supportive.
So when we had staff meetings, at every staff meeting we had a faculty member come in and spend 10 minutes talking about his or her research and then answering faculty questions on it. Now, I don't mean that as a solution. That's a tiny, little example. But I think one piece of this is helping faculty and staff, helping both sides appreciate the role of the other.
This is going to sound so silly. I can't believe I'm going to say this. But I'm also a big believer in the role of informal interaction and food. No, I'm serious. You want to get graduate students, you buy pizza. That's my secret. Whoever works in student advising knows this, right? I think we need to have some more coffees or lunches or informal opportunities for faculty and staff to come together. But mostly, I'm looking for your ideas on this.
AUDIENCE: I'm Marcus Scales. I'm one of the hall directors on North Campus. My question for you is, as you know, a sense of belonging is one of the most important things for a person to feel within any organization. This is particularly true for staff of color. Diversity recruiting and retention are issues facing our community at large here at Cornell, and what are your ideas and plans on increasing professional development and retention for staff of color.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: I think that's a-- I'm really glad you raise the question because the instinctive thing we do in universities, which is wrong when we think about issues-- so let me back up. I tend to think about two things. I think, for me, when I talk about diversity, I'm talking about numbers. And when I'm talking about inclusion, I'm talking about when you're here how do you make sure that you feel included, that you feel there are promotional opportunities, and so on.
And I think the mistake that we make all the time is to start by thinking about the faculty and the students-- how we're going to have more faculty of color, how are we going to have more students-- sorry, the faculty in the students-- faculty of color, students of color. And I think the issues of staff are equally important. They're important not just because all of you are important human beings at Cornell. But frankly, even if you think that the students are the most what universities are about, it's the experience of the faculty and staff that apply to them.
So what I think we need to do is two things. I think we need to take the same sorts of approaches that we're taking to increase diversity-- particularly for faculty, students is a little bit different, but hiring-- if we're going to teach about implicit bias in faculty hiring, we probably should be teaching about implicit bias in staff hiring. We should probably be trying to counter that.
And similarly, as we create a more welcoming community for our faculty, we shouldn't think of it just about for faculty or students. We need to be very intentional, I think, in applying all of the things we do to staff as well. So I appreciate your raising that point.
AUDIENCE: Hi. My name is Julia. I am the main study abroad adviser at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and I coordinate all our exchange programs as well. We live in a very globalized world. I'm staff from abroad. A lot of our faculty members are from abroad. Our students are going to work abroad or work with people from other countries. I'm curious if you could say a little bit about your goals for internationalizing the curriculum, international education in general?
MARTHA E. POLLACK: Yes. So I don't think you can be a world-class university in the 21st century if you don't, to some extent, think of yourself as a global university for all the reasons you mentioned. That said, I think you have to be very deliberate in deciding the approach you're going to take, particularly to your activities abroad.
So one thing we can do, we need to do is we need to welcome students from abroad, and we need to make sure that they are integrated into the campus community. But I think when you think about activities abroad, there tend to be two approaches that universities take. One, which is what, for example, NYU has done, is to really build bricks-and-mortar facilities-- to have NYU in Singapore, or Carnegie Mellon in Qatar, or whatever.
With the exception of our Qatar campus, that's not the path that Cornell has chosen, and I actually think it's the right path to go. What Cornell has said is we want to send students abroad. We want to send faculty-- actually, we don't send faculty. Faculty decide what they want to do and where they want to.
I can say that. I'm a faculty member. Faculty are going to drive their research. But we're not going to have Cornell in country X. We're going to have Cornell people in country X working on the ground with people in country X. I think it's a much healthier relationship with the home community. We're not marching in and building our building. We're saying, who can be a partner with us? What can we offer to them, and what can they offer to us? And it also provides a certain flexibility so that, over time, as interests change, as places where people want to go change, there's this flexibility to shift focus.
So I think that's the right approach. Sometimes people say, I want 50% of our students to have an experience abroad. I think it's silly in a university that's as intellectually broad to have those kinds of goals. I don't mind those kind of goals, but I think they have to happen at the school-college level because what makes sense in a law school may be very different from what makes sense in an arts and sciences school.
