Advancing Public Engagement

ILR's Ithaca and NYC conference centers educate and train thousands of students each year and connect the school to the world.
ILR conference centers serve array of audiences, students to world leaders
Monday, October 1, 2012

From student workshops and career fairs, to corporate training programs to wellness forums, the ILR School's conference centers in Ithaca and New York City provide venues for diverse audiences.

The Ithaca center hosts some 1,200 events a year, serving 25,000 people from around the world, including groups from India, Kuwait and China.

ILR's conference center in New York City has welcomed groups from the United Nations, the American Arbitration Association, Mediators Beyond Borders—and three South American presidents.

By hosting a variety of groups and programs external to Cornell, both centers advance the school's outreach and public engagement mission.

The Ithaca center, remodeled a decade ago, is designed as a meeting space and training center. Its four floors comprise nine meeting rooms, two videoconferencing rooms and a 36-seat amphitheater.

"Within the Cornell community, nine out of 10 academic and administrative departments have had events here," says Ann Herson, conference center manager in Ithaca.

The center also hosts outside groups such as the American Federation of Teachers, the Communications Workers of America and the United Steelworkers, who attend week-long training programs.

Last year, the Centre for Applied Leadership and Management at Royal Roads University held an accreditation seminar there for the International Association of Business Communicators.

Learning and development consultant Cal Roberts, who has conducted sessions in the Ithaca facility, said in an interview, "What I appreciated most was the staff—from start to finish, they worked with us to design and deliver the program and create a positive experience."

The New York center, at 16 E. 34th St., is designed for classes and smaller, more intimate gatherings. It has six classrooms, three meeting rooms, a resource center and a dining room on one floor, with videoconferencing capability in most rooms.

Along with classes and training programs, the center hosts alumni and international events, receptions and book-signing events. Other programs involve partnerships with Cornell's Johnson School and Dyson School, and the City University of New York.

"Our location—near Penn Station, Grand Central, the subways and the Midtown Tunnel—makes it easy for people from other states and countries to get here, attend a two- to five-day program, and get back home," says Lynn Coffey-Edelman, conference center manager in New York. "And while they're here, they take full advantage of what the city has to offer."

In addition to the many professional development programs, both centers are the site of undergraduate and graduate student learning.

The New York center serves as home base for ILR students interning in the city and for ILR programs headquartered there, such as the MPS program, whose students also take classes at the Ithaca center.

The two centers often work together, videoconferencing speakers in New York to classes in Ithaca, and vice versa.

"We have great complementarity," Coffey-Edelman says.