Campus Mediation Comes of Age

Cornell students to mediate campus disputes
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In a new initiative between Cornell University’s Office of the Judicial Administrator and the Martin and Laurie Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution at ILR, university students will be able to take a joint ILR and Cornell Law School course training them to mediate disputes within the university this fall.

“Campus Mediation Practicum: Theory and Practice,” the first campus mediation program in the university’s history, will be co-taught by Rocco M. Scanza and Katrina Nobles.

Scanza, a member of the ILR faculty since 1999 and the first executive director of the Scheinman Institute, teaches mediation and arbitration courses for ILR and Cornell Law School. He also serves as Cornell’s co-chair of its University Hearing Board.

Nobles is education and communications manager for the institute and is experienced in resolving interpersonal disputes through mediation.

According to Scanza, the course, which will be offered during both fall and spring semesters, is unusual because few, if any, universities award credit for students who mediate campus conflicts.

“ILR, Law and other Cornell University students will have the opportunity to study and conduct real mediation cases,” he said.

Cases will be referred from the Cornell Judicial Administrator’s Office, which annually handles 900 to 1,000 allegations of Code of Conduct violations, Scanza said.

“We believe ours is an innovative approach and of course increases the footprint of the ILR School and Scheinman Institute across the university. In effect, the institute is now part of the Cornell justice system. This is pretty historic stuff and we believe will help change the conflict culture of the university,” he said.

Traci Morse, alternative dispute resolution program manager for the Scheinman Institute, will serve as case manager for the new program.

Scanza led a team that designed and implemented an employment mediation program for the U.S. Department of Labor and worked on a similar project for the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. He is currently working with the U.S. State Department and the Department of Energy to establish internal
mediation capabilities.

A former national vice president for the American Arbitration Association, Scanza directs a mediation program for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He also serves as a professional mediator and arbitrator of employment, labor and commercial disputes.  

Nobles, who holds an advanced degree in conflict resolution, is the university’s most experienced mediator of interpersonal conflicts. Prior to joining Cornell, she directed one of upstate New York’s most respected community mediation centers.