Cornell University

Groat and Alpern Awards

621 Ives Hall, 607-255-6623

Celebration 2007

Groat Award winner Jay Waks' acceptance speech (excerpt)

"Judge Groat referenced the philosophy of education that led Irving Ives and himself to focus on the urgent need for an ILR school. In his own words, and I quote, 'The most satisfactory and happiest human relations are the product, not of legal compulsion, but rather of voluntary determination among human being to cooperate among one another. Though we may legislate until the ends of time, there never will be good peace and harmony without good faith and integrity, a high degree of responsibility, and a real desire to cooperate on the part of all parties concerned.'

"That was their philosophy in pressing the solution of hands on education, rather than the often empty and precatory goals of legislation to promote productive workplaces through enlightened relations between management and labor. A theme as fresh today in a more global economy, as it was at the 1946 founding of our ILR School.

"Cornell’s ideal location for ILR has always been a mystery to me. Why was Cornell University in particular chosen to undertake this new, innovative adventure; this educational adventure of ILR.

"Judge Groat recalled the heavy pressure from New York City and other large cities to house this new college. Placing this new school in Ithaca, it turned out, was quite aside from the obvious attraction to Cornell as the leading land-grant university, which the state’s veterinary and agricultural schools were already located. In Judge Groat’s words, and I quote, 'We early decided that the school should be situated in some institution away from the pressures of management and labor unions.' Judge Groat and the other visionaries reasoned, again quoting, 'Where better to be placed than at Cornell!' You know, we often kid about Cornell itself being centrally isolated, but it turns out that that insulation by isolation was precisely what was intended by ILR’s founders.

"Judge Groat was a staunch Republican, as was Irving Ives, but conscious that meaningful education required the scholarship of all shades of political and social spectrum. He was proud that ILR attracted incomparable scholars. He reflected on many of ILR’s greatest teachers but seemed proudest of Milton Konvitz, a founding ILR faculty member who also joined the faculty of the Cornell Law School, and became a Cornell icon. Milton taught, in Judge Groat’s words, ‘What America stands for.’ I came to learn this first hand as Milton’s student some two decades after ILR’s founding.

"As I reflect upon Judge Groat’s memoir, I am humbled more than I expected to be, standing before you today to receive the award that bears his name. But look out across this room, full of successful ILR graduates and friends, I can see that the real winner tonight is Cornell’s ILR school. Under Dean Harry Katz’s terrific leadership, as it was under Deans Ed Lawler and David Lipsky before him, Cornell’s ILR School is redefining the world of workplace studies on a cutting edge international scale. It is fully integrated with the full components of a brilliant university. It attracts one of the most diverse cadre of scholars and teachers on campus, and as you saw from the two student leaders who led us this evening, ILR leads in having the most diverse body of student scholars and alumni of a newer generation.

"Judge Groat valued progress, and he would be pleased with the institution that ILR has become."

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