Cornell University

Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution

456 ILR Research Building, 607-255-9298

Marty Scheinman Interview transcript


One element in any workplace is conflict. I don’t see conflict as a failure of the relationship, conflict is implicit in the relationship. People have different interests, different needs, and as long as we acknowledge those, and recognize that there are either good ways of resolving conflict or bad ways of resolving conflict.

The Impact of an ILR Education

I came to the ILR School ostensibly because I thought I would want to become a lawyer and I wanted to take math, science, and language- and I wanted to play basketball and they said “we have a place for you”. I took courses in collective bargaining, which has to do with how parties bargain contracts and eventually I learned about conflict resolution and I learned about mediation, arbitration, and other kinds of ways to resolve disputes. I thought this was exactly what I was interested in, you work for yourself, you’re doing something that seems socially important, you’re hopefully going to be someone who has good judgment, you’re going to be someone who has compassion, and understanding, and mediating you will get the rush, frankly, of getting people with divergent views to agree. So that’s how it really happened, the ILR school is clearly the place where I learned about this and that’s why I’m so supportive of the ILR school and the idea that mutual work is valuable.

Goals for a Gift

I hope that the gifts that my wife and I have given will encourage some of the things that are already started, running a practicum where students will actually see arbitration, see mediation, be hooked up with mediators and arbitrators, encourage assistantships, where they go to work for government agencies, unions, companies, and learn about the conflict resolution mechanisms already in existence. I hope to encourage, which has already happened, the hiring of staff who think of conflict resolution as an important element in the world of work. We’re going to have a new building in an incredibly good space, which we hope is going to attract students, graduate students, and professors, and one of the things that has been very rewarding is to hear the assistant professors who are new to this think that how incredibly valuable this can be for their research. Mentoring is very important and that’s one of the things that has encouraged me and my wife to want to be involved in this project, is to educate the next generation of neutrals as they educated me.

Why Support ILR?

Supporting the school is more rewarding to the supporter than the supportee. I think it is more joyous. It’s not just about the money, everyone sort of focuses on that, I think that’s wrong, really I do think that’s wrong. I understand development is very important but what I’m really talking about is encouraging engagement by people who are alums and inevitably that engagement will encourage them to be generous, because they’re going to feel they’re making an impact as opposed to just sending a check and having nothing to do with where the check goes, so I hope that this gift will sort of prod, that this will remain, the pillar it once was in our school, which in some ways, when we’ve tried to deal with globalization, and other issues that are very essential, in my way of thinking we’ve lost some of that and hopefully this will help bring some of that back.