Projects Connect ILR Teams with Communities

Four ILR teams have received funding that connects ILR students, staff and faculty with communities in New York state and West Virginia.
Four ILR teams have received funding that connects ILR students, staff and faculty with communities in New York state and West Virginia.
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Master of Industrial and Labor Relations students interested in careers and activism in the labor and social justice movement will soon have the opportunity to learn from New York City labor leaders and activists.

That’s because ILR School faculty members and administrators have received funding through Cornell’s Engaged Opportunity Grant program to send 12 students and ILR faculty members to the Worker Institute to meet with labor leaders and activists; students will learn how they might be able to assist New York City as future interns or employees.

Ileen DeVault, academic director of the Worker Institute and an ILR professor of labor history, leads the grant team, which includes Virginia Doellgast, associate professor, International Comparative Labor; Rachel Aleks, assistant professor, Labor Relations Law and History; Lara Skinner, executive director, Worker Institute; Gene Carroll, Worker Institute associate; Christie Avgar, director of Graduate Enrollment and Student Services; and Marcia Harding Zeller, associate director, ILR Career Services.

Three additional winter 2019 grants were approved for other community-engaged activities involving ILR students, faculty and administrators. They include:

  • Thirty Cornell faculty, staff and graduate students will take a field trip to Buffalo later this fall to explore grassroots urban regeneration and discover new opportunities for research, collaboration, and community-engaged student learning. This Engaged Cornell convening, Look Local: Practical Solutions for Equitable Revitalization, is developed and hosted by ILR Buffalo Co-Lab, the recently renamed team of ILR extension faculty and staff who work on economic development in Western New York. Buffalo Co-Lab programs include High Road Fellowships, the public knowledge hub of Buffalo Commons and initiatives to promote activist scholarship, social innovation and careers in public service. This convening is led by Kristin Szczepaniec in collaboration with Megan Connelly, Nicole Golias and Lou Jean Fleron, director of Buffalo Co-Lab.
  • A cross-college student project will assist the town of Dryden in evaluating the compensation structure for its employees. The team’s work will support an equitable and state-of-the-art compensation plan that could provide a model for other municipalities. ILR student Kelly Bender ’19 is on the team, along with four Cornell Institute for Public Affairs students. ILR’s Linda Barrington, executive director for the Institute for Compensation Studies, and ILR alumna Lisa Hunter are providing assistance. Dan Lamb, lecturer, College of Human Ecology, is team leader.
  • Research into the lives of students, who in the late 1960s and 1970s migrated to the southern West Virginia coal fields and created novel health care, housing for the poor, political organizing and educational opportunities -- only to be dramatically changed themselves -- will be undertaken by Lee Adler, lecturer, Labor Relations Law and History. The project has begun and will be supplemented by the project’s second and third phases, which will involve an educational website and ILR student engagement with two community organizations co-sponsoring the project.

Each grant is for about $5,000, the maximum award available.

Learn more about Engaged Cornell.