Oh, and one other thing. this is actually very relevant to staff support. I think we need to do a much better job of centrally coordinating some of the support services for our international activities. So the academic decisions absolutely belong in the schools and colleges with the deans and the faculty. They're the ones who know what programs make the most sense for their students. They're the ones who know where the research opportunities are.
But when it comes to things like insurance or pre-travel safety checks or pre-travel training in how to be a student in a different culture, I think there is lots of opportunities to do that more effectively, more efficiently, and, frankly, more safely if we were a little more standardized and coordinated on that.
All right, one more.
Ulysses is the only person who says that. All right. Let me take a follow-on question.
AUDIENCE: So I'm also [INAUDIBLE]
MARTHA E. POLLACK: You get the last word.
AUDIENCE: All right. I appreciate it. Marcus Scales again. I'm also representing-- I'm a member of the Men of Color Colleague Network group on campus. So a follow up to my previous question would be, how could we as a colleague network group or other college network groups work with your administration to kind of bring towards some conversation and dialogue about how we can increase retention and professional development?
MARTHA E. POLLACK: So I appreciate your saying that. One of the things I am actually struggling with because we are such a big and decentralized place is there's actually a number of people-- not just faculty or staff of color, majority faculty and staff-- who want to be helpful, who care about this and want to be helpful. And they're trying to figure out how they can be helpful, and I'm trying to figure out who they are and how we can pull them together.
And I think, for the moment, there's two things I might suggest. One, because your staff, work through Mary's office. So if you sort of let Mary know who you are and that you want to be involved, we'll then try to figure out-- and if you have good ways to be involved. These are hard problems, and I'm open to any ideas.
The second thing, again, is as soon as this faculty this presidential task force gets stood up, I want them to do massive outreach. I want them to go out and say, who's out there? What good ideas do they have? How can we harness them? But start by going through Mary's office.
Thank you all so much for coming, and I mean it. I'm real serious. You guys are the unsung heroes, so thank you so much.
ULYSSES SMITH: Thank you again for that and for all of your questions. I know we actually got a lot more questions online. So everybody who submitted questions online, fear not. We will get them answered, and we will distribute those out. Hopefully, Gina, if we can work to maybe get those on the Assemblies website, that would be a great central repository for all those answers.
I do, since you all did have so many questions, just want to do a brief reminder to please join the EA or one of its committees. A lot of the things you are asking we actually are tasked to work on. We have committees that have been established very specifically to address retention and diversity and employee welfare overall. And again, if you want that direct connection and interaction with Mary's office and the president's office-- poor Alan Bishop is out there, he's going to cringe when I say it-- and HR, we need you all to be involved in those committees.
So before I turn you loose, again, I do want to acknowledge everyone who took the time to come here today and to participate, to also say that I hope hearing the president's words really fueled you to take part in redefining our workplace. And with that, one big thank you to Mary as well. Though she hates it--
I have not met a more fierce advocate for staff. If you don't know it by now-- now you're going to get a ton of emails-- if you don't know it by now, she's probably the fiercest advocate for all of you that you have. She has been a big pusher of new ideas who has encouraged us to go out and take risks and to, for god's sake, just go do it instead of waiting three years to decide to breathe-- who's even put up with me moving. So I thank you again from the bottom of my heart for all that you've done.
So I know what you all really came here for was the food, for the free lunch. And so that is outside and ready to be consumed. But you should note, President Pollack, that Hunter came here, he did three terms, and he never got standing room only and an overflow room. So you did well. So thank you all for coming. Enjoy the free lunch, and please remember to recycle. Take care.
We've received your request
You will be notified by email when the transcript and captions are available. The process may take up to 5 business days. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this request.
President Martha E. Pollack delivered her first address to staff on Tuesday, Oct. 10 in Klarman Hall Auditorium. The event also featured remarks by Chad Coates, Cornell's employee-elected trustee, and Ulysses Smith, chair of the Employee Assembly.